Guns N’ Roses Live In Las Vegas
- Ramanathan Sundararajan , Pure Rock Patroller, KNAC.com
Guns N’ Roses Live At The Joint At The Hard Rock Café Hotel & Casino, December 29th, 2001
This is a late review of the concert. That’s cause I only just reached Sydney. I have to say that I loved every bit of the concert. Even the things that went wrong, I hope that my criticism is constructive and that Mr. Rose would read my insights and respect my views on everything that happened. To start off, I waited 11 hours to get into the Joint as I wanted a really good spot at GA (Golden Arena). The people there were very cool, we talked about GN’R, music, life, etc. Met people from “GNR Bar”. When we entered the Joint, this shocked the hell outta me. We weren’t put through a metal detector. All we were asked was if we were carrying any recording equipment. No one was even body searched. That sucked. I was very worried about the safety of everyone including the band throughout the concert. The concert was supposed to begin at 10:00pm, but it began at 11:00pm. We were told that earlier, so we waited inside the Joint since like 8:00. I was right near the stage when the concert started off and you could hear Axl’s voice in the background while a video of an American soldier blowing stuff up was shown. Then they also showed money and gambling in Vegas, and the video said something along the lines off, “There is a holy system that runs under money, a system of life, and this is the system that you have destroyed…and for this you shall pay.” I think he was referring to the terrorists September 11th. They showed to a sickening point, money and Vegas, and then out of nowhere. I couldn’t breathe at this point, Axl ran out and started doing “Welcome to the Jungle.” At this point, there were people trying to jump me from the back to get my spot. A girl grabbed my ass and said she would “suck my dick for my spot.” I was like “Bitch, get your fucking hands off me.”
There were about 30 TV sets on screen that were running off a Macintosh displaying shit from what appeared to be very similar to ‘Winamp’. This wasn’t impressive to me. Heck I am a Comp Sci student, I can fucking kick ass with a budget like the thing they got. Axl, send me a mail anytime man. I will fly over and make your stage fucking cool. Their TV’s were very low resolution and I could actually the see the Mac title on the Window and I thought it sucked really. There was even a time when Axl’s face was morphed and stuff, and I was like, man, with they kind of tech available, and their budget, they really needed some Plasma screens up there doing cool shit. They played a lot of old songs as you know. Like Axl said during Rio, they did play the fuck out of those songs. They sound very, very, very, very powerful with the current band. I think everyone was amazed.
Now to Axl’s speech. This was very confusing. From what I understood, he explained that he wasn’t aware that a European tour even existed as he was working on the new album. No one had told him, and that he had found about it while getting on the net. And he said, “Imagine my surprise when I read that it was sold out.” He said that the management and the record company, all they cared about was the money they were making and that was precisely why the tour was postponed not cancelled, because they wanted to keep the money. As Axl refused to do the tour cause of time constraints, they had to cancel. Axl further talked about “Oh My God” and how that was just in a demo tape which the management insisted be put on the Arnie soundtrack which Axl said ok to hesitantly. Axl went on to say that they band had been working on the album for a long time, and that it kick everything else out of the fucking ball park. He said he didn’t know if we would like it, but all he could promise was that they would work very, very hard in order to produce a kick ass album. He talked about the fact that Buckethead and Finck hadn’t met before rehearsals for December 31st, 2000 and that was a problem. He said that there were all these people who were joining the band and some of them didn’t want to be here but they liked the image that the celebrity that the title offered.
Some of this stuff was unbelievable considering the common presumption that Axl has strict control over everything Guns N’ Roses, it seemed unbelievable that the management would do so much without his knowledge. The thing about Slash being there for the concert and not being let in, I didn’t see him and couldn’t vouch for that, it could just be a rumor as I am pretty sure Slash wouldn’t bother coming in to the concert as he would know that Axl wouldn’t allow it. That just seems stupid beyond belief.
