Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH
November 25th 2002

- Aaron Beck, Columbus Dispatch

Fewer than 6,000 people visited Nationwide Arena on Monday night to see the 2002 version of Guns N' Roses, which includes one original member: Axl Rose.

Once the lights went down, however, the underattended show could have been taking place in a filled Brazilian soccer stadium.

A production that probably made the Columbus power grid dim, a batch of oldies (the band played the bulk of Appetite for Destruction) and the anticipation by a crowd that had waited more than a decade -- and more than an hour between Mixmaster Mike and the time Guns N' Roses took the stage -- all fueled the buzzing mood.

Welcome to the Jungle, a natural opener, was flat. The volume was uncharacteristically low for an arena-rock show. Rose's voice sounded wrecked. The mix was muddy.

But starting with song two, It's So Easy, the six-man band didn't let up until two hours later (12:10 a.m.) with the encore, Paradise City.

When he wasn't playing Elton John at a black grand piano (November Rain), Rose ran the sprawling stage all night. His screeching voice was strong throughout.

Rose, a 40-year-old Hoosier, was dressed in baggy tracks pants, white athletic shoes -- as blinding as his severely bleached teeth -- and a series of oversize Buckeyes and Blue Jackets jerseys. His shoulder-length braids and un-rocklike gold rings on his fingers fit in perfectly with today's Guns N' Roses, a group of eccentrics.

Guitarist Slash used to be a fan favorite, but if mascots are what people crave, they don't have to look any further than one of the three guitarists.

The man with an upside-down KFC bucket on his head and a white, expressionless mask on his face, Buckethead, plays guitar a la the Eddie Van Halen school of inventive, classical metal. His solo consisted of demonstrating nunchakus and break dancing, playing pieces of the Star Wars theme and Old MacDonald and tossing action figures into the crowd. Basically, he screwed around for a few minutes.

His intricate picking suggested that soloing during Sweet Child o' Mine (a show highlight) does not worry him. Frank Zappa would have loved it.

Rose seemed to get a kick out of the guy and the rest of the band, which also includes occasional Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck, 'N Sync session guitarist Richard Fortus, former Primus drummer Brain, former Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson and keyboardists Dizzy Reed and Chris Pittman. The new lineup sounds tight, and watching them play made one realize: This ain't no state fair version throwing something together to pay the rent.

The band played three new songs. Two were sprawling power-ballad types on par with November Rain. There was no sign of the industrial rock route Rose took to record the one song the band has released in 10 years, Oh My God. Perhaps the tunes are from Chinese Democracy, the album Rose says will come out next year (uh-huh).

Rose and company knew the people came for the hits, and the group did a nice job of not bogging down the show with unfamiliar music. The evening was expertly paced and without lulls. Sure, the 2002 version isn't as drunk, sleazy and reckless as the Izzy-Slash-Duff-Axl-Adler combo that started this whole thing in '85, but, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back Guns N' Roses.

OhioFan's Review

GNR put on a great show! But first...

CKY came on at exactly 7:30 and played for about a half of an hour. They did seven songs and were politely received by the crowd. I didn't hear any boos, but the applause wasn't very loud either. They talked about how they've already had a good experience with Ohio crowds, probably talking about Cleveland's concert.

After about twenty minutes, Mixmaster Mike started doing his thing. He wasn't bad - obviously very talented. He played for about forty minutes and got a much louder ovation than CKY did.

The next hour was spent trying to get the girls in the audience to take off their tops. Not a bad way to kill the time.

Anyway, on to the good stuff.

At about 10:10, we hear the opening chords of WTTJ. The crowd just goes nuts! Axl comes out and yells: "Do you know where the fuck you are, Columbus?" For the next two hours, Axl and company simply gave us our money's worth and then some!

For those of you wondering, Axl came out with a white OSU jersey, #27. He later switched to the Red OSU #27 jersey. He said at one point that he has been wearing OSU jerseys for a long time. He then switched to a generic Columbus Blue Jackets jersey, then back to the white OSU one for Paradise City. I checked the current roster and there isn't a #27 listed for OSU right now. I'm not from this area, so maybe #27 means something to somebody, but I definitely don't know.

Back to the show. Axl sounded GREAT. The best he has in years. Especially during LALD - he let out a couple of long wails during that one - very nice. Plenty of pyrotechnics used in that song too.

He didn't really talk to us until after Think About You. He then comes out, and in a Ricky Ricardo voice, tells us: "You got some 'splaining to do." He then talks about the OSU riots of last weekend. Obviously in a very good mood, he tells us that when he saw the reports of the riots on TV, he checked his watch and thought he was late for the show or something ("What, am I late already?"). He also says, mockingly, that he would never, ever be involved in something like a riot, much to the delight of the crowd.

