Guns N' Roses right on target
- John Soeder, Cleveland Plain Dealer Pop Music Critic
Any doubt as to whether Axl Rose and his revamped Guns N' Roses could still deliver the hard-rocking goods Sunday night at Gund Arena was erased by their fourth number, an incendiary cover of Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die."
Rose's alley-cat croon was riveting as ever - and he hasn't lost his unique gift for stretching monosyllabic lyrics to the breaking point, either. But if this ever-changing world in which we live in makes you give in and cry-y-y-y-y / Say "Live and let die!" he sang.
It hasn't exactly been smooth sailing for GN'R as the group makes the rounds on its first major tour in nearly a decade.
A riot ensued earlier this month when the opening-night concert in Vancouver, British Columbia, was canceled at the last minute because Rose was running behind schedule. Subsequent gigs have been plagued by late starts, technical difficulties and poor turnouts.
Fewer than 10,000 people caught GN'R in a half-full Gund Arena. But at least the band had its act together.
Following a mediocre set of headbanging fare by opening act CKY and a fun interlude of turntable tricks by DJ Mixmaster Mike (who put his own spin - literally - on everything from Metallica to Missy Elliott), GN'R announced its arrival at the relatively reasonable hour of 10 p.m. with a raucous "Welcome to the Jungle."
Rose took the stage sporting dreadlocks and an Ohio State University football jersey. He later donned Browns and Indians jerseys. The 40-year-old frontman has put on a few pounds, although he got a good workout in concert, running from side to side and occasionally breaking into one of his trademark serpentine dances.
Ex-guitarist Slash and the band's other estranged members were barely missed as Rose and his new sidekicks (the only other holdover from the group's pre-grunge heyday is Dizzy Reed, who now shares keyboard duties with Chris Pitman) did justice to "Patience," the immortal "Sweet Child o' Mine" and other vintage GN'R tunes.
Brian "Brain" Mantia (formerly of Primus) and Tommy Stinson (Replacements) provided an airtight rhythm section. Even more impressive were the three new guitarists. Buckethead (he of the KFC crown) and Robin Finck (Nine Inch Nails) speed-dialed frenetic solos throughout the performance. Richard Fortus (Psychedelic Furs) had his chance to shine during "Rocket Queen."
Rose accompanied himself on piano for "November Rain," a bittersweet power ballad greeted by a sea of flickering cigarette lighters. Other songs, including a triumphant encore of "Paradise City," were embellished with all sorts of indoor fireworks. Signs taped to the two-tiered stage warned: NO SMOKING - PYRO ZONE.
Rounding out the two-hour show were three tantalizing selections from the upcoming album "Chinese Democracy" (due in stores next year), including the epic Led Zeppelin-style ballad "Madagascar." Clearly, the bloom isn't off Guns N' Roses yet.
schnoogans 37's Review
Well I just got back from the 4 hour drive back from Cleveland....it's almost 5AM, I should be sleeping, but I know you people want to know all about the show so I'll do my best to fill in....some may overlap the other review...
It all started when I found 8th row tickets (floor) for 35 bucks last minute yesterday on ebay. I figured I had to go for that price and that good of a seat so I bought the ticket, had to meet the broker at a bar near the Gund Arena (The Winking Lizard---nice bar) to pick them up. Got there around 7:30, got my tickets, and started heading to the arena....
As I'm walking I pass a bar playing 'Sweet Child O' Mine'....so naturally I had to go in and check it out....next song up came 'Dead Horse', turns out the bar was like playing Appetite, Lies, and the Illusions on Random, people were going apeshit with each new song that came on....very cool.
Finally get over to the arena, missed CKY (Oh no!), asked if they got booed again and was told they werent and were actually really well recieved....hmm.
Mix Master Mike came on....I dont care, I like the guy....DJing shit isnt for everyone, but I thought it was a fun way to fill time before GNR. Crowd wasnt exactly going nuts, but they sure werent booing either. Really nice crowd, nice atmosphere, which I think carried over to GNR and Axl.....because Id never seen Axl in a better mood than he was tonight....anyways crowd gives the Mix Master decent applause, no boos whatsoever, pretty cool.
GNR came on about 10:10, pretty early for Axl. They used that new intro, which listening to it for the second time I can finally tell what it is....it's the sound of an orchestra warming up, like at the beginning of the Fantasia movies.....just a mess of orchestral instruments warming up for a show....pretty cool.
