This is the L.A. Guns' first tour, but the West Coast heavy-metal rockers boast the glitter of arena veterans. Thursday night the Bayou stage was flooded with dry-ice smoke, flashing police lights and strobes during the entire 90-minute set, while singer Phil Lewis, looking as pretty as the boys in Poison, strutted beneath the band's fluorescent logo. What's more, the Guns' pageantry found its match in their sonic power.
Thunder chords, polished until they shone, were the staple of the set, and such numbers as "No Mercy," "Hollywood Tease" and "Sex Action," all from the band's recently released debut album, cleverly fused '70s hard rock, British metal and pure glam. As Lewis caterwauled anthems and thrust his leather-clad hips, lead guitarist Tracii Guns fed a hungry audience with solos, noodling effortlessly while holding his guitar over his head. However, the band's real strength lay in its rhythms -- driving, gut-thudding and turned all the way up. This relentless beat was at the center of the night's best number, "Shoot for Thrills," a Slade-like chant-along that inspired a sea of raised fists on the floor.
Sometimes the Guns' panache worked against them. Guitarist Guns was afforded a solo for every number but could only recycle so many riffs, and the synchronized stage moves during "One More Reason" were stiff and silly. Still, the L.A. Guns' worst was a notch above opening act Laas Rockit, a young Bay Area outfit whose enthusiasm couldn't make up for its stifling, generic speed metal. Rockit just never took off -- but the Guns were a blast.