Leeds Carling Festival
- Dave Simpson, The Guardian
The Carling Festival's reputation as one of the more corporate pop festivals is taking a battering. Logos are refreshingly thin on the ground and the festival seems actually geared to music. This year's bill treads a fine line between acting as a barometer of pop at the moment (okay, no manufactured pop acts, but plenty of punk/pop/metal hybrids) and offering enough glimpses of history to place the music in some sort of context.
In this and every other respect, obtaining Guns 'n' Roses for their first UK appearance in a decade is a marvellous coup. After a nervous additional 75 minute wait, sole original member Axl Rose finally dispels fears of incompetence, tantrums and the curfew and thrills the biggest crowd of the weekend. Without infamous guitarist Slash, Guns don't cause riots anymore - they just sound like one. Blistering renditions of Welcome to the Jungle and Axl's hilarious response to a heckler are delivered with equal raw feeling: "Where's Slash? He's in my ass! Fuckhead!" Business as usual, then.
Another coup is booking the Sex Pistols, although this turns out to be the Prodigy impersonating them, with the rapidly ageing Keith Flint, a cross between Johnny Rotten and Charlie Drake. As they shift from dance to kid-friendly punk-metal, they suddenly sound very silly indeed, with songs about date rape drug Rohypnol masquerading as shock tactics. "This is dangerous!" yells the pantomime Flint. Oh no it isn't. A day later, much debate ensues over whether the Strokes - with one good but derivative album behind them - are worthy of a headline. A mere 40 minutes after their arrival, their brisk but alarmingly brief set suggests not.
If the main stage provides rock's past and present, the quest for the future leads to the tents. Here, the Mercury-nominated Streets provide the most original voice of the weekend. This belongs to Mike Skinner, a sort of Brummie poet laureate for the dance generation, whose dazzling raps on street life are met with hero worship.
The oddest triumph of the weekend belongs to Texans The Polyphonic Spree, a 25-person ensemble in white robes with assorted instruments who resemble a bizarre religious sect. Somewhere between Pet Sounds and Waco, their absurdly gleeful, pop songs-cum-chants ("I love my soul!") result in mass euphoria. Expect them on the main stage next year, along with a mysterious surge in orders for white robes.
GUNS UK COMEBACK DELAYED
GUNS N' ROSES show at LEEDS CARLING WEEKEND was delayed by over an hour last night resulting in a "very substantial overrun" for festival organisers to deal with.
The band were due headline the Main Stage, due on at 10pm following The Prodigy. However, the stage was running approximately half an hour late, fueling rumours whether the band would actually appear.
They did, but not until after 11pm - over an hour behind schedule. The Gunners then played a set running to almost two hours, not finishing until just before 1am.
Their show, the band's first in the UK in almost a decade, was similar to that on other nights in the tour, featuring a small amount of new songs and their greatest hits.
Eyewitnesses claim that at about 12.15am, just before 'November Rain', Axl announced the council and promoters wanted him to finish the show. He said he didn't want any trouble, but he still wanted to play another 7-8 songs.
He added that he had travelled a long way for the dates, and didn't want to disappoint - much to the crowd's joy.
They played two more songs, when it was announced they had been given more time, and the show continued without disruption, ending with 'Paradise City'.
Melvin Benn, a spokesperson for the festival said in a statement: "It was a very unusual night which due to technical problems resulted in a very substantial overrun. We took a good number of steps to minimise the impact this would have on the local environment and we do not expect this to happen again.
"In view of the many thousands of fans that had waited diligently for the first Guns N' Roses appearance in nine years, and the potential consequences of that meant an overrun became the only option."
Guns 'N Roses headline London Docklands Arena on Monday (August 26).
Guns N' Roses refuse to leave stage at Leeds Festival
Guns N' Roses played a set packed with favourites at the opening night of the Leeds Festival.
Their headline set was very similar to the one they played on their tour of the Far East.
The band made sure the fans got their money's worth by refusing to leave the stage at the scheduled time of 11.30pm.
Axl Rose told the audience: "They want us to get off, but we're not going. We're going to play another seven or eight songs."