Axl wore a 27 Browns jersey? changed to a 2 Browns Jersey? Then a Cleveland Indians Jersey. If you wanted to see Axl in a talkative mood I hope you were in Cleveland tonight. He could barely shut his mouth. His attitude the whole night was like a kid on christmas. He was just having way too much fun from the get-go and was ULTRA- personable.
He asked the crowd if he'd worn the right Jersey...then started doing a voice "I just dont get Axl, what is he trying to be? Hip hop with those Jerseys", talked about how he just liked to wear jerseys, lay off.
Then came him talking to a guy in the front row. In between songs he came out smiling and was like "Wait a minute. I have to ask this guy whats wrong. You look bummed. Are you not having a good time? I want you to get your moneys worth." Sits down to chat with the guy. Finds out his name is Steve. "Hey everyone, this is Steve." Steve says hes having a great time, so Axl concludes that steve just has problems with expressing him emotions and it's all good. This was hilarious. Very representative of the mood Axl was in.
When Axl introduced Richard, he told a story. He said that following Richard's first audition with the band he flew back home and at the airport someone ran up to him and said "Hey Izzy, can I get your autograph?" Axl said he took it as a good omen and signed him on.
As Axl sat down to play November Rain he quickly launched into another song.....that wasnt one of the normal intros, then he leaned forward to sing....for a split second I thought it was a new song....then he sang "Youuuu....are suchhhh...an asssshole, Nooone knows how much of an assssholllle you arrrrre" Then he looked up and said "Oops wrong song" and started the funny double-time intro....just some fun playing around from Axl.
Axl talked about "I bet when I was a kid, singing in church choir, this was not quit what they expected me to end up doing...." Then he even launched into singing a little bit of "Jesus lovvves the litttle children...."
In between two songs Axl just started breathing heavy into the mic doing a 'toking a joint' sound. Then he was like "I smell something out there.....and I don't think it's cigarrettes....I think this is what you call a contact high"
He thanked the crowd for being 'gamblers' by coming out to see the band. He said everyone in the crowd was a bit of a gambler. Then he talked about watching CNN and the Vancouver Riot footage.....he said he saw a woman babbling about ....(doing woman voice) "Oh my goodness it was horrible it was just like a movie...." "And then the voiceover comes over" (he does a really funny deep, professional voiceoever voice) "But this..........was NO movie." It was pretty funny, especially since Axl seemed to just be enjoying himself so much telling all these stories....
Just before Chinese Democracy, Axl told the crowd that he could "very much feel the love here". And it was obvious he could too, he treated the crowd all night long like a bunch of old friends. He was very happy when he said this and it looked like he really meant it.
Axl talked about how the production engineer or something like that for the band was from Cleveland....so "If the show sucks, I'm not taking all the blame, It's partly Clevelands fault".
Before Bucketheads dance and solo, He told the 'buckethead story', about Bucket being brought by aliens and raised in a coup and that he needed to do a little artistic expression about all that for us...
At the very end of the night, in between Robins final solo and Paradise City, He stopped things and took a moment to once again thank the crowd.....then said "Thank you.........this is Paradise City", to which the crowd went apeshit.
Overall, just an amazingly fun show. I ended up being only 4 rows from the stage because of the way the stage was set up....so that was very cool. A couple things of note.....Richard played the first solo's on November Rain instead of Robin, then Buckethead played the last one as usual......and Axl's one lyrical fuck up of the night was on "My Michelle"......he started the song with "Sowin' all your wild oats" but quickly realized his mistake and morphed into the first verse by the second line.....at the time I was like "Oh no, please, not another Detroit", but it was a quick recover and Axl quickly forgot about it.
Just another nice personal moment, the girls I was sitting next to screamed to Richard who was sitting on the front of the stage playing Patience and he stopped playing to look up and wave, he seemed kind of surprised to hear his name get yelled. That was cool.
Setlist was the usual suspects....no Rhiad, but they did My Michelle, Nightrain, And paradise City, so I was very very happy. Arena was about 60% full I'd say, but the people who were there were cool as fuck. Axl's voice was great, but a bit cleaner than in Detroit, I thought he sounded a touch better and more gravely in Detroit. Also he ran much faster and more often at this show than in Detroit....so maybe that has something to do with it. He sounded great though, just a little more like he did in Tacoma.
