Tacoma Dome, Tacoma, WA
November 8th 2002

The Lollipop Kid's Review

Sorry if this seems a bit rushed. I got out of the T-dome at 12:04 and I have my review up by 12:40.That is pretty good if u ask me!

Merchandise Lots of Tshirts we havent seen ( i think they were 35 bucks, maybe 25) They even had a purple basketbal jersey that said Gnr on front and "Rose 8" on back. They had GnR belt buckles for all you hicks too!

Let's see here. I am not really gonna get too much into the opening bands. CKY wasn't that special. I mean, they seem like a decent band, and they DEFINITELY tried to get the crowd into it, but I dont think anyone knew their songs. They started it off by shouting, "Do any of you even know who the fuck we are?! We're CKY!" Mix Master Mike was cool though. I thought there was more energy coming from him, although most people didnt get into a lot of the music he played. There was one cool mix that people started getting into, Disturbed's Down with the Sickness and RATM Bull's on Parade. He also played stuff by the Beasties, NERD, House of Pain,Linkin Park, Rob Zombie, Busta Rhymes...

Crowd estimation: Hell if I know. 5 or 6 thousand. *shrugs*

Anyway, on to the main shiznit. GnR was "supposed" to take the stage at around 9. They came on at 9:50. How I love to wait!

The stage. There were two levels to the stage. The main stage and then a smaller elevated stage (for drums and keys) that was connected to the main stage by two sets of stairs (about five stairs in each set) On each side of the main stage there were these slightly elevated "wings" things as I call them. So Axl or whoever could race from one wing, across the main stage, and then onto the other wing. I was surprised that nobody tripped trying to do that. Behind the elevated second stage were three video screens. Behind that were 8 long golden tapestries that had Chinese writing on them.

They opened with the same intro they have been doing forever. The one from RIR 3 if you need to be reminded. Kicks into WTTJ. Next was It's so Easy. I noticed that Buckethead was moving around more on stage than I have usually seen him do. He was on the small elevated stage next to Brain and the drums quite a bit.

Axl: same outfit throughout. White Raiders jersey #80, black leather pants, red bandana, braids.
Robin: Black button up shirt, black pants. It also looked like he cut his hair shorter in back. It made him look like an old bald man. I didnt like it. He also wore black and white tuxedo shoes. (bUt he is still the coolest dude I know!)
Tommy: Gray (I think) t-shirt, gray (i think) pants.
Fortus: Black and white checked pants. Gray T-shirt with "LiP" on it.
Brain: Red baseball cap. Sleeveless red t'shirt. Couldnt read what it said on it.
Buckethead: Cargo beige khakis, blue top, dark cape.

Next came Brownstone.
Then LALD. Flames burst from the stage on this song, and scared the shit out of me at first with loud bangs and stuff. Pictures of bombs exploding were on the screens. Axl let out 3 really long, and pretty damn good screams on this track too. Flames lasted for most of the song. It also looked like Robin wore a black motorcycle helmet during this song. One of those small ones people used to wear back in the day. *dont quote me on that!)

Think about you.
After YCBM Axl says, "you didn't think we'd be here, did you?"
Next is KOHD.
Finck Solo-solo cuts into SCOM. Finck also switches from a black guitar to a brownish one. He uses the brown one the rest of the show. ROBIN KICKS ASS on the solos for this one! Best I have ever heard him do for SCOM.

Place goes dark and on video screen there is a short movie showing some redneck sherrif saying something like, "I dont know who you are, but we dont like that kind of attitude around here."
Cuts into Out ta Get me.

