- Del James, Rip Magazine
Pandemonium breaks out again! Using the same formula as before, Slash and Duff called radio station KLOS and announced the "secret" - which, even before 'Frisco, was not much of a secret - and the show was an immediate sellout. Most of the prominent members of the L.A. music community, from industry heads to journalists to musicians, were eager to see what GN'R had to offer, with many skeptics secretly hoping they would fall flat on their faces. Also, the entire Guns N' Roses family of friends was there. Once again Dumpster held their own, reaffirming their claim as on of L.A.'s top club acts. It's only a matter of time before these guys get the record deal they deserve. Then, as the lights dimmed, the Pantages Theatre exploded as the moment everyone had been anticipating arrived.
Opening with "Right Next Door To Hell," GN'R launched into a set that saw many of the kinks from the previous gig ironed out. The band onstage tonight was a lot more confident and firmly in control of the harder-to-please- yes, stuck up- L.A. audience. "Mr. Brownstone," "Dust N' Bones" and "Civil War" followed. Then Axl said, "This next number is my favorite song of the set, because I don't have to sing, and I can kick back and watch the guys. It features Slash Corleone Guido Sarducci on guitar. This is something we call 'Godslobber'." Slash took his cue and started soloing, then the band slowly kicked in with their interpretation of the theme from The Godfather. "Pretty Tied Up" and an awesome version of "Live And Let Die" followed. "14 Years," a number that features Izzy Stradlin on lead vox, was next. Then came "Yesterdays" and "Double Talkin' Jive," which turned into one of GN'R's heaviest jams. The show continued with "Patience," during which Axl jumped off stage and ran through the audience, winding up at the sound board, where he sang the finale of the song. There is nothing choreographed, nothing planned, and nothing contrived about a Guns N' Roses show. Hell, they don't even have a set list, but rather a "pick list" of 30-plus songs they can choose from each evening, according to whatever mood hits 'em.
Next up, a blistering Matt Sorum drum solo rocked the rafters off the Pantages, with a little help from Duff McKagan on timbals. "The drum solo is great," Sorum explained later. "I never got to do one when I was with the Cult. Actually, I never did one before Rio. Hopefully they'll keep getting better. It's really cool of the guys for letting me do it."
Duff let Sorum cut loose a little longer before returning with his bass, and then the duo got into a funk groove. Slash joined the jam, and pretty soon GN'R had one what no one else would dare: go from "Patience," into a drum solo, into a funk jam, into an all-out, balls-out rock jam that turned into "Rocket Queen."
"Knockin' On Heaven's Door," complete with a sing-along, was next, and right before the last song (before the encores) Axl explained that "Estranged" featured pianist Dizzy Reed. The band then launched into the song, which can only be described as a classic.
Returning after a break, he band got into the first of their two encores. They started up with "Bad Apples," then Axl called up a close friend, Shannon Hoon, from Capitol recording artists Blind Melon, and they sang "You Ain't The First." "It's So Easy" ended the series. The second encore started off with "Bad Obsession," then Axl called Hoon back onstage, and the pair duetted, like they do on Illusion, on "Don't Cry." "Sweet Child O' Mine" ended the evening. After the show Guns threw a party for several hundred of their friends, but I didn't stick around. The two-hour-and-ten-minute show had drained me. Instead, I rang Axl's hotel and left a message: "Getting better. Eight and a half."