GUNS N' ROSES HIGHLIGHT MEMORIES OF CLASSIC ROCK
- Julie Gallegos, The Press-Telegram, 9.29.92
When the band Motorhead opened Sunday night for Metallica and Guns N' Roses at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the lead singer cried ``We are rock 'n' roll.'' They weren't, but the evening was - especially with a solid performance by Guns N' Roses.
In fact, the whole night seemed to be a sort of hommage to rock, with both Metallica and Guns N' Roses using guitar solos from other great bands to segue into their own songs.
Minutes before Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, bassist Duff McKagan, rhythm guitarist Gilby Clarke, drummer Matt Sorum, and keyboardist Dizzy Reed took the stage, a weird, rockish version of the pop song ``Hooked on a Feelin''' blared out of the speakers. The Gunners, introduced as the ```feel good' band of (the) '90s,'' took the stage and the audience with a blistering rendition of ``Welcome to the Jungle.''
Although plagued by cancellations, run-ins with the law (Rose is out on bail for charges stemming from a riot last year in St. Louis), and slower-than-expected ticket sales, Sunday's star seemed to be a kinder, gentler, less angry Axl Rose.
He was by turn charming, charismatic, abusive and touching - but always fascinating - as he ran around the stage swinging and undulating.
But the Gunners played too many well-done solos between its hits. Some were odd, such as a guitar solo of Alice Cooper's ``Only Women Bleed'' that moved into ``Knockin' on Heaven's Door.''
Others were witty, as when Rose sang Elton John's ``You're the One'' to lead into the aching ``Sweet Child O' Mine.'' Often the solos seemed like killing time while Axl Rose changed shorts and bandannas.
Still, Guns N' Roses is a great band of rockers, whether pounding out older hits like the cynical ``It's So Easy'' or bittersweet ballads like ``Patience'' or ``November Rain'' - which actually contained one of the better solos of the two-hour set when Rose played piano.
The band played to a less-than-half-full 92,000-seat Coliseum. At times, there seemed to be more yellow-jacketed security staff members and police officers than audience members.
Metallica, known for plowing on despite hardships like the ones that have beset this current tour, played loud and long, if a little fuzzily. The band played a lot of its older, less-subtle bangers early in its 2 1/2-hour set. Songs like ``Promise of Sorrow'' and ``Seek and Destroy'' had Metallica-heads screaming, but it was the tunes of the 1991 release ``Metallica'' that got G N' R fans to their feet.
But before the crowd got to hear Metallica's lead guitarist, Kirk Hammett, and guest guitarist John Marshall, of the group Metal Church, do the lead-in to Led Zeppelin's ``Dazed and Confused,'' or G N' R's Slash whine out the theme to ``The Godfather,'' they had to endure 45 minutes of boring metal by Motorhead.
By the time Metallica hit the stage at 7:20 p.m., the black-and-leather crowd was more than ready to rock. With the opening chords of the first songs, they were on their feet and swinging their ample heads of hair. As a spotlight swept across the Coliseum floor, thousands of heads thrust forward and down, like hammers in time with the music, eyes glazed and fists punching the air.
But even that crowd response didn't seem to be enough for lead singer James Hetfield. The mustachioed Hetfield, who was not playing guitar because of an August accident in which his arm was burned by one of the show's special effects, cursed the crowd and called them ``bores.''
This brings to mind the most annoying thing about the evening besides Motorhead. Both Hetfield and Axl Rose got angry at the crowd for not being responsive enough. And while Axl Rose stomping offstage in a huff is part of any Guns N' Roses show, it got old fast.
From here, the tour hits Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego on Wednesday with Ice T's Body Count (which was dropped from the Coliseum bill). Then it's on to a sold-out Rose Bowl show in Pasadena Saturday.