- Del James, Rip Magazine
GN'R Clubbin' It '91 had reached its culmination, and NYC was electric with anticipation. Since Axl had selected one of his favorite up-and-coming bands to open on the West Coast, Slash got to choose one of his, Raging Slab, for the East. Slab smoke! 'Nuff said.
The Ritz crowd went wild as the Gunners ripped into "Pretty Tied Up." It was a breath-stealing show that saw Rose & Co. blast through the new as well as the old. They didn't just storm the stage, they owned it! The set included "Bad Obsession," "Live And Let Die," "Patience," "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," "Mr. Brownstone," "My Michelle," "Estranged," and another new tune titled "You Could Be Mine," which will be used in the movie Terminator 2. Duff successfully stage-dived during "Paradise City," and once again Shannon Hoon joined the band for "Don't Cry." Right before the Gunners final number of the evening, "Welcome To The Jungle," Axl blew my mind dedicating it to yours truly, as well as to the 3rd Street Hell's Angels, a half dozed of who were present. The judges from the balcony gave the NY gig nine and a quarter - pretty damn close to perfection.
Peggy Loof's Review
I have a bunch of GNR memories.
I'll start with the surprise show at the Ritz in May of '91. It was the first time I saw GNR and it was awesome to say the least. To set the stage, the Illusion albums had not yet been released, Izzy was still with the band and it was a small venue.
There had been rumors of a surprise gig circulating from early April. The first time I heard it might happen, was outside of L'amour in Brooklyn about 3 weeks prior. We were at an L.A Guns show, and most of the crowd were fans of both bands. It was being whispered, all hush, hush that GNR would play the Ritz, but by the time the doors opened, the whole line was buzzing about it.
The show was originally scheduled for the night before it actually happened. As a matter of fact, the ticket stubs are printed with the wrong date! (I dont have it with me or I would list it). Because the rumor mill had been so strong, when the date passed with no show, we all figured that it just wasn't to be.
The Ritz was at 54th Street in Manhattan. I worked in the offices at Lord & Taylor Department Store which is at 39th street. I got to work at about 8:45 and all the clocks had stopped during the night and had the wrong time. I turned on the radio to try to get the correct time, figuring I would get the 9 o'clock news. I had on WNEW FM, and the morning guy was talking away when I turned it on. One of the things that caught my ear was "It's rumored that the equipment trucks on 54th street belong to GNR" I was the only one in the office at the time, and had wanted to run right up there, but I had to wait til the other secretary came in before I could leave. At 9:30 I left with a cryptic message of "I'm taking my lunch break" and hurried myself up to the Ritz.
With NO confirmation AT ALL, at 9:45 in the morning, a line had already formed. By 10:30 it stretched a quarter of the way down one block, all the way down the second block and halfway around the third corner. At 11 o'clock, a security guard came around and started counting people. He came back a few minutes later and said they were going to be giving out wristbands. If you got a wristband, you could buy a voucher for two tickets. You had to show ID when you purchased the voucher, and again as you went in to the show. I had about $5.00 on me and no ID. The guy was cutting off the line about 15 people behind me. I made a deal with the security guard that I would get a wristband, and so would my daughter Tina (who wasn't there yet) if I let his girlfriend cut the line in front of me. I called Tina and pulled her out of school for the day, figuring she could bring the money and hold my place in line till I got out of work. She left home without her ID, so we called my other daughter Michelle to bring it to her. (I live about an hour's subway ride outside of Manhattan). Tina got the wristband she had been promised and so did I. We then heard hat it was confirmed that GNR would be playing there that night. MTV and several of the news stations sent camera crews to check out the line.
They then announced that the vouchers would be sold at 3'oclock. Most of the crowd including the 3 of us just got back in the line. The vouchers cost $30.00 and allowed you to buy 2 tix. I got one and so did Tina, allowing us to buy 4 tix. There were other people we knew there and I figured we would have no trouble getting someone for the fourth ticket. At about 4 they started selling the vouchers. You did have to show ID and sign your name on the voucher. When we were inside the lobby, we were told the doors would be opening at 6:30. Again, the line reformed right away. Needless to say, I never made it back to work and Tina didn't get back to school.
The crowd was very cool. We took turns holding each other's "spot" while we looked for an open bathroom, food and in some cases phony ID. It was also a very mixed group. There were people like me who were still dressed in work clothes (in my case navy blue blazer, skirt and heels!!) people like Tina, who looked like she "belonged there" in leather and jeans, and people like Michelle who looked like she fell out of the J Crew catalog.
