Days of Guns N' Roses are over
- Michael Deeds, The Idaho Statesman
Welcome to the jumble.
If there was ever any doubt that the return of Guns N’ Roses would be an epic mess, singer Axl Rose has all but erased it just three dates into the group’s North American tour.
Check that: Two dates. Rose, the group’s lone original member, didn’t bother showing up for the tour debut in Vancouver, B.C., last week, transforming it into a bloody, mace-spraying clash between angry fans and local police. (Rose’s record label blamed flight problems for the cancellation; Rose blamed venue management.) G N’ R performed in Tacoma, Wash., last Friday, but even then, vocal problems hampered the evening.
That made show No. 2 at the half-empty Idaho Center all the more depressing for expectant G N’ R fans. The night dragged on for nearly four-and-a-half hours and served as a soporific warning to the rest of the hopeful hard-rock world: Guns N’ Roses is not back. All that’s really back is Rose’s oversized rock-star ego, which easily dwarfed his ragged, barely audible voice.
Nothing about this concert made much sense. Two opening acts - rock band CKY and turntable whiz Mixmaster Mike - had been added to the bill, presumably to provide Rose ample time to arrive. If it wasn’t disturbing enough that a DJ was opening for Guns N’ Roses (what has the world come to?), fans suffered through well over an hour of dead time afterward while Rose lounged backstage. Chants of “Axl, Axl!” fermented into a bitter chorus of boos as fans realized that, yes, Rose is a tardy jerk, and, wow, those bright house lights were illuminating an embarrassingly sparse crowd.
Of course, all was forgiven when Guns N’ Roses exploded onto the bi-level stage in an avalanche of pyrotechnics and flash - at 10:20 p.m. But if the excited fans were looking for a time warp back to 1987, well, it wasn’t happening. Guns N’ Roses, once a lethal hard-rock machine that transcended the sum of its few parts, has become a convoluted, eight-member circus.
Guitarist Slash, whom Rose refuses to welcome back to the fold, has been replaced by not one, not two, but three men. (Slash must be one helluva player, eh?) Rose also employs two keyboardists, including longtime member Dizzy Reed, who moonlighted on congas during “Welcome to the Jungle.” (Yes, congas on “Welcome to the Jungle.” Repeat: Exactly what has the world come to?)
Of course, none of this mattered, because Rose’s singing could be heard only intermittently. He strained to project his voice over the band’s boomy barrage, which included a sluggish “Out Ta Get Me,” a blues-free “My Michelle” and a gut-rattling “Nightrain.” Even when Rose sat at the piano for the grandiose “November Rain” or the ballad “Patience,” his vocals lost the battle.
Dressed in three different oversized sports jerseys (including one from the Idaho Steelheads), Rose worked to atone for the problems, scurrying across the stage, his arms outstretched like a hysterical blind woman's. He often stopped to sing on the sides of the platform, inches away from teleprompters that rolled lyrics.
Some of the 4,400 fans sneaked away early. Others just chugged more beer and rawked on.
G N’ R offered just three tunes from the supposedly forthcoming “Chinese Democracy” album. Instead, Guns N’ Roses rolled through classics such as “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “Live and Let Die” and “It’s So Easy.” But the songs were methodical. Despite G N’ R’s talented new cast, it came across as a disparate, motley crew that’s incapable of reviving G N’ R’s soul. The sleaze-blues of Guns N’ Roses has metamorphosed into a mechanical-rock onslaught.
Of the guitar trio, goth-fashion slave Robin Finck of Nine Inch Nails fame conjured up the most heartfelt solos. Session man Richard Fortus wielded his ax with a raucous freedom reminiscent of G N’ R’s glory days.
Then there was the eerie Buckethead, who looks like the missing member of Insane Clown Posse. Wearing a Michael Myers-like white mask on his face and a KFC bucket on his head, Buckethead spewed shredding guitar riffs, did a ghoulish robot dance - and gave a bizarre, between-song nunchucks exhibition. But his hyped guitar playing was like the fast-food franchise advertised on his dome: Efficient, speedy and lacking any personal touch.
G N’ R occasionally found a modest dose of energy lurking in its biggest hits. During the encore, the audience even sang along with “Paradise City,” augmented by more deafening explosions and a nifty confetti shower.
But by this time, Rose wasn’t fooling anyone: Nampa was not “Paradise City.” When he rushed to the microphone to unleash the song’s trademark opening whistle blow ... surprise, fans couldn’t hear it. Probably just as well. In the case of this tour, Guns N’ Roses isn’t signaling the start of anything worth listening to.