After Out Ta Get Me, Axl did that little football jersey rant he did in Cleveland, then tells us a little about Buckethead. However, tonight Axl says that he "*has* to mention" that Buckethead's father went to OSU. Then he introduces the next song as Mad At NASCAR. "Damn seatbelt rules!"

After that song and before November Rain, he briefly talks about a memory he has of Ted Nugent playing down south and him asking the crowd for some "Nashville Pussy." I think I missed part of this, so I'm unsure of what the hell that had to do with anything.

During Buckethead's solo, he played "Old MacDonald Had A Farm", then uses a synthesizer to record the last little bit of his solo. After that starts playing on a loop, he sets his guitar down and brings out a bag of what looked like sealed toys. I was on the floor, but wasn't close enough to see what he was giving out. Anybody else know?

I have to say that all three new songs were received well by the crowd. Some people already knew the words to them, especially Madagascar (since it was played on MTV).

Patience came and went without incident. Afterwards, Axl briefly mentions that Rock N' Roll is such a "friendlier sport" than football. Then he hears some guys up front asking for Nightrain. He then actually asks the Security Guard to hand his microphone to the guy, so he can ask for the next song! The guy yells out Nightrain, Axl gets the mic back, and the band launches into an awesome version of an old favorite of mine. Afterwards, he says "Columbus, Ohio; Ohio State; Good Night!"

The band leaves the stage, but not for long.

Robin comes out and starts a solo, which leads into Paradise City. Axl throws his whistle into the crowd after he uses it. Near the end of the song, rotating fireworks and confetti machines go off, making the stage alive with color. And Axl ends it with the classic "GOOD. FUCKING. NIGHT!!!"

Whew. I'm sorry I wrote a book, but I promised myself that I would stay up and type all this out before I forgot some of it. Axl sounded great. Yes, you could hear him over the band. He was really enjoying himself, interacting with the crowd. Several times he grabbed the hands of the people on the sides of the stage. And I can't forget to talk about the band! Man, they played the fuck out of the old songs! I've been a GNR fan ever since I heard WTTJ on the radio, but, honestly, I didn't miss any of the old guys tonight. Sometime during the show, Axl thanked us for coming out and checking out the new band. Believe me, I was thanking him for sharing them with us!

I hope you all get the chance to see these guys in concert. Again, it is well worth it.

Aylarose's Review

Ok this is gonna be a real fucked up review..cause its five in the morning..and I'm in a state of shock and just excuse this mess of a post...I'll try my best.

1. I spent the majority of the show in row 5. Same set list. Axl's voice DEAD on. Awesome.

2. Security at Nationwide arena can suck my ass. I got into it with a security guy and got so pissed I was yelling fuck you in his face and thought I was gonna get the boot. EVERYBODY moved up during Welcome...and I went up also..only to loose my original seat...SO...when mr. dickhead security began to yell at me to go to my seat..I'm like ok..find it for me...LOL..he couldn't I stood in the aisle the rest of the time. Dumbass..maybe you shouldn't worry about seating and instead the safety of the fans..see next...

3. I will never go to Nationwide again. For the security issue and because at one point..six huge guys had surrounded me..pushing and grabbing me...and I looked up to Axl for freakin help to get security. I dont' know if he saw me or not...but I saw him watching security pretty closely. I've been to TONS of concerts and was never was a bit much at times. I just started throwing elbows at the drunk boys...LOL

4. Back to the show...awesome pyro...awesome stage...As kidego said..Axl smiled and cracked jokes the entire time. He looks HAPPY. I couldn't catch most of what he said..because the men around me felt the need to scream the entire time during him talking. At one point..someone yelled "Axl is GOD" and Axl said "well no...but thanks" and smiled...turned around and said "sounds like a good job tho." LOL After one song...he whispered a thank you to the audience.

5. Talked about riots and jerseys and something about Ted Nugent in Indy..didn't catch that part.

Finally...I got down to the barricade for Paradise and well...this has been the best nite of my life so far...and I'm just overwhelmed I guess. They ALL sounded so good..(I think the crowd was in awe of BH)...I just never thought I would see it...let alone seeing it that close.

And I really should be in bed now..but who the FUCK could sleep after the best damn show I've seen PERIOD. Thank f**k**g god for Guns N Roses and bringing back REAL talent and REAL music.

So take all this for what it's worth...