I saw Robin Finck before the concert, I didn’t recognize him however. Ha ha. I thought he was just a wannabe fan. I looked at him strange and he looked back. He looked freaky, like his head shaved halfway. Looked mental. But in the concert got used to him. Axl looked cool. Lost a lot of weight as we know from the WNBC interview. He nearly tripped and fell while running on the encore. Buckethead was great too. Very talented music. Can’t compare him to Slash. Buckethead is too new-wave, cool, next generation, young, electronic guitarist. Very different from the Blues emotion filled magic that was Slash, but great in his own way. Finck was very talented. The whole band has a Slipknot like feel to it, because there are like eight members now. But, each one of them has distinct personalities. What was really freaky was the fact that Paul Tobias looked EXACTLY like Axl, except he had a beard and hair like Kurt Cobain and he played guitar like Cobain as well. That freaked me out. There was a time when the mike went off and Finck’s guitar went off and they threw that shit and walked off the stage. Axl actually walked off the stage around 4 times. There were people throwing t-shirts and KFC buckets on stage as well as Giving Roses to Axl, which he appreciated.
Concert ended with Axl throwing the mike to the audience, and that was it. They didn’t stay to shake hands or anything. I bought a beanie and two of the Guns shirts on sale.
I just want Axl to know that the concert meant a lot to me. Also the fact that Guns had meant a lot to me when I was a kid going thru my personal issues and listening to a Guns album was the only way I could relate and handle the situation. Thank you for everything, and I am sure you guys are gonna fucking kick ass, sell millions of records and shit. Throw me a line in sometime.
Your Fan. Through the Good, the Bad and the Ugly,
Still waiting for the record.
It didn’t seem like a year had gone by when we cruised into Las Vegas again to see GNR. It was hard to believe that they were actually playing 2 shows there. After listening to some Stones, U2, and Izzy Stradlin' in the car, my cousin Neil and I were ready to get out and relax a bit. I was hoping to see some new material but apparently they didn’t want to do that because of bootlegging the new songs. So basically, the setlists and the poor sound quality of the first show were the only real complaints I had. Otherwise, the shows were killer!
We got into town around mid afternoon and checked in and then met some of the people. I wanted to eat before the show so on Mark’s recommendation we hit Terrible Herb’s, which was all right. We had to go back to the hotel because people had to change, and Mark had to take about 4 showers. Then we headed to the Hard Rock, which was across the street, very convenient! Luckily, they let us wait in line inside, unlike the last time I was there to see the Black Crowes. We stood in line along the slot machines near the entrance and just hung out and talked about the expectations for the show, old concert stories and all sorts of random stuff. I saw Del James running around looking busy, and ran into Robert John and spoke to him for a bit. It wasn’t so painful as last year because we could sit down by the slots. Amazingly, they let us in on time (ok, maybe 2 or 3 minutes after they said they would) and they made it quick because people checked our tickets and scanned them beforehand. Unfortunately, there were enough people in front of us that I couldn’t get up too close to the stage when I got into the venue. So, I decided to stand by the railing on the right side, behind the handicapped access platform. This point was higher than the entire floor, so I got a great view of the stage overall. I stood by John, Holtz and Jeff before he went up to the balcony. Near me, I met a guy from San Francisco and a girl from LA and a few others that we hung out with from St. Louis and other cities. Most of all, people were cool, besides for the drunken morons like this one girl who kept bothering us and this old guy in the handicapped section. She was almost kicked out but luckily after about 20 minutes of hell, she left by herself. She was completely wasted!
After a couple more impatient hours of listening to Pearl Jam’s Ten (a couple times) and Jane’s Addiction’s first album, they looked ready to go. I noticed the clocks on the stage like last year, one on each side. At about 11:00 the intro video started among chants of “Guns N’ Roses!!” and people were really excited. After that the band comes out to Welcome to the Jungle and Axl in a white #22 Gannon jersey and black leather pants screaming, “You Know Where The Fuck You Are?????” (Later on he would change into a long dark blue soldier type coat and have his hair held back) My first impression was that Axl was in great shape, looking even better than last year and he certainly sounded awesome. His voice is in top shape and he was able to sing everything and hit every note, barring the sound problems. During the first song, someone was pissing him off and I saw him flip off a guy in the audience. Maybe because these guys were yelling for Slash and Gilby. Robin had on a black jumpsuit I believe, and I couldn’t really see what Dizzy or Brain were wearing. Buckethead had on the same yellow raincoat type outfit as when I saw him at the AC/DC Rock Walk induction with a backpack and a FUNERAL KFC bucket on. Tommy had red hair this time and wore black pants and a reddish shirt that said “Bomb” on it. He looked very punk. Paul had longer hair and it looked lighter, with a beard. Chris looked like a criminal with pantyhose covering his head. Brain had a Mohawk and a red DW (I think) drumkit.