Next Axl says something like, (Dont quote me on this) "It would appear axl called the police before I even cancelled the show. (then he says something about honesty." Then, "Now back to fun and games. What song should we do?"
My Michelle. (Says something about cup holders)
Robin Finck solo-cuts into Chinese Democracy (chinese writing on screen)
After CD finished Axl thanks CKY and MMM for entertaining the crowd earlier.
Next he says (I think!) "'This is a song about how professional racing pisses me off."
Madagascar. (Shows clips on civil rights movement on screen)

Next axl says "lemme see the piano. You guys gettin' ready for the interlude?"
November Rain. Buckethead offstage for song until last part. Showers of sparks come down at the end of NR.
The Blues (This song of all the new ones played seemed to get the best crowd reaction. Axl did a good job singing here.)
Axl introduces Buckethead.
First Bucket does the nunchucks. Then he does a kick ass dance. The crowd LOVES it.
Buckethead plays a bunch of stuff. There was one I didn't know, then something off Colma. Star Wars. Pirates of the Carribean. Chicken Binge. (I think the crowd really loved Bucket!)

Rocket Queen. Axl seems to miss a few bars on this song. (Introduces Fortus during RQ too)
Next is Patience. Axl puts on a mini KFC hat on his head. Then he puts another one on his chin. (Two mini KFC buckets at once!) Then he puts them both on his ears. Bumps into Tommy and starts laughing. Axl gets the crowd to wave their arms at the end of the song.

Next you hear the Night train whistle blow. "Fuckin whistle," laughs Axl.
Night Train. Axl puts on cowboy hat.
Encore: Robin solo, Paradise City.

So that's it. No new songs. Not much of an explanation. It was just one of GnR's regular shows. Fortus was the shit, though! He was all over the place and really brough Robin and Tommy into the fray with him. Fortus has such a better stage presence than Tobias.
I sorta noticed that Buckethead really didnt go near anyone the entire night, unless he was on the elevated stage next to Brain and the drums and keyboarders.
Oh well, I dont know what else to say.

Jeff Boerio's Review

CKY played from 7:30 - 8:05. Lukewarm reception. They didn't get much PA so you couldn't hear a lot of stuff. Mix Master Mike played from 8:25pm until 9:00pm. DJ stuff might be OK for clubs n' stuff, but this is a rock n' roll show. Maybe I'm old. It didn't fit at all.

Lights went down at 9:48pm. 9:55 the video started. Here's the set list:

Welcome to the Jungle, It's So Easy, Mr. Brownstone, Live and Let Die,
Think About You, You Could Be Mine, Knockin' On Heaven's Door, Sweet Child O' Mine,
Out Ta Get Me, My Michelle, Chinese Democracy, Madagascar,
November Rain, The Blues, Buckethead's solo, Rocket Queen, Patience,
Nightrain. The encore was Paradise City.

Show was over at 12:05am.

Things of note. The impression I had from sitting in the arena was that GNR was supposed to go on at 9:30pm. However, I noticed the paperwork while I was backstage that saig Guns was supposed to be on at 9:05pm. OK, but it didn't seem like an hour late; it seemed to flow right. From where I was sitting, the PA was all over the map. Sometimes I could hear Axl, sometimes I couldn't. I thought perhaps the same sound engineer that was used in Vegas (that I didn't like) was here, but that's not the case. So I dunno. After YCBM, he said "I'll bet you didn't think we'd be here." Those were about as many words at one time that he said to the crowd. There was no long rant or anything. He did make a snide comment about Vancouver, but I didn't completely understand what he said. I gotta listen to the KISW stuff.

Lots of pyro during many songs. They're gonna have to be careful, or someone's gonna wind up like Hetfield. Stage is pretty cool, but my angle was pretty tight for most of the show. Three video screens behind the stage and huge tapestries behind that with Chinese lettering. Lights were pretty cool. The shirt that Richard was wearing said "PiL not "LiP" as previously reported.

During Patience, I thought Tommy was gonna completely lose it he was laughing so hard. Someone had thrown a couple of mini KFC buckets on stage with elastic on them, so you could wear it like a birthday hat. Axl picked them up and put one on. He looked ridiculous. Then he took the other one and put it on upside down so it was on his chin. Then he put one on each ear, and eventually one over each cheek and it looked like a gas mask.

Expect an article in the LA Times. It should be interesting because the guy was sitting right next to Rebecca and me. I helped him get a bunch of facts straight (song titles, list, people in the band, etc). Also talked about lots of stuff about the state of GNR today. I have no idea what will get printed, but I probably said too much.