David's Review

I just got back from the Columbus GNR show, and I must say, it was quite possibly the best concert I have ever been to. The overall feeling in the place was one of excitement and expectation, both of which were fulfilled. I heard one guy after the show commenting on how he hadn't expected it to be a good as it was, and how pleased he was with it. For someone who hadn't followed the band's comeback, I suppose that would be an understandable comment. To me, the show was above and beyond my already high expectations. First of all, Axl Rose sounded absolutely fantastic on EVERY song. His voice was there in full force for the entire show, so I'm not sure where all those people who said otherwise about previous shows were coming from. His singing was also very audible the whole time, as were the whistle blows on Nightrain and Paradise City. Also, Rose was in an exceptionally great mood, and seemed to really be enjoying himself, as were the rest of the band members, all of whom were in top form. The crowd, which was quite large in my estimation, were also very much into everything, including the new songs. "Madagascar" produced quite a few lighters, and was every bit of the epic it has been described as in past reviews.

Axl was very talkative, joking around throughout the show. He brought up the issue of the rioting that took place in Columbus over the weekend, saying, "I saw it on TV, and said to myself, Am I late already? What day is this?" That evoked quite a bit of laughter from the crowd. Before November Rain, Rose played two different pieces on the piano. One, I'm assumed is the slower piece that people have been guessing must be a new song. And the other, which he played first, was a faster paced piece which I think he tossed in because he just felt like playing it at the time. Very good stuff. Right before Nightrain, Axl was talking to the crowd and asked one of the security guards to his HIS mic, the classic red-topped one, out to a fan in the front row so he could say something. He said, "LET'S GET ON THE NIGHTRAIN", or something to that extent. Axl laughed and said, "You heard the man", and the band launched into a superb version of Nightrain. Speaking of the band, as I said earlier, they were all in top form, sounded great on everything, and there seemed to be plenty of cohesion and comaraderie between all of them, and as well with them and Axl. This is something that some people have commented they felt wasn't there, but I did not get that impression at all. The impression I got is that they were all very much enjoying themselves, and were enjoying performing with each other. All of the solos went very well, with the crowd being very much into them. Buckethead in particular went over very well, and was quite entertaining and obviously brought to light even further his extraordinary guitar playing skills. After he was done with his solo, which ended with a rendition of "Old MacDonald Had A Farm", he passed out what looked to be action figures to the crowd, which he carried out in a "Gamestop" bag. There were quite a few KFC buckets out in the crowd as well.

It was an excellent show, and based on the reviews I've been reading of shows, I would have to say that this show was probably one of, if not the, best show on the tour so far. I read that the Cleveland show the previous night was also excellent, and this one in my estimation matched or surpassed that. There is one other thing I would like to comment on, and then I'll stop. People have been mentioning a lot about the attendance, as if it hadn't been being as high as it should. The way I see it from the reviews that I've read, and what I've witnessed first hand in Columbus, is that the attendance has thus far been excellent. Keep in mind, this is band that hasn't toured in 10 years, and does not even have a new single on the radio, let alone a new album out yet. All the general public really knows of GNR's return is what they saw on the MTV Music Video Awards. In light of that, I think the attendance and overall buzz has been exceptional thus far. And I think it will pick up that much more once a single, a video, and the album get released.

An excellent show. The set list was pretty much the same as it has been, though I just remembered that "My Michelle" wasn't played, though I didn't notice that until just now, so I guess I didn't miss it, though I do like the song. Oh yeah, the opening acts were okay to. Mix Master Mike in particular was very entertaining, and was pretty well received I think. He was a good addition in my added some variety to the show as a whole. CKY were okay, and did their thing well, they just aren't my cup of tea. Anyway, if you get the chance, go see this show! You will be impressed.

SlashsTophat's Review

First of all DJ whaterver the hell his name is sucked, with that out of the way let me just say that CKY isn't that bad in my opinion they played about 10 songs and then DJ Fuck came on.

heres the times that everything happened from the "notes" I took:
7:30 exactly = CKY took stage
8:10 = CKY finished up
9:01 = DJ Bitch went on
10:10 = GNR started (without the"I beleive in murder speech)
12:10 = GNR said bye bye with Paradise City

Axl's voice was amazing thats all I have to say about that, Buckethead does his solo in this order: gets out his chucks and starts flippin' them around then they magically flip to his back and stick there on this cape like thing he is wearing, he goes and gets a V-guitar and plays his usual solo but at the end he plays Mary had a little lamb steps on a pedal so it plays it over and over again while he passes out what looked like to be Buckethead action figures to the audience.

As far as the merchandise goes, this is what I bought: A buckethead shirt that has Buckethead with a red guitar on the front and a gnr logo on the back, Another shirt, a gray one this time that has a stripe of stars going in a V-shape to the middle and where they meet is a GNR logo and on the back it says GUNS N' ROSES, a black hat woth the GNR logo on it, a black bandana, a copper looking neclace, and thats about it, they didn't have programs.

I got some confetti(spelling?) that they shot out at the end of paradise city like they did at the VMA's.

