GUNS N' ROSES FIRES UP ITS FANS SILVERDOME CROWD CATCHES METAL BANDS ON A GOOD, LONG NIGHT
- Gary Graff, The Detroit Free Press, 7.22.92
Last June at the Guns N' Roses concert in Toledo, Dan Komisarek, 17, broke two ribs in the crush of the crowd. His friend, John Weis, 17, broke a wrist.
But that didn't deter the two Toledoans from driving to the Pontiac Silverdome Tuesday to do it all again, joining an estimated 47,000-plus headbangers for a triple bill of Guns N' Roses, Metallica and Faith No More -- a heavy metal mecca that began at 6:30 p.m. and lasted into Wednesday's wee hours.
The prospect of seven-plus hours pinned against the barricade in front of the stage didn't phase Weis or Komisarek as they hunkered down front and center amidst thousands of other T-shirted rock dogs.
"Sure, it's worth it," Weis said. "I love Metallica and I love Guns N' Roses."
Even, he said, at the risk of more injuries: "There's so much adrenalin, you can't even feel it."
To the crowd's credit, that adrenalin started pumping early -- as soon as Faith No More hit the stage -- and lasted well into Guns N' Roses two-hour and 20-minute performance. Credit proper crowd management tactics for that, including: a general admission, no-seats main floor that was controlled by multiple barriers positioned to alleviate the crush of bodies; and the Silverdome's decision to ban alcohol sales -- though plenty was consumed during tailgate parties.
More crude, but equally effective, was the crowd participation T&A show on the video screens between the Metallica and Guns N' Roses show, during which dozens of women in the crowd bared various body parts to the raucous approval of their brethren. It's safe to say that the length of the break -- an hour and 45 minutes, went unnoticed by much of the crowd.
The ultimate payoff, however, was the music, uniformly strong throughout the marathon show and varied enough to hold the crowd's attention. The three groups complemented rather than battled each other, with Faith No More's thrashing blend of metal and funk segueing into Metallica's pure teutonic adrenalin, which in turn yielded to Guns N' Roses' intense but more party-oriented approach.
It was a good night for the Gunners -- a notoriously erratic live band which had previously canceled two scheduled appearances at the Palace. Singer Axl Rose apologized for those early, thanking his Detroit fans "for being patient and for being here to see us tonight." The mercurial frontman was in good spirits on Tuesday, buoyed by a backstage beach-style party that featured a champagne fountain, pinball machines and a pool table.
With Rose running as many yards around the stage as the Lions' Barry Sanders runs during an entire season at the Silverdome, Guns N' Roses roared through a selection of its favorites -- "Welcome to the Jungle," "Civil War," "November Rain" -- as well as covers of Wings' "Live and Let Die" and the Misfits' "Attitude."
Guns' set only suffered for lateness; by the end of the show, the crowd seemed anesthetized rather than energized.
That was hardly the case during Metallica's molten, two-hour and 15-minute performance. The evening was, in many ways, Metallica's to dominate. Positioned in the enviable second slot -- when the crowd is warmed-up but not burnt out -- the quartet charged into its set with every intention of winning the evening. As drummer Lars Ulrich said, "If we didn't go out and try to blow the other band off the stage, none of us would be human." So Metallica cut its good buddies in Guns N' Roses little quarter as it played full-throttle through a set of slash 'n' burn metal that had the crowd pumping its fist for big hits ("Enter Sandman," "One," "Nothing Else Matters") and older favorites such as "Harvester of Sorrow" and an epic-length "Seek and Destroy," which had everyone in the place joining in a call-and-response singalong.
MIGHTY METAL MARATHON GUNS N' ROSES N' FANS N' NOISES MAKE SILVERDOME SHOW A SURVIVAL TEST
- Gary Graff & Doug Church, The Detroit Free Press, 7.23.92
An hour and 45 minutes is a long time between groups at a rock concert.
Unless there are distractions -- such as a topless woman wiggling on the three video screens in front of you. And a somewhat inebriated man pounding on your back and yelling, "Yes! Yes! Look at that! Yesssss!"
Welcome to the jungle, indeed.
And welcome to Tuesday's concert at the Pontiac Silverdome by Guns N' Roses, Metallica and Faith No More -- a 7 1/2-hour heavy-metal marathon of pulverizing rhythms, screaming guitars and banshee vocals that pummeled the body as well as the ears.
And the topless woman? Call it a crude sort of crowd control. During the time between Guns N' Roses and Metallica -- a break that was longer than some bands' entire shows -- the concert camera crew panned the audience, orchestrating a prurient video show and proving that a surprising number of young women are willing to take it off when almost 50,000 voices request it.
Distasteful? Of course. But it killed time and helped concertgoers survive an evening that was part concert, part spectacle and part endurance contest.
True, the show was shorter than the average workday -- except for those who partied all afternoon in the Silverdome parking lot. But consider this: As Guns N' Roses whipped into its closing number, baseball fans in Seattle were on their way home from a long Tigers-Mariners game. And Arsenio Hall was woofing his way into his second late-night guest.
Most of the 'Dome's headbangers, however, had enough energy left to ooh and ah at a five-minute fireworks display that finished the night -- at 2 a.m. Wednesday.
Of course, most T-shirted metal fans (median age: late teens) expect a late night at such events. At many of its concerts, Guns N' Roses arrives just before Godot.
On this night, that was hardly a heartening thought, given the crisp state the crowd was in after a thrashing performance by Faith No More and the jarring, pure adrenalin delivery of Metallica. Factor in the crowded parking lot that awaited, and it was downright unnerving.
Guns ended up making it easy, however. The bad boys came on at a respectable 11:41 p.m. and took their last bows around 2 a.m.
On the main floor of the Silverdome, Mickey Powell, 42, of Saline fingered his foam ear plugs and acknowledged that he might need to drag his son David, 17, and his friends away "around 1:30 or 2 if it's not over." But as the teens shook their heads, Powell, a veteran of Who and Deep Purple concerts, smiled. "I grew up listening to hard rock, and I like these bands," he said. "It's a lot of fun."
It wasn't much fun for the 35 or so parents in the Silverdome's quiet room, a section of the Main Event restaurant reserved for those who brought kids to the show and waited around rather than fighting traffic to pick them up again.
"I had no idea how long the concert would go on," said Jennie Needleman of Ann Arbor, who dropped off her son Andrew and a friend at 6 p.m. By 1 a.m., she was well into her mystery novel, while other parents chatted and watched the end of "Matlock" on the restaurant's televisions. For them, the show was a dull roar -- except for the pyrotechnics. "They had this stage effect that exploded, and everything in here shook," Needleman said.
Meanwhile, back down on the floor, tuxedo-clad limousine drivers Michael Medicus and Virginia Slotman of Flint figured the best way to spend the evening was to thrash their heads along with the crowd. Medicus, by far the best-dressed headbanger on the floor, said, "I always come into the shows, or else I'd get bored waiting."
At the invitation of the bands, representatives of Amnesty International, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws set up tables outside the Silverdome.
Without free samples, NORML couldn't spur much interest. But thanks to T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "Torture Sucks," the Amnesty table became the crowd favorite.
"It's kind of a theme for this tour," explained Amnesty area coordinator Abe Bonowitz.
But as they filtered to their cars after the show, "torture" was not the word people were using.
"When you've got two of the hardest-working bands in the world, you have to keep going with them," said Mike Story, 18, of Farmington Hills. "We're doing great."