Review: Adler’s Appetite concert

By Christa Lawler
Duluth News Tribune

Two songs into Wednesday night’s concert at Clyde Iron Works and Steven Adler was whipping sticks into the audience. He flung some floor level, and lofted some into the balcony. The one-time drummer for Guns N’ Roses and the namesake of Adler’s Appetite had more drumsticks in his arsenal than a family-sized variety pack from KFC.

This fivesome — a collection of rockers from bands of a bygone era — put on an arena-level of effort for, unfortunately, just a couple hundred people. But this was an enthusiastic crowd of mostly men ranging from Gen X-Z. The kind of people whose Appetite for Destruction T-shirts have retained their size, shape and coloring for more than 20 years.

The band played a mix of classic GNR, including “My Michelle,” “Rocket Queen” and “Mr. Brownstone” — songs from what many rockologists consider one of the top albums of our lifetime. The Los Angeles-based band also threw an original into the mix, “Crazy,” which has a distinctive hair band sound.

Alder’s Appetite is an eclectic staff, and each had a unique stage presence independent of the rest of the cast:

There was the cool and emotionless bass player Chip Z’Nuff, with his ’70s style of pimp-tastic suave. He wore a suit with a white pointy-collared button-up shirt, a jaunty blue hat and shades.

Quietly noodling away in the corner was the unassuming guitar player, Alex Grossi, who was part of a revamped 2004 version of Quiet Riot.

There was Michael Thomas, with the kind of wicked guitar shenanigans that didn’t officially make it into this century but tend to rear their head during Jagermeister-fueled rounds of Guitar Hero at 3 a.m. The phrase “made love to his guitar” comes to mind.

Lead singer Rick Stitch has whip-able hair, and he wore a sleeveless flannel shirt that was open — his chest wet by the end of the first song.

And then there was Adler: High-powered fans trained on his curly shoulder-length hair, a big ole smile on his newly sober face. He’s obviously having the time of his life, during this Take Two of his rock ’n’ roll life. Adler was kicked out of Guns N’ Roses in 1990 for his debilitating drug use. He had a very public getting-sober period that was chronicled on VH1’s “Celebrity Rehab” and “Sober House” and maintains a relationship with Dr. Drew Pinsky. Adler was his own personal Coke-Cola commercial, showing off his nonalcoholic beverage of choice throughout the performance.

Their version of “Civil War” struck the core of the purists, and everyone dug down deep for their falsettos in a singalong of “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”

Then Adler’s Appetite did a cover of GNR’s cover of Dylan’s song “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.”

Make no mistake: This is not Guns N’ Roses, and it doesn’t seem to be a Guns N’ Roses tribute band. It’s more of a collection of rowdy dudes reimagining Guns N’ Roses songs — like a decent remake of a classic film. (Although, let’s be honest. That never happens).

They false-finished the night with “Paradise City” and invited the members of the opening band Anchored on stage for an extended remix version of the song filled with playful band interaction. The lead singer of the Texas-based band, Brandon Narrell, bowed down to Steve Adler in a way that suggested the walls of his boyhood bedroom were filled with Adler’s likeness.

Adler’s Appetite did the requisite exit stage right, only to come back for one more song after concert staff grabbed a microphone and led a group chant of “Adler! Adler! Adler!”

Everyone’s favorite drummer came back on stage, and told us he loved us.

You know what this place reminds me of? he asked the audience. “The Jungle!” he called, then they busted out the one fan favorite from “Appetite for Destruction” that they had missed: “Welcome to the Jungle.”

This review originally ran on August 13 2010, in the Duluth News Tribune. It appeared on the newspaper’s website on Aug. 12, 2010.