I’m not going to go into that much detail on the songs because they were similar to the 2nd night and I already wrote that up, but I will go over the highlights. This time Brain and Robin made more of an impression on me than last year. I already love Buckethead! Robin did some awesome soloing on Welcome to the Jungle, It’s So Easy, November Rain, Sweet Child, Patience. Buckethead was excellent throughout, and I could see how he played with the close-ups on the screens. Unfortunately the picture quality on those on the sides of the venue wasn’t very good, and had some static. I couldn’t hear many of Buckethead’s solos, and he had some volume difficulties also. Axl’s vocals would also cut out, on and off, especially in the first half of the show. Supposedly their normal sound guy couldn’t be at the show. Axl kept looking up at the sound guy and even stopped to yell at him at one point during the 2nd half.
Buckethead’s solo sections were great, especially when he added in the Star Wars themes and the Pirates of the Caribbean theme. He must have loved going to see the Treasure Island hotel. I saw the butler on the side but he didn’t end up doing his thing. I really loved the acoustic solo because I had never seen him do that before. He seemed to me more into it this time and moved around the stage more, and interacted with the other guys more also. No nunchucks this time, but I saw Axl pick them up during a solo section and he fooled around with them. He makes the show a lot more interesting I think because there are a lot of different things that they could change and do with Buckethead during the different shows. I’d say it also shows that he is more part of the band rather than just hired to play a few solos here and there.
You Could Be Mine was awesome as was Rocket Queen and Its so Easy. I clearly remember Axl running up to the front of the stage in the beginning of the song and abruptly stopping like he used to do. He gave the finger during that interlude and looked so angry. Oh my God was very interesting because Axl’s mic cut out almost the whole song and he looked really angry. Eventually he spiked the mic and stormed angrily off stage after trying to sing the song since the sound was screwed up. Tommy finished off the song singing the chorus and I was wondering if they would stop the show. Someone saw Robin throw his guitar down in a fit of rage also. Luckily he came back afterward, and the sound was a little bit better. One thing I had never seen or heard before came at the end of November Rain, where the band ended the song after the crescendos and you could clearly hear the storm and rain sounds like the album version for quite a long time, and that sounded perfect.
Knockin’ on Heaven’s door had some lyrical mistakes in it, and I saw Axl staring at the teleprompter in confusion. Apparently it screwed up and he ended up singing the wrong words, so he did one verse again. I noticed some lighters out for this one and also Patience. Later, hearing Madagascar live for the first time was really awesome. I noticed that I like the new songs more now than I did before. In the beginning someone threw a KFC bucket on stage and Axl wore it with a big grin on his face as he looked at Buckethead. Also, later on someone threw a black cowboy hat at Axl and he wore it, which looked pretty damn cool. Tommy ended up wearing it later on during the show and he looked just like Duff. I think also that Chris at some point threw a cup of water into the crowd and he also threw the hat back into the crowd.