I cant think of anything more, I'm tired....Oh except that when I stopped at Burger King on the way home, there was one other guy in the store besides me, I walked in behind him and he walked up to the counter and said "ya'll got tacos?"......at Burger King........maybe it's just late and Im a little delirious, but I found that hilarious.
Guess I'll wrap this one up....Hope you all enjoy it. Once again, Great show, and Axl in one of the best moods I've ever seen....cant wait to see them next week.....this has helped me put the whole nasty detroit ending out of my mind.
M. Jason Smiley's Review
well, only a 2 hour drive tonight so that wasn't bad. i actually had a floor seat (center stage but like 17th row), instead i bought a second "cheap" seat so i could try another recording ;-) this time i got in a little earlier and caught most of mix master mike's set. tonights crowd was more into him - no booing tonight. the crowd was bigger - floor seats were filled, lower bowl filled, and about 1/3 of the upper bowl was full. definatly saw some bucketheads tonight. i was also surprised - it was a young crowd tonight. i felt like one of the old people! no older people - just my group and a ton of young kids. axl must have gotten some rest yesterday - because they actually went on stage around 9:45 tonight!
setlist was the normal one, a few songs switched around. my michelle was played tonight, and axl finally blew the train wistle for nightrain! i don't know what axl was saying about the fan - but his name was steve and he was front row. axl sat up on the front of the stage and talked to him for about 30 seconds... about the most i could get out of it was the guys name was steve.
welcome to the jungle
it's so easy
live and let die
knockin on heavens door
think about you
you could be mine
axl talk to fan
sweet child o mine
out ta get me
axl piano, november rain
the sound was a little screwy tonight - i think it was the mix. they had axl's mic ok. but the drums were loud - or that could be due to the fact that they had all the guitars turned way down. at the pittsburgh show i could hear all 3 guitars... but tonight you couldn't hear any - except for when a solo was going on. that and the bigger crowd, i'm sure my tape isn't going to be great quality. axl fucked up the lyrics to at least 2 songs that i remember. i was also disappointed with finck again tonight. maybe i was expecting too much out of this guy - but he fucked up a couple times again tonight. his solo's on the old songs suck, he screwed up nov rain solo again tonight. i like his little solo before going into SCOM. he gets his solo chance before paradise city every night... which is ok. but during the regular songs... i think he sucks. i play guitar and after tonight i'm feeling that my sucky-ass could get up there and play those guns songs as well as he is...
the guys were in normal attire. axl came out with an ohio state buckeye's football jersey, then cleveland browns football jersey, then a cleveland indians baseball jersey. i didn't see any names on them tonight. i think the browns jersey was #2 (i think).
just got home from the cleveland show...
I missed CKY intentionally, I had better things to do.
Mix Master Mike - was cool for the first few minutes then just got annoying.
highlight of the "pre-show" was chicks flashing the cameramen and lots of Weezer songs over the PA.
"Guns N Roses" - Axl showed up! he came out with a cigar in his mouth. pretty much same set as other shows. Axl talks about the jerseys he wears, something about hoping the press doesnt think he's getting pissed off, mentions that after Richard Fortus flew back after his initial audition, someone in the airport stopped him and asked "Can i get your autograph Izzy?" Axl said that must've been a good sign...
The band - these guys are pretty cool. I like their presence, all of them. Buckethead was pretty entertaining.
Overall Impressions - It was nice to finally get to see Axl live. Unfortunately it wasnt with Guns N Roses, but with his Solo Project. I'm not saying they weren't good. The band was great. But it's not really GNR. Maybe that's why Axl's been taking heat from the press? Axl vocals were pretty good. A few mishaps with lyrics, otherwise they were good.
At some points, the crows seemed a bit dull. like a lot of people on the floor seemed to be just standing around watching and not moving in rhythm...
I have to say, I didnt get that emotional rush that I thought I would when the first few notes of Jungle were played. Axl's band was really cool and I'm glad I got to see it live! But I dont think I'd go to more than one show on a single leg of the tour. I originally bought tix to philly too, but recently sold them to a friend (better things came up for me...).
Very skeptical going in.