Ok, just got back from the Boise show. Here's a summary. Pardon the grammar, I'm very tired and forcing myself to write this. Anything I got wrong is not intentional, its the best from my memory:
Axl Rose - Initially dressed in a black 81 T. Brown Raider's jersey. Black bandana. Black Adidas sweat pants, with white Adidas (I think) shoes, later changed into red 27 Idaho Steelheads hockey jersey with "Rose" on the back, wore a red bandana. Ended the concert with a white Jerry Rice Raiders jersey, number 80, no bandana. His hair was weaved with bright red and blond streaks. Braided. Looked very cool.
Robin Finck - White silk jumpsuit, WWII army issue helmet (during Nightrain I think), sunburst Les Paul, black Les Paul.
Buckethead - Baggy khaki pants, navy blue peacoat, black cape, funeral KFC bucket, no mask...haha, just kidding, Flying V KFC guitar, white Les Paul, hollow-body acoustic.
Tommy Stinson - Plaid pants with a white tee and a plaid long sleeved jacket.
Richard Fortus - Solid green camo style khakis. White Tee. Faded Les Paul.
Brain - White hat worn backwards. I couldnt make out a lot of his outfit, but man this guy gets better and better every time I see him. He is phenomenal.
Dizzy Reed - Star-logo tank (couldn't see the rest, was on other side of the stage). Did a great job on The Blues especially.
Chris Pitman - White tee beneath what appeared to be a work suit (like mechanics wear), but as I looked at it more I thought it might be more like a sweat suit. Sleeves pushed up to his elbows. 5 Keybords (1 tri-tiered, 2 independant) on spring stands which allowed the keys to be yanked horizontally (sweet setup). He moved around a lot.
Stage/Lighting/Video/Pyro - Black with tiered wings on both right and left side of the stage, Giant gold banners with Chinese characters covered as the backdrop, lighting was in a half moon arch, peaking about 20-30 feet off the ground. A nice wall of sound speaker setup with display screens above the crowds on the right and left sides of the stage, vertical-rectangular big screens in the center-rear and on both sides of the stage. The rectangle displays pieced together to make a big screen for showing a giant image or separately to show "slivers" of images. They showed a lot of funk 70's images, a lot of title pages to old 70's movies, Foxy Brown, etc. During Madagascar they showed a lot of pyrotechnics, especially during Live And Let Die and Paradise City. There was four or five pyro "wheels" dropping sparks and shooting them up into the rafters (surprised something didn't burn...flesh, wires, hair, etc. They also had a pyro line above the front of the stage that stretched from one side of the stage to the other, dropping a curtain of fire showers. There were giant flame and sound-cannons on both sides of the stage toward the rear, and another two on the ceiling of the stage...heated up the crowd quite a bit. They used the flames a lot during Chinese Democracy.
Welcome To The Jungle
It's So Easy
Axl Speech to the Faithful
Live And Let Die
Think About You
Axl Speech to the Stupid
You Could Be Mine
Sweet Child O' Mine
Knockin' On Heaven's Door
Out Ta Get Me
Dark Creeping Pounding Slow Piano Solo (thats funny to read, but it's true, lol. It moved me. Primo.)
Rocket Queen Funk Jam
Buckethead Nun Chuka Kata
Buckethead Alien-Robot Dance
Buckethead - Giant Robot Theme/Shredding As Fast As The Legs Of An Asylum Escapee (me )/Big Sur Moon/Star Wars/Hog Bitch Stomp
Finck Pouring Out His Fucking Soul Solo
Paradise City (fire, confetti, etc.)
Band hit the stage about 10:30. Most people in the crowd were mumbling that he didn't show, some people just didn't "get" it and left, rumors abound.
Band stormed on with Welcome To The Jungle and instantly the crowd went wild. Axl shocked a lot of the doubters because he was on the money, into it, he looked lean and fuckin' mean decked in black with an aura of confidence to match. He was vibrant and ran a lot. He took any doubts anyone had at that moment and squashed them beneath his feet. The band was so tight and everyone had such a look of confidence that it almost teasingly made a mockery out of the ex-musicians (Im sure it wasn't intentional).
After It's So Easy, Axl speaks to the crowd. He smiles. He says something like, "Despite the rumors, it looks like you still showed up". Smiles again. Classic. The crowd was thinking the same thing about Axl as he said this. It was ironic.
Madagascar - Incredible. Crowd dug it. The Martin Luther King clips were still very moving to watch as the music carried King's voice.
