TOURING with the Kings of Chaos band every couple of months is “more like visiting a cousin than living with an annoying brother”, according to Def Leppard vocalist and occasional rhythm guitarist Joe Elliott. “The great thing about this band, this ‘collection of rogues’, is that we all get along. We don’t get sick of each other,” he says.
The Kings of Chaos will take to the stage at GrandWest’s Grand Arena on June 7 and 8 at 8pm.
Elliott will be joined by fellow rock legends Matt Sorum, Slash, Gilby Clarke and Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses, Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple and Black Country Communion, Ed Roland of Collective Soul, Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge, and Dave Kushner of Velvet Revolver, Wasted Youth and Jane’s Addiction.
“Matt Sorum put the band together. We’ve known each other for years. To quote Ozzy Osbourne, he asked if we wanted to ‘get aboard this crazy train’. Join in, sing a few songs and have a bit of fun – with no pressure,” Elliott says, adding that there’s no ego involved – they’re just a group of old friends getting together to make music.
“And what a line-up! We have a great rhythm section from Guns N’ Roses, Glenn Hughes from Deep Purple, then there’s Slash and Myles Kennedy.”
Busy schedules have meant that they have had to rehearse in shifts to make sure they are ready. And with so many talented performers from bands with extensive repertoires one would expect that choosing what to include in the concert would have been tricky.
“The songs kind of picked themselves,” says Elliott. “We’ll do Pour Some Sugar on Me and Animal of course. And we’ve put in an acoustic segment for South Africa.”
Kings of Chaos consists of core members and depending on their other commitments, the band shifts, as do the songs in their repertoire.
“It’s a bit like a football team – if someone gets injured, someone else must come in,” Elliott laughs.
“Fresh songs come with fresh blood. We may even end up writing songs together. Who knows?”
The idea is for the concept to take off and for other musicians to be keen to get involved whenever possible, so that every tour is different and exciting.
Elliott and the Kings recently toured South America and performed at a festival in Australia.
“I couldn’t believe the number of people totally going bananas. It was an eye-opener to see how much they dug it.
“It’s building, it’s a curiosity. You wonder how it’s going to work, Matt Sorum, Gilby Clarke and Duff McKagan playing a Def Leppard song… Will it work? And it does!”
When it comes to the epic guitar solos that often feature at rock concerts, Elliott says that part of the night will be a little less structured.
“If we’d been performing with Steve Stevens and Billy Idol there would have been fighting over Rebel Yell,” he chuckles. “But with us trying to play a hot set there’s not much room for self-indulgence. Let’s just keep the songs going.”
Fans can look forward to hits like Burn, Paradise City and Welcome to the Jungle. And of course, the inimitable style of Slash. “He’s just such a huge personality. When a guy walks in with a chain from his nose and a top hat, you know what you’re going to get,” says Elliott.
Between guitarists Kushner, Slash, Miles and Clarke, there’ll be “riffs coming out like machine-gun fire” and this will definitely not be a quiet gig.
“It’s rock ’n’ roll, we’ve already been too loud for 40 years,” Elliott laughs.
While they’re not sure what audience is waiting for them in Cape Town, their other gigs around the world have included a lot of younger fans, despite the classic rock line-up.
“In South America it was a very young crowd. The older fans were all standing at the back because they don’t want to get squashed, so you can’t see them. They appreciate it, but they don’t make so much noise. I have also seen rows of grown men crying, while playing See Me, Feel Me.”
Elliott will be spending a few days in South Africa before flying home and leaving almost immediately for a Def Leppard gig in Paris.
“It’s that tight, but I was determined to do this tour,” he says.
“It’s a wonderful experience to work with these guys. They just smile all the time. Everyone has been in a band for 30 or 40 years, and we all have great jokes and stories.”
While many of those stories can’t be shared outside the “tour bus”, they’re part of what makes being involved with Kings of Chaos that much more special, and Elliott is certain their visit to South Africa will add to the tales they have to tell.
“If it goes well, of course we’ll come back. If we do a good job and the crowd digs it.”
• Tickets are R375 to R700. To book, call Computicket at 0861 915 8000.