The band eventually finished a two-hour set at 1am. They had been late to start as The Prodigy and other acts overran.
Rose's long-standing feud with former guitarist Slash was also a feature of the show.
One of the guitarists wore his hair in the style of Slash along with an upturned KFC bucket on his head bearing the word "funeral".
Guns N' Roses bring Leeds to its knees!
24 August 2002
There's only one band that could so effortlessly make underdogs of The Prodigy, and bully the promotors into jeopardising the already delicate future of a festival, so that they can perform a full set in light of technical delays. GNR play until 1am!
Despite a line-up that would rank as exceptional, without their presence (Incubus, Slipknot, Puddle of Mud, The Offspring - The Prodigy's first English appearance since 1998!), there was but one band dominating the proceedings at the first day of the Carling Weekend: Leeds Festival 2002. From the t-shirts, to the campsite stereos, to the abundance of bandanas and top hats in the crowd, to the backstage gossip to the comedy tent banter, the entire site was overshadowed by a heavy fog of anticipaction.
Indeed, this marked the first UK appearance by Guns N' Roses for nine years, and represented the unveiling of an all-new line-up. The Leeds site was packed to bursting point with people of all ages wanting to be a part of this momentous event - from the die hard nostalgia junkies to the new metal kids (who pilfered their big brothers' record collections to hear this stuff, in the same way that their big brothers nicked their dad's Led Zeppelin), to the plain curious who simply wished to see if there is life after Slash.
From the moment the band arrived, the show effectively began, as the cavalcade of no less than eight police-escorted black stretch limosines cruised onto the site, disappearing into the expansive sealed-off 'GNR only' area occupying half of the backstage compound.
Due to 'technical difficulties' they took the stage an hour and a half later than schedule, kicking off with a short film intro at 11.30pm (the normal curfew time for the event!). The set was virtually identical to that of the recent Hong Kong shows, relying heavily on material from the Appetite for Destruction, with the inclusion of 2 new songs, 'Madagascar' and 'Chinese Democracy', title track from the forthcoming album. Rose was notable for his lack of costume changes (he donned black leather trousers and an American football top throughout) and his voice which was more consistent and controlled than ever. The new band added a slick new sheen and professional tightness to the older songs.
The controversy kicked off mid-way through the set, when Rose announced, "Looks like this is going to be an interesting night. I have just been informed by Leeds city council and the promotors [Mean Fiddler] that they want me to end the show [due to the time constraints resulting from the earlier delays]. Now, I don't want to be accused of inciting a riot, but I didn't come all the way to England to be told to go home again! I've had nothing but shit from the press here. Axl this, Axl that. Anyway, if you stay here, we'll keep playing and we'll see what happens".
With the festival's future at this venue already in jeopardy, due to local campaigns that nearly prevented its licence this year, the promotors were instantly thrust into a very difficult position. In 1992, riots broke out in St. Louis (Rose was charged with incitement) and Montreal after GNR cut their sets short.
Obviously, it was decided that pulling the power just wasn't worth the risk, and Axl subsequently announced, "They're going to let us carry on. I want to thank whoever was responsible for that".
Rose reacted to a Virtual Festivals crew member's chants of "We want Slash" by quipping, "Up my arse, that's where Slash is. Fuck off, go home". The band eventually left the stage after 1am - unheard of for a British Festival.
The full set list was:
'Welcome To The Jungle'
'It's So Easy'
'Live And Let Die'
'Think About You'
'You Could Be Mine'
'Sweet Child O' Mine'
'Knockin' On Heaven's Door'
'Out Ta Get Me'
Leeds 2002 - Friday
23 August 2002
As it reaches curfew time (an hour and a half after they were due to take the stage), the headliners have still not appeared. In fact, there have been rumours for weeks that they would never appear. Why, they haven't appeared for over nine years. And then, in a sudden flash, the opening bars of 'Welcome to the Jungle' burst forth like a ravenous beast returning to reclaim its territory. For a split second, the crowd is silent - stunned. Then 50,000 voices cry out in unison. This is it. The celebration of celebrations. Up there with World Cup Victories and Moon Landings. It's really happening. Guns N' Roses are back!