After the show, I got to talk with Del for a bit. Also spoke with Dizzy, Robin, Richard and Tommy briefly. 11/7 was Robin's birthday, and he was kinda bummed that he didn't get to play on his birthday. They were all extremely surprised at how the Vancouver stuff went down.

All in all, it seemed like Guns was just getting warmed up when the show was over. Hopefully the folks in Boise and everyone else down the line will get a great show!

Axl Blows Out Throat, Dons Chicken Bucket For Glitchy Guns Tour Launch
- Kurt Loder, MTV.com

TACOMA, Washington Crawling from the wreckage of their noisily aborted tour kickoff in Vancouver the night before which ended in a fan riot and a bloody, club-wielding response by local police (see "Fans Riot After Guns N' Roses Tour Kickoff Canceled: Kurt Loder Reports" ) Guns N' Roses came charging into the Tacoma Dome, about 45 minutes outside of Seattle, with considerable pent-up energy on Friday. Unfortunately, there wasn't quite enough of it to entirely overcome some annoying technical obstacles that laid in wait.

The Dome is a boomy place at best; with only about half of its 22,500 seats occupied, as was the case with this show, the resulting sonic wallow often obscured the band's remarkable precision. On top of that, singer Axl Rose's microphone line slowly deteriorated throughout the course of the two-hour-plus set: By the end, his trademark wail was jabbing in and out of the mix so erratically that he started overcompensating, and finished the night (we were told) with blown vocal cords.

These sound problems obscured some of the best efforts of an impressive band. The new Guns N' Roses is a big group three guitars and two keyboards along with bass and drums and the level of its musicianship is unusually high. One-time Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson and ex-Primus drummer Brian Mantia propel the band with the requisite bottom-end muscle, but with rare agility, too. Chris Pittman is extraordinarily flamboyant for a guy who traffics in keyboards. And former Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck, who tempers his screaming leads with soulful control, is also a maestro of pure, string-ripping noise.

And then there's Buckethead. You know that a guy wearing a deadpan white mask and a fried-chicken bucket on his head is becoming a serious cult star when a couple dozen fans turn up in the audience sporting KFC headware of their own. And you definitely know the news is out when Axl Rose himself, midway through the old Guns hit "Patience," straps on a little mini-bucket, too. But the really riveting thing about Buckethead who's a veteran of the avant-funk-fusion scene isn't his get-up; it's the jaw-dropping precision with which he can tear through a finger-blurring solo. He's super-fast and lyrical at the same time. He also does a robot-dance interlude that has to be witnessed to be fully appreciated.

All of the band's instrumental fireworks (and the show's explosive, old-school pyrotechnics) serve to illuminate the charismatic presence of Axl Rose, of course. His inimitable shriek remains ... well, inimitable and he can still hold those keening notes beyond what might seem to be normal human ability. He also probably racks up as much non-stop sprint mileage onstage as most frontmen half his age.

Chinese Democracy, the new Guns album Rose has been promising for the past decade, won't be out 'til February. (Yes so they say!) Therefore, the new band's repertoire is heavily studded with vintage tunes: "Welcome to the Jungle," of course, and "Paradise City." And everybody gets to sing along to "Sweet Child O' Mine," too, and "November Rain," "Live and Let Die," and "Mr. Brownstone." Even "Oh My God." (Well, maybe not.)

But the future of Guns N' Roses lies in the direction of the handful of new songs the group is currently playing: the gorgeous ballad "Madagascar," the gut-shaking "Rhiad" and the monumentally riffed-out "Chinese Democracy" itself. These songs, largely composed by Rose and the whole band (there are "probably hundreds" of others, according to keyboardist Dizzy Reed, probably exaggerating a bit), could sustain the ongoing GN'R project into a new creative era. It'd be nice to have them stick around.