After Rocket Queen, Axl stopped and talked for a minute, giving us some insight into what was going on. He mentioned that these shows were the first ones that he wanted to play since the Illusions. He also talked about Alan Niven and how that guy was now fired because he booked some shows without consulting the band. He related a story of how a guy who he met in the elevators thanked him for playing the shows and how moved he was by that gesture. He also addressed the European tour and that he didn’t even know at first that they were going to play that and that he found out on the internet. He said, "One day I was sitting at home on the Internet and I found out that the GN'R tour was cancelled and I had no idea that I had a tour." But everything was selling out, it was great!! So, instead of making a statement and risking being sued and taking more time away from working on the album, they said nothing. He also said "We're in the studio doing this album and I can promise you that we're gonna deliver and it's gonna be out of the ballpark" and "we've been working on this album and I can tell you we're doing our best and that's all I can promise." He also said that you will like it or you won’t, but we are giving it our best efforts and working on this thing every day. He said that the band was kinda thrown together quickly because they were asked to do the first 2 shows and they weren’t prepared. He mentioned that the old members liked their Celebrity status but apparently didn’t want to work hard on the new album. He said that it was ironic that all these things were going wrong and he apologized. He also said that the managers, the record company, the executives, and the whole band dropped the ball on the album. It was good that he accepted the blame for it and perhaps elements out of his control affected the release of the album. It was a good little speech, and I was happy that he at least addressed some of the issues that we had been wondering about.
Paradise City was extremely loud, probably the loudest song of the night, and it sounded HEAVY! Unfortuntately, I didn’t like the way the new band (Paul?) did the opening chords as much as the old guys. There will always be certain things that I will miss about them, especially the bluesy parts. Paradise City was a great closer of course, but it left me wanting more since there was no encore. Overall a pretty good show, but I hope that next time they change the set more and add more new songs. This was a “little taste of something new” as Axl said, so I guess these “rehearsal” shows marked the beginning of a new era of Guns N’ Roses which I welcome!
12/29... THANKS TO C2YA FOR INFORMING US ALL!
He sat in the front row in between Axl and Buckethead. He could see the lyric monitor. Lots of monitors.
They didn't even check people so the show is probably bootlegged. Professional filming crew at the show.
Setlist (in no particular order but almost accurate)
Welcome To The Jungle
It's So Easy
Live And Let Die
Oh My God
Think About You
You Could Be Mine
Sweet Child O' Mine
Knockin' On Heaven's Door
November Rain (real cool long piano intro)
Out Ta Get Me
Madagascar sounded awesome...
Video clips in the background were different than Rio...during November Rain a whale was shown...psychedelic looking...during Buckethead's solo there was a lot of weird symbols (like hieroglyphics).
During one song, Axl was pissed off talking to someone at the soundboard....he wore the ear monitor device....
At the beginning of the show....
They showed a video clip of new GN'R logo (orange/blue with the US flag in the background), then they show the space shuttle and satellite from space camera zooms in through to Earth and gets to land then they show a movie - a soldier is running through weeds and shit during this, kick ass music clips from what is most likely a new GN'R song is played (pounding drums, awesome evil guitar from hell). Then they show tanks and all hell breaks loose. It could be something from a new movie (from what he noticed, he's not sure) and then they went on to another video with a narrator that sounded like George C. Scott and he said "The Arabs have taken our money - it's time to put the money back" and it talked about the economy and it starts talking about who's the real evil in the world (money and weird shit) then they show a cartoon of chinese soldiers then it ends.
Brain, Dizzy, and Chris's equipment was 5' high (kind like the UYI tour setup) Axl's piano came out from under the drum kit There was a catwalk; Axl ran back and forth a lot Brain had a glittery red drumset
Axl was thinner. Looked the same, was wearing a white Oakland Raiders Rich Gannon #12 jersey and had black leather pants and Lugz boots that were brown with black bottoms. Nike watch on right hand, Bracelet on left. 2nd half of the show he wore dark-purplish Prince Valiant coat shirtless. Voice was great...screams were fucking on-spot. Robin wore an all black jumpsuit Buckethead had a yellow jacket. He was wearing Lakers pants. He wore a green backpack halfway through the show. His KFC bucket had blood stains on it. Played the white Gibson and the Flying V. Had his toys...had a head of a bald headed guy - bobbing head Devil doll...Axl played with his toys. Dizzy looked like Dizzy. 90% of the show Chris wore pantyhose over his head - he was crazy as hell...he was headbanging and s.hit...he played acoustic during Patience. (Not sure if it was Patience though, could have been Knockin' On Heaven's Door). Paul had a beard. Tommy wore black pants and a black t-shirt that said "bomb" He also dyed his hair red. Brain had a mohawk.