Axl Rose wastes no time in bee-lining it up the front of stage ramp, and takes his trademark stance, foot on the monitor, beaming like a child in a Disney Land advert, beneath his red bandana and American Football top. My god, it's 1992. The illusion is only betrayed by the man's size upgrade, dreadlocks, fine-tuned voice and of course, this new cast of characters.
'It's So Easy', 'Mr. Brownstone' and 'Live and Let Die' follow in quick-fire succession. The band are immaculately tight. Perhaps this is the problem. Slash and his old lot, for all their glory, were a ramshackle bunch live, at the best of times. That was part of the charm, surely. These new people are technically superb musicians, and the 3 guitarists juggle Slash's solos note for note, but it's missing the soul that made them so much more special than the rest of the late eighties hard rock crop.
This is going through the motions on a big scale, and it's a feeling I can only liken to sleeping with an ex-partner. You've both moved on, and the magic is not there now - it's out of context. It's all a bit weird. Regrettable, jeopardising those cherished memories of the good times. Well, that's until they kick into 'Think About You', the one you always skipped on your Appetite CD. But wait a minute - it sounds bloody good! Better than it did originally. At last, on a song that the old band never played live, the new boys are coming out of their shells, and showing us that they have a sound of their own. It's post-modern with a funky edge and almost Matt Bellamy-esque guitar tones.
Having found their feet and earned our acceptance, the band throw themselves headlong into the rest of the set, which is nothing less than blistering. 'You Could Be Mine' outclasses any previous live verson, and now they are more relaxed, the transcribed solos give way to some impressive, playful improvisation.
Rose is, unsurprisingly, in excellent spirits. "Look at all these f**king people!", he laughs, before congratulating us for discounting the no-show rumours.
How we rejoice when that legendary confrontational spirit emerges. Past midnight, they have only played half the set, but the promotors and city council want them offstage, because it is improper to enjoy oneself at such an hour amongst a large public gathering, don't you know.
"I didn't come all the way to England to be told to go home by some asshole!", fires Rose [referring to festival organiser Melvin Benn], "Tell you what - I don't want to be accused of inciting a riot, but if you stay here, we'll stay, and we'll see what happens." For a moment, there is an uncomfortable air of confrontation. Afterall, this sort of thing hasn't happened for nearly a decade. Live outdoor music events are now slick, respectable affairs. Axl's ear to ear grin suggests that he's missed all this as much as we have, and grown men are crying with joy.
As it happens, the council agrees to extend the festival's licence so the band can play on. Not so much as a gesture of good nature, rather that a riot could prove rather expensive. So Guns N' Roses go down as the only band in history to mess with fearsome promotors Mean Fiddler and emerge victorious. What an amazing night this is turning out to be.
'Knocking on Heaven's Door' is restored to its reggae roots, although without the "I'll sing one then you sing one" bits, it's a little flat. New songs 'Madagascar' and 'Chinese Democracy', however, showcase the new band in their full glory, complete with post-modern/ sequencer sheen and a fresh, soulful quality to Axl's voice.
As the dying strains of 'Paradise City' ring out, the truth is well and truly out there. It may not be life as we know it, but there is certainly life after Slash. I have been converted. Shame on me for my initial doubts. Can't wait to catch them again.
Let's meet the band...
Buckethead (guitar): A disturbing figure with an expressionless white-painted face and a KFC bucket on his head, this man has fast fingers and looks like an undead Kevin Shields from Primal Scream. He even gets a solo spot, where he pulls off a dazzling, yet surreal 'nunchukka spinning' and robotic dancing display.
Robin Finck (guitar): Formerly of Nine Inch Nails, this odd looking but strangely endearing character looks like he'd be more at home in the Marilyn Manson band. Gothed up to the eyeballs with tight one-piece zipped up suit, the tall, skinny Finck struts around the stage with style and grace, and his playing is phenominal, whether it's sleezy blues soloing or weaving futuristic sci-fi noise.