Sonik Reducer's Review

Vancouver- was a fuckin' blast...liberal "street policies"...you go to the exchange place and give them $1000 and they give you damn close to $1500 back, yet all the prices are the same as the u.s...(on EVERYTHING, we won't elaborate there....)

oh yeah, the show (or lack thereof)...the riot was a blast, stoned chicks throwing bricks through windows of GM Place, pepper spray, nightsticks, cops slamming fans heads into those railings that look like bike racks....me and my friend dave were quite bummed, and we had a choice to make....

stay in vancouver another nite (bailing on the g n r tacoma show), or head down there anyways and take a chance

called the tacoma dome adminitstrative offices, and when i asked the lady on the other end of the phone if "elvis was in the building" she started laughing hysterically (i think every other caller must have been rather irate), and she replied that "he is supposed to show up"...

so off to tacoma we went

Tacoma G N R show review (from someone who has seen them before)

on a 10 scale..... at least an 8.5 if not a 9, no bullshit

2 full hours, 8-9 songs from appetite, what impressed me most was the SOUND of the band, other than a couple of technical glitches the sound was fucking TIGHT and clear...Rocket Queen was SICK!!! 3 songs from "Chinese Democracy" (a rocker, a mid and that ballad 'Madagascar'), and though they (the 3 songs) weren't pummelling, on first listen they sounded pretty good...

Axl's voice was right on the $$$, he smiled, pranced, and tried to do his little "slither snake" move, which was so-so, as it was obvious the Jerry Rice jersey was covering up a little girth accumulated over the last 10 years

buckethead did the "fast" solos, finck did the "mid/slower" solos (like sweet child, nov. rain), and the 3rd guitar player split the rhythym tracks with bucket, mantia the drummer sounded INCREDIBLE and the bass player (the guy from the replacements, his names on the tip of the tongue...) did duff better than duff did

anyhow, bottom line, GNR IS DEFINITELY WORTH IT, they sounded BETTER than they ever did in 92-93....

just my o-pin-yon, but if you get a chance you'd better go, you won't be dissapointed

(did I say it sounded good)???

Guns can't arrive until Rose does
- Robert Hilburn, LA Times

Day 1, singer's tardiness spurred disaster. Day 2, they're rocking along the comeback trail.

TACOMA, Wash. -- Welcome back to the jungle.

After nine years on the sidelines, Guns N' Roses, the most popular and volatile American hard-rock band of the '80s, is on the loose again in the U.S.

And one thing's for sure: The second day of the tour was better than the first.

It got off to a disastrous start Thursday when hundreds of fans rioted in Vancouver, Canada, after the concert there was canceled because lead singer Axl Rose's plane was still hours away in California. A dozen people were arrested in the resulting melee, and damage to the General Motors Place arena was estimated at $100,000.

On Friday, before 6,000 fans at the Tacoma Dome here, it was back to the music as Rose led the new Guns lineup through a frequently spectacular display of the dynamics that made GNR such an exciting attraction a decade ago.

"You didn't think we'd be here, did you?" Rose joked early in the show. Though the band had to battle sound problems in the massive building, the musicians seemed as explosive at times as the accompanying pyrotechnics.

Encouraged by the strong crowd response, Rose was in such good spirits that he even strapped a mini-KFC bucket to his head late in the set, imitating the stage trademark of Bucket-head, the avant-garde guitarist who is a centerpiece of the new Guns cast.

The contrast between the Vancouver flare-up and the Tacoma dynamics was a reminder of the contradictions that Guns N' Roses represented at its peak.

From the moment Rose, a high school dropout from Indiana, stepped on stage at Hollywood clubs in the early '80s, he was labeled the new Jim Morrison -- a wild child whose tales of demons and desperation seemed a little too real just to be products of a fertile imagination.

In public, Rose frequently acted so impulsively in stressful moments that he seemed like someone who had been dropped into a hostile world and was fighting back with the clawing tenacity of a trapped alley cat.

This led to ugly incidents, such as the time in 1991 in St. Louis when he jumped into the crowd to grab a camera from a fan and then left the stage, spurring a rampage that resulted in injuries and $200,000 in damage. Rose acknowledged his inner turmoil and turned to therapy the same year.