Prior to Brain's intro into You Could Be Mine Axl introduces the band. Midway through, someone in crowd yells something about Sl*sh . Axl says, "Uh uh uh uh...now that wasn't very nice was it?" His voice mimics as if he were talking to a little child (perfect for the situation) and he says, "If you are not having fun, you can go the fuck home" (crowd is a bit shocked, why I have no idea) "and if you want to see the OLD band you can go the fuck home and watch your OLD video tapes and DVD's and listen to your OLD CD's...if it's the OLD band that you want"... (he pauses as if thinking).... (impeccable timing)...."And it would be a shame if these nice people all around you kicked your fucking ass." It was the best. The crowd laughed their asses off and screamed to the top of their lungs. Axl regained his cheerful mood and moved on. It was the epitome of class.
Don't recall in what song this occurred, but Finck pulled Fortus out of Finck's spot by his guitar cord (jokingly of course), dragging him back to Fortus' side fo the stage (psuedo-center). They laughed and then jammed together. The whole band seemed closer to each other than in the past. This is a good thing. I am so attached to this new line-up.
Sweet Child O' Mine - Axl was really into it, screaming hard. Fortus played the first solo, followed by Finck, Buckethead may have jumped in soloing at the end. I just remember it struck me when Fortus soloed it.
Axl asked for a piano. He said something like give me a piano, kabato, etc., using about 10 different terms for piano I guess, I'm not quatralingual. The Intro to November Rain was very cool. It was very dark and slow, using minor keys. Classical influenced. Axl pounded the keys heavy but painfully slow. It was moving in eerie-soulish type of way. I loved it.
Axl requests some funk saying, "Give me that funk intro thing" and they break into Rocket Queen. The groove was very funky and tight. They moved and sounded very natural, grooving to this. They showed a lot of old 70's funk clips with 70's movie add scenes, "Swinging Wives", some brief porn-ish scenes, a girl swimming underwater through the end climax. Fortus kicked this song's ass, literally. His slide was impressive.
Buckethead stole the crowd before he ever picked up the guitar. His nun chuka kata drew a big applause. His robot dance is so intriguing, seemed to draw the younger crowd in. He set the mood with Giant Robot Theme and moved into Big Sur Moon. The crowd went will on Star Wars and jaws dropped on Hog Bitch Stomp. All the pro- Sl*sh fans either bowed their heads or became converted at that moment. Afterwards, he threw toys into the crowd, as well as his guitar strap. He had the toys in bags passing them out like fucking Santa Clause. It was cool.
Axl introduces Chinese Democracy. Lots of video and flames. The vibe was untouchable comparative to the older tunes. This song owned the concert imo.
During My Michelle, Axl came out in an Idaho Steelheads jersey, number 27, with "Rose" on the back. Thought that was interesting.
The Blues was great. The crowd, who had never heard this song, fell in love with it.
On Patience, Buckethead played acoustic with Fortus, Finck handled the electric. It sounded smooth.
Nightrain blew my mind out of the older tunes, Buckethead's solo cannot be touched. In fact, it sounded like a chromatic train under great momentum.
Michael Barton's Review
Here is my review for the show on November 11, 2002. Sorry its a little late. Had to bet back home.
The show kicked some serious ass right off the bat. I got shit faced in my car in the parking lot. Went in the place, purchased a tour shit and 2 bandanas, then took a piss. After my penis was done, I got 3 more beers. Went to my seats. Found these 2 jackass old people in my seats, kicked them out, and drank my mother fucking beer. MixMasterMike came on and blew everyone away. He is a damn good DJ. Mike was done, little intermission for the boys to come on stage.
As soon as Axl came out, we all bum rushed the stage and I was 3 people back. Had some old dude with another fatter old dude, but not as grandpa looking as the other, right next to me. I was with my ex and I had to protect her in the pit. Other dumb ass bitches were saying "calm down" to some other guys there just because they can't hang. I told the guys, fuck those bitches, its Guns N' Roses. So the guys got rowdy again. I just think it gay, you're in a pit okay, with shit loads of big people. You're going to get bumbed around. If you can't take it, get the fuck out. The pits for people that can hang.
Anyway, the show kicked ass. Axl did good. Sounded good. Buckethead is a better player then Slash. Robin Finck was trying to get blow jobs the whole time. There was a guy playing guitar but I don't know who he was.
Anyhow, Axl looked like he had some fun. He actually communicated with the crowd, unlike most rock bands. He moved around as well as he could in his old age.
Slash, Duff, Izzy who? Yeah thats what I thought. They can go fuck themselves because the new band plays their old shit just as good as they can.
I give Axl Rose and his band an A+