Richard Fortus (guitar): The newest and youngest addition, and the only human-looking guitarist, Fortus is Izzy Stradlin on speed, with the stonesey vibe, chopping his telecaster like a man possessed by Keith Richards.
Tommy Stinson (bass): The only let-down of the new band, Stinson is invisible, save for his black and white checkered suit. Must think he's in Robby Williams' band.
Brain (drums): Not exceptional, but definitely more Adler than Sorum.
Dizzy Reed (Keyboards): The only other member besides Rose to play with the old band. Dizzy is obviously so far under Axl's thumb, that he is sporting the same silly dreadlocks as his master.
The full set list was:
'Welcome To The Jungle'
'It's So Easy'
'Live And Let Die'
'Think About You'
'You Could Be Mine'
'Sweet Child O' Mine'
'Knockin' On Heaven's Door'
'Out Ta Get Me'
Friday - Guns 'N' Roses
The Guns N' Roses rumour mill is set to explode, as are everyone's nerves as we wait, an hour overdue for the first sight of Axle in on UK turf in over nine years. The rumours mount: Axle's Bald. He is arriving by private jet. The shows cancelled.... and then the video monitors kick into gear with a dazzle of anti-war images, the lights die and the most incredible sound possibly yet heard at Temple Newsam hits us square- the opening riff to 'Welcome To The Jungle'.
Axle bounds on stage sounding, and looking great. His voice sounds little changed from the momentous roar we grew up to during the early 90's - 'Mr Brownstone' and 'Night Train' particularly dramatic, intense moments early on.
Its hard to put into words the huge weight the clearly revitalised Guns have tonight - they're clearly an old-school light year above any of the new pretenders. It may be Guns 'N' Roses -Sans 4- but with the showmanship of Buckethead (including the notorious Robot dance) and blazing prowess of second guitarist.
Halfway through a momentous 'November Rain' we hit official curfew time, but Axle's having none of it. The epic GNR bandwagon has gained unstoppable momentum and neither Mean Fiddler, or Leeds council have the weight to stop it.
Tonight's gig is a monument to pure rock 'n' roll desire - the delayed album, cancelled gigs and a late showing are all in the past... W. Axle Rose, you are forgiven.
The Convict 2001's Review
Well, ok, run down of my day.
First...up very early, get in the car, out of the driveway by 8:30, get to Temple Newsham at 10:00.
Eventually, at 11:00 or so we're allowed in and i straight away head for the merchandise stands and pick up two offical GnR tour shirts and a prodigy one. Then i picked up a Smashing Pumpkins hoodie and a cool Atari shirt from another stall using the money i got for passing my Exams.
Eventually, the first band came on *The Dillinger Escape Plan* and let me tell you...THEY SUCK! i was expecting some sorta heavy rock, but this guy just screamed for the hell of it and the first thing the singer did was throw his Mic stand into the crowd! - 0/10
Second up was Amen, who, despite the hype, and lack of record deal, still suck as much the first time i saw them, their amps blew out, and he dissed Axl - 1/10
Then we both went to the Radio 1 Stage to see Sparta, who i had planned to see for a while, and we were not dissapointed, top quality, check these out if you can! - 9/10
Then as we headed towards the main stage, NOFX came on...
NOFX - Again, the main stage stunk up the place, so bad in fact i fell asleep on the hill near the stage, haha - 1/10 (for the sole fact the guitarist played *some lead coz he was in Leeds*)
Incubus - While i don't like this band, i felt they put in a solid performance and on reflection had a couple of decent songs - 6/10
Then, Slipknot came on, i'm a fan of this band, and personally, i thought they didn't dissapoint, they had a fiery, energetic set and i'm just lucky i knew the songs otherwise it woulda been the most inaudbile bollox ever - 8/10
Next, were Offspring, who took one hour to set up their stage, god knows why, they had no fireworks or anything, and their setup was just ordinary, but they came out, much to the crowds delight and played a good, energetic set with most of their mainstream hits such as *Original Prankster* and *Pretty Fly For A White Guy* - 7/10
Then, next up was The Prodigy, and let me say, they were fuckin awesome. DJ Maxim was the personification of coolness with his eyes done up and cool dreads and Keith was all over the stage in a cool pink outfit. They played songs like Breathe (my favourite) Fuel My Fire, Baby's Got A Temper and Firestarter. This was the most energetic band, they really had the crowd going, even my dad was well into it, amazing band.