What made Rose matter to millions of rock fans was that he could write about his tensions and the rock lifestyle with raw, unfiltered images. The signature song "Welcome to the Jungle" spoke about the decadence and glamour of the Hollywood music scene with a vividness that makes it the hard-rock equivalent of the Eagles' "Hotel California."

At the same time, Rose could express lost innocence with rare tenderness and vulnerability in such memorable songs as "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "November Rain." It was a magical combination, and his partners in GNR presented the music with a mix of bravado and self-affirmation.

But the band split apart after a 1993 tour and Rose set about putting together a new version of Guns N' Roses and working on a new album.

The only topic of conversation here Friday as popular as the Vancouver cancellation was what GNR was going to be like without guitarist Slash and the other original members. The new lineup has played a few dates over the last two years, and reviews have been generally positive.

But the real test is this ambitious U.S. tour, which includes stops at the San Diego Sports Arena on Dec. 27 and at the Forum in Inglewood on Jan. 3 and 4. Ultimately, Rose needs to convince us that he still has something to offer, and there were moments during Friday's concert when you were impatient for him to get on with that process.

Rather than rethink the old material and put the songs in new and revealing contexts, Rose seemed too content to merely take us back to the '80s.

While much of the material remains stirring, some of the tunes, including "Think About You" and "My Michelle," feel dated. There was also a distance at times between the musicians and the music. It was as if they felt straitjacketed having to step into another band's shoes.

The most touching moments came when Rose seemed the most introspective. When he sang Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" early in the set, there was a solemnity about him, as if he were thinking about all those who have passed away in his own life, both literally and figuratively. He was equally moving at the piano when he sang "November Rain."

In the few times he turned to new songs that presumably will be on the new album, which is due next year, Rose seemed consistently engaged, and the band responded well to stepping beyond the shadow of GNR. Where his singing on the high-energy tunes sometimes seemed unduly shrill, he exhibited added character and feeling on the newer numbers. As the tour proceeds, Rose should preview more new songs to show more of who he is today, personally and musically.

He also can't afford any more incidents like Vancouver.

Though common sense says it would have been smart to be in Vancouver early in the day, like the rest of the band, for the start of the tour, Rose's manager, Merck Mercuriadis, said backstage Friday that Rose prefers to arrive at the arena just before show time.

In this case, Rose's itinerary would have put him at the GM Place in time to go on at 10 p.m., as scheduled, but he was delayed in getting to the airport by traffic, the manager said. He added that the plane would have been in Vancouver in time for Rose to go on by 11 p.m., and that he tried to convince arena officials to let the show start late, with Rose covering overtime costs.

Instead, arena management canceled the show before fans got into the building, perhaps fearing an even greater reaction later if there were any other delays in Rose's arrival. The arena manager declined to discuss the cancellation Friday.

If the Vancouver blowup involved another artist, it might be dismissed as simply an isolated incident. But with Rose's history, it raised a red flag. As the tour proceeds across the country, he needs to understand that his conduct may be as important as his music in convincing the rock world that he again deserves its attention.

Guns N' Roses scorches small crowd
- Gene Stout, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

When the temperamental Rose failed to show up for the opening concert of the North American trek Thursday night in Vancouver, B.C., it appeared the tour was headed for a meltdown. Fans rioted outside GM Place when the show was abruptly canceled before show time. Rose's excuse that he had missed his flight to Vancouver seemed lame.

Canadian fans expected a lot more of the singer-guitarist, whose original band was an arena-rock powerhouse before grunge changed the rules of rock 'n' roll in the early '90s. Anticipation for the latest tour, the first worldwide trek since 1993, was fueled by a successful trek through Asia last summer and an all-new lineup featuring players from Nine Inch Nails, the Replacements and Primus.

A sinking feeling that the tour was in trouble was only reinforced by the poor turnout last night at the Tacoma Dome, where concertgoers barely filled half the arena.