I have the Rio video and I was pleased with everything I saw. The MTV thing was not really that bad for me. The more I watched it the more I got it. Madagascar on MTV was just awesome. Anyway....the three individuals (wife, friend and his wife) I brought with me on our 2hr hike are not fans. They like Guns and the girls think Axl is hot. But there are a lot of rumors out there that Axl has lost it and Guns are not Guns without Slash. Last but not least........I'm a big original members fan......Slash is just as big as Axl to me and I love Izzy.
Well here we go! Got to Gund around 5:30 and went to Cooperstown bar for drink and dinner. They were playing the tokyo concert video on all the screens in the bar. Most all the bars along the way were blasting Guns material through the speakers. After I had two long island ice teas we all headed to the arena. Got there around the close of CKY. Bought my wife here first Guns shirt while my friends wife got here first. I saw this dude walking around with this gigantic Slash Hat and wig........had to give him a high five and hell ya! Slash is a God! He is everything a rock guitar player should be. Axl will never replace Slash. So after seeing Mr. Slash we went to our seats (section 2 Row U). Great seat! I had told Colma I might see him at cooperstown for the first time. But I had missed him there. I knew where he was sitting, so I went up to say hi. Talk about great seats. I was jealous. Front row!
MMM came out and we were all impressed. Scott (my freind) said Guns was going to have a hard time topping that. Again skeptical. By this time the wifes are getting more drunk and my wife is getting horny. Nothing like a little drink to set her off. And she was looking hot. After MMM we got up to take a break. Security was cool there. Not any problems getting back and forth. First floor seat concert with chairs and I would highly recommend it.
The girls at this concert were hot. Lots of girls. I bet the whole arena was filled with about 30-40% female. Not bad for a Hard Rock concert. Plus they were mostly hot and young. Axl has a great start here. I hate concerts that are all male and the girls make you want to dive in a hole. This was all a set up for a great titty show! To the wife, I was like "baby we need to get back in the arena and watch the girls" and she said "honey what ever you want" with a lick of the ear. I have a cool wife. And she is just as hot as all of these young girls. Sexy is 29 and she gets labeled 19 all the time. So we get back, and as we are walking down the aisle I get a face full of breasts right in front of me. I pull the little wife so she can witness the excess. She just laughs and pulls me forward. This went on.........not long enough.
Guns came on very promptly tonight. Axl was in great mood. And WOW! Did they Rock. By the time they played Live and Let Die my friend pulls my arm and me across his wife and says "who ever said Axl has lost it is nuts" and then he said "I just became a new Guns n' Roses fan". My wife was going nuts and so was his. It was going to be a great (lucky) night. Axl was on tonight. His voice is great , almost earth shaking. I think he almost blew my eardrums out. WOW can this guy scream. The rest of the band was tight. and the special effects were great. The new songs are so good live it is almost unbelievable. I can not imagine how good the studio versions are. And Axl says these are not his best. Axl is the coolest. "Never reveal yourself until you are hard", now who said that old schoolers. Wow this band rocked tonight. Buckethead had everyone bowing after his solo. This guy almost seems unreal. I remember Ozzy said the same thing in a interview about his first experience with Jimi Hendrix.
Axl and the new Guns blew everyone out of the arena tonight. Fans were coming out the arena going "Oh My God". And as I'm taking a piss people were going "Axl is God".
Wifes reaction: "Oh my God! That was the best concert I have ever seen"
Friends reaction: "Axl has not lost anything and if anything he has gotten better with age"
Friends wifes reaction: "I want to have Axl's baby" Ouch! My poor friend!
My reaction: Well just as I'm a old schooler and I have seen Guns 3 times before this 9 year wait. This is the best performance I have witnessed. Slash is still God. And Izzy is still the prince. But Stop the Press! This version of Guns is so fresh. The hint at the new material is mind blowing live. I bow down to you Axl and believe in the New Guns n' Roses. A old school fan has crossed the line to follow and i will put the original members with the Greek Gods on the mountain.
Another note: The Arena had around 10,000 people in it. Most all arenas are 50% full when the lower section is full and the floor is sold out. this is the case tonight. On top of that the Club section was half full and people were scattered around in the upper section. Gund has the capacity of around 20,000 people. I had called twice prior to the concert and the lady on the phone had said that they had better than half full at the time and they were very pleased. She was right. I'm estimating around 60-65% capacity crowd tonight.
In closing I will say that this concert has just topped my favorite of all time. That is it has topped the Metallica concert in the Pontica silverdome of 1992.