Then, finally, GUNS N' ROSES!! The band 50% of the audience were there to see. There was a lengthy delay while they fixed up the stage, and now i know why the delay was so long, but you'll find out later. Finally, the cool intro from Exorcist 3 comes on *i believe in death* etc, then, the famous Welcome To The Jungle intro begins, and the whole crowd, including myself, went absolutely mental for the song, and when it kicked in, it was amazing, the band seemed well tuned and tight already. I was already tired after the first song, through singing and jumping. Then right after WTTJ they kicked in with It's So Easy, which was, as expected, well played, and full of life.
Because of the late start, there was no time for between song banter, so it was song after song for the first 5 or 6. Mr Brownstone came next, and like the rest, was exceptional.
The band got through songs like Think About You, Live And Let Die (which was AMAZING!) Knockin On Heavens Door (similar to the RIR3 version) and You Could Be Mine, which i had been looking forward to all night.
The big screens to show the bands performances were great. As sometimes the screen would record a certain bit and then play and replay it over and over again and had cool images of war, drag racers and naked women over the songs.
Soon enough, it came the time for Buckethead to do his little solo spot. First he starts doing his funky robot dancing over a hip hop type soundtrack, then he cracks out the nunchukas and began twirling them around really fast. Then he was given a guitar and proceeded to rip out the best solo i have seen in my life, and seeing it live made it so much better, i swear, it was so amazing.
Soon enough, Axl sits at his piano, and makes the announcement that they are past curfew, and have been told to wrap up the show...much to the crowds annoyance.,,
*But i didn't wait 8 years to come over here for you guys, it's been Axl Rose this, Axl Rose that in the press, and i am not gonna be told what to do by some asshole, i think we still have 7-8 songs left*
After that, Axl played like a little piano ditty, and after 5 or so seconds he would look to the crowd and we would cheer back our approval. Real funny stuff, last thing i expected...then they played a full November Rain, Sweet Child Of Mine, robin finck solo bit
they played it! oh god i nearly cried! and they played The Blues! amazing!
i know this set is out of order, but i'm to hyped to remember it all correctly...
then, the final song was Paradise City of course, amazing, especially when it kicked in after the whistle bit, then at the end of the song, 5 big Catherine Wheels come on, loads of confetti (i caught loads and put it on my wall) and flames, and smoke, and the band carried on!
Then it ended as soon as it began, Axl had promised to come back soon.
Axl looked a picture of health, not fat at all, his hair looked cool, and his dress sense is as weird as ever
the rest of the band seemed a fully functioning unit, personally, i feel that the GnR come back will be the best thing to happen to the music industry for a long time.
this was one of the greatest days i've had, and it makes up for last years twice cancelled tour, i couldn't have asked for a better show
Dont Damn Me's Review
I don't know where to start so I will just make random points about the show while there still fresh in my head.
The show was amazing and GNR were extremely well received I was only a couple of people away from the very front and everyone in the crowd around me sang the words to every song - it was @#%$ amazing, the best night of my life.
1) The singer from the Offspring said something on stage about AXL but I missed it.
2) Madagascar - trust me the Rio bootleg does not do this song justice, live it was a @#%$ epic, there is so much going on that you just can't hear on the Rio version. This was the highlight of the show, it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, I was totally blown away.
3) Axl was wearing exactly the same clothes as in the Hong Kong Gig, why does he wear t-shirts that are 5 sizes to big?
4) KOHD, Axl has this new thing where he holds the mike about 2 feet from his mouth and does this amazing high pitched scream, it sounded so awesome during this song.
5) Richard Fortus on rhythm is a total natural live, he looks just like Izzy and was putting 100% into the whole show.