The sound was screwed up early in the show and during Oh My God Axl's mic went very low and he got really really pissed. He threw the microphone and walked to the side of the stage and stared in the sound technician's face...looked evil as hell; more evil than what he looked like at Rio. So Tommy sang almost the rest. During the end of the song, Robin got pissed and threw his guitar at the speaker and it broke and then threw (like launched it) the mic stand across the stage.
Axl said "this is the first show in 10 years that he wanted to do" and goes on to talk about how Alan Niven forced them to tour in 91 and he fired him for it. And then he talks about the European tour. He had no idea there was a European tour. He said, "One day I was sitting at home on the internet and I found out that the GN'R tour was cancelled and I had no idea that I had a tour." He said don't blame him for the cancellation. He also said has to deal with the "Internet Whores" and "Gossip Whores" (probably talking about Carrie Vrenna) He also said "We're in the studio doing this album and I can promise you that we're gonna deliver and it's gonna be out of the ballpark" And "we've been working on this album and I can tell you we're doing our best and that's all I can promise." He said someone in the elevator thanked him for doing a show and he was really moved about it. Later on he repeated again about this was the first time he wanted to do a show and it was all fucking up, but he smiled about it.
Buckethead did three solos. The first solo was after the 4th or 5th song and it consisted of Pirates of the Caribbean/Big Sur Moon/Star Wars. The 2nd solo was acoustic and it went slow to fast. The 3rd was electric.
Some bimbo threw some candy and roses at Axl...he took it and put it in front of the drum kit. Someone threw a KFC bucket at Axl and he wore it. He looked at Buckethead and smiled at him and Buckethead looked back. Someone threw a black cowboy hat at Axl and he wore it - Tommy wore it at end. Axl started doing the "two-step" while having a huge smile on his face during Paradise City.
They had confetti...might be planning to drop it for New Year's Eve...just a little dropped here and there during the show...
Rick Rubin, Pauly Shore, and Owen Wilson were at the show.
Robin Finck's guitar tech said 68 songs done - working on 14 more.
Some dude in line claimed to have clips from the Vegas DVD that some girl hooked him up with.
*Note* Chris said, "I'm trying to give the best review possible...please don't bash me if something is wrong."
I was not very excited coming into this show as opposed to the HOB (House Of Blues) show where I could not sleep for days before the event. I didn't think this show would be nearly as good as the HOB show. Before the concert started, I got to hang out with other GNR Bar members and I was in line with C2YA talking about GNR and stuff. Anyway, once the door opened I tried to get right up to the stage but people were already crowded up against the barrier so I just went to the souvenir stand and got 2 T-shirt. They are not nearly as cool as "Chinese Democracy Starts Now!" shirts but I had to get them anyway (I can take a pic of the shirts like last year and send it to somebody who can post them). So after I got the shirts I ended up getting a really awesome seat. I was right up against the railing on the first fold which was like raised about a foot from where the other floor section was. It was great because nobody got in my way. I could see everything clearly. After about 3 hours of waiting, the lights dimmed, the balcony opened, and the big screen TVs were on.
There were 2 new opening clips. The first one made no sense at all to me. It was some cheesy B-movie of a soldier running through enemy fire. I had no idea what the hell that had to do with anything. the second clip also did not make much sense to me either. It had something to do with money and how we are a slave to money. Once the clip ended, they started to play Welcome To The Jungle and the place went nuts.
I don't know what the hell happened to Axl. He either got liposuction or went on some amazing diet because he looks like he lost about 25 + pounds from the RIR (Rock In Rio 3) gig. He first came out wearing a football jersey then he changed into one of those Bruce Lee kung fu gi's (the ones that are all black with white buttons). He left it unbutton. I'm gonna quote Bart Simpson when I say this but Axl "could grate cheese on his abs." The guy looked great. Buckethead was his typical self. Nothing new. Robin Finck had longer hair as did Tommy Stinson. Paul looks the same and Brain shaved his head completely bald. Dizzy has long dread locks. Oh and Chris Pitman...I'm not sure if I am right because it was a little hard to see (I have bad vision) but it looked as if he was going for the Slipknot look. I think he had some sort of mask on with zippers on it and long dread locks. Anyway he looked awesome. A lot better then he gay biker look he was going with before.