TV reporters waiting to talk to fans stood on empty sidewalks outside the Dome. An outdoor radio tent that normally mobbed with fans before a show like this had only a dozen visitors when doors opened at about 6:45 p.m. A small queue of concertgoers stood in a light drizzle, waiting to get inside.v

The subdued atmosphere inside the Dome didn't bode well for a night of arena rock. But turnabouts are possible, and often dramatic. And fans can be very forgiving. Rose would get a big chance to redeem himself in Tacoma.

The concert began at 7:30 p.m. with opening act CKY, a Pennsylvania "nu-metal" band loud enough to put another crack in the Liberty Bell. The rock band played the new single, "Flesh Into Gear," from its new album, and spewed more expletives than a cussing contest at a biker bar. Give this band time to grow.

Mixmaster Mike was far more entertaining with his wacky videos, giant wind sculptures and classy looking turntable platform A veteran of the Beastie Boys and the Skratch Picklz turntablist crew, the DJ fused monster bass sounds with jazz, ambient music, hip-hop, electronic music and modern-rock and B-movie samples. It was very cool watching his fingers fly on the turntables; two large video screens captured the action in blurry closeup shots.

The crowd grew in size as Guns N' Roses set approached, but it was 9:45 p.m. when Rose and his crew finally took the stage. Concertgoers responded by cheering and hoisting their cigarette lighters in the air. After five minutes of darkness, the show finally flickered to life with five video screens, giant light panels, Chinese characters and several massive explosions. The multi-level stage provided Rose with plenty of ramps to scramble up and down.

Rose, wearing baggy pants, a football jersey and trademark bandana, tore into "Welcome to the Jungle," a GN'R classic and guaranteed crowd-pleaser, and the howling "It's So Easy." A volley of scorching pyrotechnics kicked off a powerful version of Paul McCartney's James Bond classic "Live and Let Die."

The show quickly brought memories of high-decibel '80s arena-rock extravaganzas featuring howling guitars, thundering drums and screeching vocals. A lot has changed in rock 'n' roll since Guns N' Roses was founded in the '80s -- and a lot has remained the same.

Rose, who looked a little heftier than he did in his heyday, slowed things down for "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," the band's high-powered version of the Dylan classic. The crowd came unglued, howling approval, waving arms and firing up lighters. A thundering version of "Sweet Child O' Mine" tuned the show into an old-school hard-rock celebration.

Rose's new band did a terrific job of recreating the classic GN'R sound. Guitars were handled by Richard Fortus, Robin Finck (of Nine Inch Nails) and Buckethead (a quirky, talented guitar slinger who wore a KFC bucket as a hat). Bassist Tommy Stinson (of the Replacements), keyboardists Dizzy Reed and Chris Pitman, and drummer Brian Mantia (of Primus) filled out the lineup. And Rose's voice sounded pretty good after all those years of neglect.

The lengthy show featured many of the group's favorite songs, among them "Mr. Brownstone," "Nightrain," "My Michelle," "Madagascar," "Rocket Queen" and the seasonally appropriate "November Rain," which Rose performed at the piano.

Concertgoers often sang along lustily to songs they hadn't heard live in years. The big show came to a big finish shortly before midnight with "Paradise City."

Guns N' Roses Get Back To Basics After Riotous Start
- Jose Martinez, CDnow.com

You didn't think we'd be here, did you?" singer Axl Rose asked fans during what turned out to be the first Guns N' Roses U.S. tour in nine years on Friday (Nov. 8) in Tacoma, Wash.

Holding true to the reckless, volatile attitude that propelled GNR into the most popular hard-rock band of the '80s, the revamped lineup was coming off a cancelled performance the night before in Vancouver, British Columbia that ignited a riot with an estimated $100,000 in damages.

As a matter of circumstance, the show at the cavernous Tacoma Dome became the first North American date of the Chinese Democracy Tour. Playing to an energetic audience, it was apparent that many on hand were anxiously awaiting the return of one of rock's most charismatic performers, while others, too young to have seen Guns in their heyday, wanted to see the mercurial singer for themselves.

After an energetic blitzkrieg by upstarts CKY , and a DJ set by the Beastie Boys' Mixmaster Mike that managed to ground the evening's excitement to a halt, the stage was set for the return of Axl Rose. Starting off with "Welcome to the Jungle" (immediately followed by "It's So Easy" and "Mr. Brownstone"), Rose and Company did not disappoint.