6) Fink was a lot more animated than in RIR he was stomping all over the stage, and to my surprise so was BH during Paradise City.
7) 'Up my ass, that's where Slash is, now go home!' - ~Axl quote
8) They only played 2 new songs Madagascar and The Blues
9) Before November Rain Axl played this kind of comedy tune on the piano, he kept stopping and looking at the crowd, who were cheering, with a big grin on his face.
10) At one point the crowd wouldn't stop cheering, the section I was in was just shouting AXL, AXL, AXL in unison, he said 'stop, your're embarrassing me'.
11) The stage didn't have loads of TV's etc spread around like in Rio, infact I would say that the Prodigy (who were good live just a bit over dramatic) had a better stage setup.
12) When BH did his solo - which was damn good, a guy with a monkey mask was dancing around on stage.
13) When BH played the solo at the end of November Rain he had a severed head on top of his bucket.
14) Before November Rain Axl said 'We're going to have an interesting night tonight because if we carry on I could get arrested for inciting a riot'. Basically it was curfew time and GNR hadn't finished, Axl started a rant saying he didn't travel all this @#%$ way to be told he can't play, he said the word '@#%$' a lot in his rant and the crowd loved it.
15) The first thing Axl said to the crowd was something like 'Well, it seems like you motherfuckers actually believed that I would show up!, look how many people there are.'
16) The set was the typical new GNR set, again they did not play My Michelle.
17) There were more people wearing GNR t-shirts than any other band t-shirt, I spoke to a few people who had come to see GNR, none of them had heard of Live Era or about the new band.
18) They didn't screw up You Could Be Mine.
Thats about all I can remember for now, seeing so many old school GNR t-shirts did make me miss the old band, but this new one is not a replacement just an evolution and tonight they were amazing. I wish they had played more new songs and its appears we will never hear them play more songs from UYI which is a shame.
Hello guys. First off I'd like to say sorry for not posting yesterday straight after the show but my every time i tried to get in to the bar I would get an errror message. (I think it was shut, it was 5am after all)
Yesterday's show was the greatest live show I have ever seen.
Axl hasn't aged a day. The man still looks 28.
The new band are so tight its unbeliveable and even the people that were slagging Axl off before the show had to say how good the show was.
Axl hit every note perfectly and his voice is in awesome condision(sp). The scream's that he does during Live and Let Die were incredible. I watched Rock in Rio yesterday morning cos I couldn't sleep and after seeing the show you can tell Axl wasn't really ready then.Now the anger and passion the he used to sing songs with is back. Out Ta Get Me proved this. The was even ranting.
Somebody must have had a where Slash sign or something and when Axl saw it he said: "He's in my ass, that's where Slash is. Fuckhead. Go home."
When Leeds council tried to stop the show at midnight Axl sat down at the piano before November Rain and explained what was happening and said he didn't want to be blamed for causing a riot so if we wanted them to stay they would.
When the crowd roared he starting ranting saying all he's had in the press foe 8 years is shit. Axls this and Axls that and i'm not coming all this way for some asshole to tell him to go home. He was also suprised at the size of the crowd he said look at all the fuckin people and asked Buckethead if he liked it.
At the end of the show he thanked us for coming and said "by the looks of things we'll be seeing you again"
Axl wore the black 99 shirt with Rose on the back and leather trousers and his hair looked cool. Tommy wore a checked suit and took the jacket off after about 4 songs. Buckethead was as usual. Robin wore like a black boiler suit with zips on it Richard has black trouseres and a red t-shirt. Dizzy had a black vest top with a white star on the front. I couldn't really see Chris or Brain.
I think they have changed Madagascar and The Blues, the only new songs the played, a bit but it might just be the sound quaility. The Madagascar solo has changed and both songs seem a bit more rocky. They've also modified KOHD and its wicked.
To top everything of I was about 10 row's from the front and during the end of PC I gave Axl the Peace sign. He smiled and did it back. I nearly died.
Sorry I havn't got photos. I had my camera stolen. Thats all I can remember at the mo if you have any question post them and I answer if I can. I just got to wait till Monday Now.