I have two complaints about this show. 1) They pretty much used the SAME EXACT SET LIST as they did at HOB and Rio. Except they didn't play Nightrain and Rhiad. My second complaint was the sound. All I know is by today, somebody is going to be looking for a job. Those techs did a horrible job. There were times where Axl's voice kept dropping in and out especially during Oh My God where his mic did not work at all. I have never seen him look so pissed off in my life. The band was playing a great version of Oh My God (the best I have heard) but there were no vocals. Axl kept walking backstage (probably to cuss them out) and coming back onstage. At one point he just stood there with this look on his face as if he was saying "somebody is going to die." Near the end of Oh My God, Axl walked off stage and at the very end of the song Robin Finck threw his guitar on the floor and the entire band left the stage. At this point everybody was either pissed off or worried (or both). Worried because there was a very good chance that the show was over. Then out of the blue they got back on stage as if nothing went wrong and started playing. I have to hand it to Tommy Stinson, even with all the problems going on, he maintained his composure and sang the chorus to the song.
That was not the only thing that was screwed up with the sound. Buckethead's solos could barely even be heard. I could not even hear his solo at the end of November Rain. However, with those major flaws in the show, I must say that they exceeded my expectations and played a better show then they did at HOB and Rio. The band played every song like it was meant to be played and Axl's voice was louder then it was before (despite the audio problems). They played harder and louder then they did at HOB and it was just a better show in my opinion.
I would have to say that the biggest surprise of the show was Silk Worms. They did some serious tweaking with this song and it sounds amazing. The other version just had a bunch of noises that didn't really fit together. This newer version works perfectly and it follows a structure. November Rain was great. Axl had a new piano intro to the song and Madagascar was amazing. Before this show, I would say that Madagascar was not one of my favorites of the new songs. However, for some reason this version sounded much harder. I loved it.
I was a little disappointed with Buckethead. He had a pretty long solo act going on where he was alone on stage (no kung fu moves this time) just shredding on guitar. I was not very impressed by it. It didn't sound all that great. Where he did impress me is when he played an acoustic guitar right before Patience. I have never in my life heard an acoustic guitar sound so good. He did some crazy finger picking on that song.
Brain...this guy is amazing. I can't stress how important he is to the band. His drumming made this show great.
Robin nailed ever solo that he played.
And Axl...his voice gets better and better with every show. His voice sounds so much cleaner and he has more range. He is able to hold his voice for a pretty long time. He is just Altogether a much different person. I was shocked when he was shacking hands with the fans. And his speech that he gave...well it answered a lot of questions.
He talked about why the European Tour was canceled. His story follows the press release that was given to the press when they canceled it. Turns out the record label wanted to make some money so they booked the shows without Axl's knowledge. It was funny because he said the first time he found out he was playing in Europe was when he read it on the Internet. He said that he was not ready for the shows and instead of canceling it they postponed it to later dates because they had already made a lot of money off of it (they sold out most of the venues according to Axl) and did not want to give a refund. And as we all know...those shows got canceled. He also talked about how the HOB and RIR shows were not planned by him and that the band was not even prepared. Axl said that before they rehearsed for the shows, much of them members in the band had never even spoken one work to each other. He also took time out to give another stab at the old members. He said they were not in GNR for GNR. They just loved the celebrity of the whole thing. Then he went on to say that these shows in Vegas were his planning and they were actually ready to play the gig. Axl jokingly acknowledged that because he planned it that everything had to mess up (the sound) and he said "but that's OK." The audience (including myself) were puzzled. Like "who the @#%$ is this guy? what did he do to Axl?" It was amazing to see Axl brush it off like it was nothing. if this had happened in the 80s or early 90s, Axl would have thrown a fit.
The most touching part of the speech was at the end where he said (this isn't an exact quote) "we have been working day and night on this album. You may like it or you may hate it but I gave it my best." This is about the time where I totally accepted the fact that GNR IS AXL ROSE.
They closed the show with Paradise City (my neck is still hurting from head banging to this song) and that was the end of what was probably the greatest GNR show.