Gun: still smoking

The Scottish melodic rocker's best days may be behind them, but their aim is still true

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Anthems. Great, big thick anthems. Gun’s set ripples with them, from Let It Shine at the start to final encore Shame On You. These are memorable songs, the sort you’d usually expected encrusted in the catalogue of an arena band not, as tonight, in the confines of such a small venue.

The reason Gun are stuck in the lower echelons while bigger locations are bursting with names who’ve got half their talent has nothing to do with musicality or musicianship. Other things have gone badly wrong for the Scottish crew over the years. But this shouldn’t concern us now. It’s all about 80 minutes of pre-eminent quality.

Dante Gizzi is now growing into his role fronting the band. His voice is getting stronger, ably carrying fan favourites like Better Days, Taking On The World and Steal Your Fire. And the confidence he displays when talking to the crowd proves the man’s no longer living the shadows of predecessors Mark Rankin and Toby Jepson.

Dante and brother/guitarist Jools have long been the fulcrum of this band. But they have gathered a fine line-up around them, featuring musicians who have a distinct feel for the Gun heritage, yet are also playing a full role in driving the band forward. You can hear this on new songs One Wrong Turn and Labour Of Life. The latter is especially infectious; it certainly gets a couple at the bar jiving along, as they mouth every syllable. But that is the secret of what makes Gun hugely impressive – even their latest tracks sound like old friends.

Inevitably, there’s a massive reaction for Word Up, the Cameo cover that remains the band’s biggest hit. But this now has a rival in the form of a version of Hot Chocolate’s Everyone’s A Winner. Just released as a charity single, this showcases the band’s capacity to take a song so ingrained into the consciousness through the original and add their own taste. Radio DJ Paul Anthony gets up to do some backing chants, and he’s immediately made to feel part of the Gun collective. But then that is one of this band’s finest assets. They make everyone in the club feel as if they matter. Why? Because to the Gizzis et al, everybody does matter.

Gun’s chances of making it big enough to be able to headline the sort of venues where they clearly belong have long disappeared. But when they can produce nights like this, at least they firmly underline why they were once regarded as good enough to go head to head with the biggest melodic rock names on the planet.

Malcolm Dome

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica, published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He died in 2021