"As unvarnished and unshowy as a multi-millionaire rock star can get": Duff McKagan keeps it intimate on Tenderness Live In Los Angeles

GN’R bassist Duff McKagan scales things down on solo live double album

Duff McKagan: Tenderness Live In Los Angeles cover art
(Image: © Duff Online)

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Duff McKagan’s late-career repositioning as a heart-on-sleeve punk rock troubadour is no surprise. Even at Guns N’ Roses’ imperial height, the bassist kept one foot in the Seattle dives he grew up in. 

Recorded at LA‘s intimate El Rey theatre shortly after the release of 2019’s impressive, bare-bones solo album Tenderness, and backed by collaborator Shooter Jennings and his band, this is as unvarnished and unshowy as a multi-millionaire rock star can get.

The 17-song set mixes Tenderness originals with a trio of barroom-friendly GN’R deep cuts (You Ain’t The First, Dust And Bones, Dead Horse) and covers of songs by Seattle Supergroup Mad Season (River Of Deceit), The Twilight Singers (Deepest Shade) and The Clash (Clampdown). 

McKagan’s wayward drawl is 90 per cent emotion and 10 per cent technique, and even he mocks his own acoustic guitar playing (“Shredding,” he says drily at one point), but what it lacks in perfection it makes up for in honesty. Feel is introduced with a heartfelt tribute to dead friends and inspirations (Scott Weiland, Prince, Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington) though it’s that joyously ramshackle Clash cover which captures the celebratory mood of the night. 

Dave Everley

Dave Everley has been writing about and occasionally humming along to music since the early 90s. During that time, he has been Deputy Editor on Kerrang! and Classic Rock, Associate Editor on Q magazine and staff writer/tea boy on Raw, not necessarily in that order. He has written for Metal Hammer, Louder, Prog, the Observer, Select, Mojo, the Evening Standard and the totally legendary Ultrakill. He is still waiting for Billy Gibbons to send him a bottle of hot sauce he was promised several years ago.