Gone are all original members, including fan favorite Slash, but GNR 2002 (featuring keyboardists Dizzy Reed and Chris Pitman, former Primus drummer Brian "Brain" Mantia, bassist Tommy Stinson, and guitarists Buckethead, ex-Nine Inch Nails Robin Fink, and Richard Fortus) has become a cohesive group apt to perform alongside one of rock's best frontmen. Sure it's easy to shine while playing the old hits, but the band really takes off when playing new songs from their upcoming album Chinese Democracy (rumored for a February release). During the inspired ballad "Madagascar" and the uproarious title track, as well as on "The Blues," it is obvious this is a contemporary band to be reckoned with.

A spirited performer with a propensity to speak a lot in between songs, Rose didn't say much this night. But it was apparent he was in a good mood during "Patience" when a fan tossed up two KFC side order containers, which the singer immediately put on his head in homage to the curious Buckethead. Rose laughed through most of the song beaming with a giant smile.

Although the show was far from a sellout (it was about half-full), it was curious watching Guns N' Roses play before a young, rabid crowd that at times just didn't' seem to get it -- too busy moshing to "Sweet Child o' Mine." But at the same time it was a refreshing welcome to the unscripted elements of rock that can prove dangerous, as they were in Vancouver, but also rewarding when it comes to seeing the power of rock first-hand.

Because people love to lump the "new generation" of rock bands such as the Hives, the Vines, the Strokes, and the White Stripes together, they should all be forewarned that the illusive and dangerous Axl Rose is back. And he's not concerned with wearing cute matching suits or sounding like everyone else. It seems for now, if Rose can finally finish Chinese Democracy and stay out of trouble, that the rock milieu may be looking up.

Kirk Thomas' Review

Okay, I've had some time to wake up and have some coffee. Since the reviews posted so far have pretty much covered the specifics, etc. I'll just post my personal observations and opinions of the show 11/8/02 in Tacoma, WA.

We timed it just right so we arrived at the Tacoma Dome about a half hour before GNR hit the stage, so I can't comment on the openig bands. My opening act was Miller Genuine Draft. In fact, they were thew closing act as well. Luckily, Jeff had called me from the show right as CKY was starting, so I had a pretty good idea how much time I had to party before we left (I didn't drive). Thanks for the head's-up, Jeff. Sorry I missed you at the show.

I must admit I was taken aback by the fact that only half of the Dome was being utilized. At the same time, I knew I'd have a killer view. And I did. Best. GA. Main. Floor. Tickets. Ever. (for me anyway)

I was surprised that they hit the stage before 10:00. I'm from the old school days when Axl started every show at midnight. This was refreshing. Axl was in a good mood and in very good vocal form, although - as Jeff mentioned - the sound sucked. The Tacoma Dome is definitively the WORST venue to hold any kind of musical event, hands-down. Great for boat shows, though. They just need to burn the place down. It really didn't matter all that much, however, because I ended up about 10-20 feet from the stage by the middle of the show. I was over on the left side of the stage, where Buckethead spent most of his time. Once you're standing in front of a bunch of huge speakers, it doesn't matter how bad the mix is; you're just rockin'.

Speaking of Buckethead. I've got to say, I'm a believer! As many people have stated before, there's just somethig about the guy. It doesn't translate well on TV; you have to see this dude. His solo was quite entertaining. I was somewhat prepared for it, but it still blew me away. I gained a new respect for the guy. If I didn't know better I'd swear he's the lovechild of Steve Vai and Randy Rhoads. I'm definitely going to pick up one of his solo albums. But I must go on record as saying I'd probably dig him just as much if he lost the bucket. Keep the mask, just lose the bucket. Baby steps. Other than that it's "all good", as they say.