The doors opened about 7. We almost ended up being stuck with the 4th ticket. I finally just sold it for face value as we went in the door. You did have to show your Id again and sign your name again. They then gave you an oversized ticket stub with the GNR logo on it. There was an opening band Raging Slab, and they came on at about 8. I was standing near the soundboard and had an excellent view of the stage. Tina went all the way up to the front of the stage, and Michelle stood near the back bar in the balcony.
At 9 GNR came on. Duff wearing his black cowboy hat and leather jacket, Izzy standing off to the back/side of the stage in a velvet jacket and his newsboy cap. Axl is his white spandex pants. I didn't really notice Matt other than a bandana and a ponytail, and Slash with his top hat and cigarette. Duff and Slash removed their shirts, and Axl did his mini fashion show. At that time, the only Illusion song I had ever heard was Civil War. Everything else was brand new.
There were cameras set up on either side of the stage and in front of the soundboard. I thought this was strange in a club,especially since there were no video screens set up. About halfway through the show, Axl announced that they would have a song on the Terminator Soundtrack and they ripped into "You Could Be Mine" Other highlights of the show were MY MICHELLE, dedicated to Sebastian Bach, DON'T CRY with Shannon Hoon joining on vocals and staying around for YOU AIN'T THE FIRST, Slash messing up the intro to SWEET CHILD not once, but twice and just the band in general. Although the songs were new and not known by the crowd, they were very well received. The band was tight musically, and loose as far as reacting to each other and playing off the crowd. Axl was so into it, that he jumped off one of the huge speakers and did a split in the air. He very obviously landed wrong and finished the show limping badly. I commented to Michelle who had moved up to the soundboard that he had hurt himself - either his knee or his ankle but he did continue to perform. (We found out later on MTV that it was his ankle.) Duff "helped out" on Matt's drum solo and they played an extended jam session. Slash did his GODFATHER solo and Duff stage dove during PARADISE CITY. They played for about 2 1/2 hours, with the show ending at about 11:30. They also announced that they would be playing at Nassau Coliseum in June with Skid Row as the openers.
After the show we went around the corner to the stage door. It was totally mobbed. We were just sitting on the steps behind the Ritz when I noticed a whole row of motorcycles. Tina was over by the entrance, and Michelle and I who looked like the tourists that had just wandered into the crowd ended up in a conversation with the local Hell's Angels. This HUGE guy wearing a leather vest, jeans and boots and sitting on a Harley, starts calling to Michelle "hi girlie" and "do you want to take a ride on my bike?" Michelle answered him only if he would drive her home to Queens! He laughed and asked if she had gone to the show. She said yeah and he then asked how she liked it. I thought he would wet himself laughing when she answered him "FUCKING AWESOME!!" The way she was dressed it was so unexpected. He said something like "you're alright" gave her a salute and rode off. By this time it's about 1 A.M. and the crowd has started really thinning out. Izzy and Slash came out first. I didn't have a camera, (the Ritz had been know to confiscate them or at the least take your film,) but they posed for a few pictures but didn't sign any autographs. They got into a van. A few minutes later, a white van pulled up onto the sidewalk right up to the door and Axl and I think Matt got in. Axl didn't stop at all. A few minutes later Duff came out. He was totally drunk and holding a drink (vodka and cran) which he handed to a security guard. I had walked over near the entrance and was watching him. Tina said something like "god is he gone" and one of the security people joked something like "don't tell him, he'll fall down"
Tina had a magazine picture of him and asked him to sign it. He was so far gone that the first time he tried, he didn't even make it to the paper. She had to ask him again to sign his name. Although he was that drunk, he was a total sweetheart. He signed all the autographs and he posed for a bunch of pictures with the fans who were left. It was about 3 AM by this time, and I had an hours ride home. My husband was supposed to pick us up, but we ended up stranded without a ride. We took the subway home with Tina so happy she was skipping down the platform singing at the top of her lungs. Even the New York crazies left us alone!
I got home, showered, changed clothes, had something to eat and turned right around and went in to work! Everyone there was talking about the show, and it was really hard not to let on that I had been there. I made up some story about Tina being involved in a knife incident at her school to explain my absence, and to this day, I don't think the boss ever found out where I really was. A very long but very exciting day. Hope this didn't bore the hell out of you.