I can't say the same for Finke or Pittman. To me, Robin Finke is a dime-a-dozen guitarist, who's relying far to heavily upon a gimmick that - to me - is so utterly passe I just have to laugh out loud. I will give him this: He did a great job on SCOM and Nov. Rain. But I'd be lying if I said I'd rather see him there than Slash. I really think Slash would fit in very well with this line-up. It's really a shame. Robin holds his own, I guess. I still don't know what - exactly - Chris Pittman does, other than flail around like a Flock of Seagulls reject on mescaline. Sorry, but I just don't get what it is that he brings to the table.

Funny story: I was in the bathroom and overheard these two kids (well, probably 20-23 yrs old) talking. It went something like this "Man, this shit rocks dude!! My sister saw these guys when they toured with Metallica!! Back in, like, '89!! Could you imagine that?" I just shook my head, and felt very old. Rookies. (psst! it was '92)

Anyway, back to my unsolicited opinion of the bandmembers. Dizzy was great. He was Dizzy. Gotta love him! I also really dug Fortus. The guy has stage presence, and chops to boot. I think he played the solo on Rocket Queen, but I might be mistaken. Did I mention I was pretty loaded? I brought a pen and paper with me, but lost the pen before we got into the show. I was in rare form. Losin' pens (and later, my hat). Crazy! So, Fortus gets my stamp of approval. Welcome aboard!

Stinson was his usual charming, happy go-lucky self. It's so nice to see a guy like him get a gig like this. I've seen some of the dumps he's played on his way to the top, and he deserves every ounce of the success he has. Maybe I'm a bit biased, though. ;]

Brain did an acceptable job on the drums. He's no Neil Peart, but for the setlist they played that wasn't a factor. I'm sure he's much more versitile than he's allowed to let on, so I'll give him the okay as well. I'm anxious to hear his studio GNR stuff.

And then there was Axl. As I mentioned, Axl was in good vocal form and a complete professional. He was smiling all night. The only error I noticed was during Rocket Queen. He started with the verse "I've seen everything imaginable pass before these eyes". Then he kind of looked up, like "oh shit!", and then continued that verse. Then he threw in the first verse "If I say I don't need anything..." where the 2nd verse usually goes. I don't even think many people noticed. It was actually pretty cool. And he even had a teleprompter!! Y'know, when you hit 40 those eyes just ain't what they used to be. :-D

Also, when Axl was wearing the mini buckets on his face (the 2 below his chin), he said something like (and correct me if I'm wrong) "hey, look, I'm Dickhead!". That got a rise out of Tommy, who literally looked like he was gonna fall over laughing. Then, just before Nightrain, Axl asked "Should we blow the horn?... You wanna blow the horn?... Okay, let's blow the horn!". And so they did. :) It's nice to see the rapport these guys have. Hopefully it will carry through to the end of the tour and beyond (although if Axl wants to can Finke I'm okay with it. Fortus is more than capable).

My only complaint other than Finke and Pittman was the lack of UYI material. There's so much gold on those albums, is a shame to let it sit and collect dust. "Coma" would have been perfect: "Hey you caught me in Tacoma..." :-D

So, that's about it for my little critique of the show. Please remember, these are merely my personal opinions of the new band. Please don't lose any sleep over it. I can tell you that anybody who goes to see this band will NOT be disappointed. Don't let the VMA's fool you. I really feel sorry for the folks in Vancouver, but this actually worked out kind of cool for me. Now, not only have I attended the kickoff to the UYI tour back in '91 at the ever-so-overly-mentioned Alpine Valley show, but I've also got the kickoff to the 2002-2003 tour under my belt. Makes me feel special, and every little bit helps. ;]

Oh, and I picked up a $35 t-shirt. It has the 5 pointed chinese throwing star on the front, with the new chinese G&R logo, and below the logo it says "guns n' roses". On the back is a list of the tour dates (including the doomed Vancouver gig) with 5 smoking bullet holes painted on it (the shirt, that is. Not the Vancouver date). It says "guns n' roses"across the top and "chinese democracy world tour 2002 * 2003" on the bottom. It's a cool shirt, but $35 just makes me cringe. Oh, well, it's GNR.

Got your tickets NOW!!