Dizzy plays his keyboards on a stand that looks like they are made of rubber he was just flippin them around and playin' with he knee's n' shit.

Right before they played Nightrain Axl says "Hey you Mr. Srcurity guy give this to that guy there!" and Axl hands his mic. to him and the guy yells "You're on the Nightrain" and then Axl says "You heard him!" then they play Nightrain.

One more thing that doesn't really have to do with GNR but was funny as hell, we were all standing up and this guy comes to me and says "Can I get trough here?" because he sat in the same row, so he goes and can't get through so he says screw it and starts to walk on the chairs, anyway when he walks through he falls through(they are folding chairs) and when he gets back up from that he tries again and falls yet another time, tomake along story short he did it about 5 more times, I thought he was going to break his leg.

M. Jason Smiley's Review

hometown show tonight! my buddy and i went - i had seats from the presale - we were like 11th row on the side of the stage. seats fucking rocked! level with the stage, right there next to guys! crowd was good again tonight - i'd say this one was pretty full. floor was full, lower bowl full, upper bowl a good 80% full. i was expecting a little more noise - big crowd but they seem pretty quite, more willing to stand and watch the show compared to freaking out all night. good mix again - old people, my age, and a bunch of kids. a bunch of little bucketheads running around also.

setlist was the normal again. i didn't a long drive home tonight so you'll have to wait for me to listen to the tapes before i get a setlist - but it was the usual.

sound was great tonight. i think axl messed up the lyrics once... that was about the only mistake i heard. another dissappointing night for robin. at least i can say that he didn't fuck up the solo in november rain for the 3rd night in a row. i think this guys sucks. liek i said before - i was expecting so much more from him, but in 3 nights... he has not impressed me at all.

tommy didn't have a suit on tonight! black pants and tshirt - real punk rock type look. also got a closeup of buckethead's "cape". it's an apron. we use to have the same ones at kroger. if you think of a grocery clerk type apron (ties around the neck and the back, pockets in the front) - that's what it is. axl wore 2 buckeye football jersey's tonight (a white one and a red one, switched back the white one again at the end) and a bluejackets hockey jersey.

razaredge's Review

Wow, it looks like I get to give a review. I'll make it simple to all you GnR fans........


I got to thearena about 7;30, had no tickets, and I was bringing my 20 year old daughther. The scalper hooked us up with 7th row center. CHOICE SEATS!!!

I really can't complain, but I will, hoping someone close to the band will tell them. I thouhgt AXL was lip syncing. The first 3 or 4 songs you could barely hear him, until he ripped the screams. They finally got it fixed and then it was ROCK ON. I thought I read in other threads that there was problems with the sound.

BUT OH MY GOD, this band is good and AXL hasn't lost a thing. In fact he was hysterically funny.

He made a comment about after Ohio State beat Michigan there were riots and burning cars, he said to himself, "What am I already late for the show?" The place went wild. It just looked like they were all having fun.

One last thing before i visit the sandman. I am older fan, in my late 30's and I am all new to this Buckethead guy. But that MF can play his ass off.

All in all, I could ask for more. My daughter and I had a great time. Later.

Brett's Review/Notes

During YCBM intro solo, something totally went wrong with Finck or his guitar. He was on the right stage flank and started 5 seconds of the intro solo then turned and threw his guitar (about 10 feet down) towards the back center stage, ran down picked up another guitar and played the rest of the solo okay. He fucked up alot in different places, wasn't his night I guess. He really looked disgusted through the whole show. A thought that crossed my mind is that he may be the first to bolt from the camp.

Axl does favor the right side of the stage (as we would look upon it). He reached out and touched peoples hand on four occasions on that side.

My wife and I were in line to get a soda before the show (I didn't want to be intoxicated for a show I'd waited 10 years for) when we noticed a big black guy, dressed in black with a number of "05" on his sweater was directly nose to nose with a white guy. It looked innocent at first glance then you could tell things were getting heated. Both ended up walking away, but I note this because the guy in the "05" sweater was on stage during the show as security, also opening the back stage curtain for Axl. Maybe this was the famous "Earl" but to me he didn't seem as big as the Earl I've seen in videos.

Many female chests were displayed.

Bob Farrar's Review

I went to the Guns n Roses concert last night in Columbus, man was it awesome. The usual set list so I won't even list it. Axl seems so happy, throughout the night making comments about the riots in Columbus over the weekend, saying he turned on CNN and had to ask himself if he was late already, saying that Rock n Roll is safer than football. He also wore 2 different Ohio State jerseys and a Columbus Blue Jackets jersey. During Live and Let Die his scream was awesome, it got a round of applause itself alone, and when he said "when you got a job to due and you do it well" he pointed at his Ohio State jersey, also getting a big reaction. I loved the way all 3 guitarists did solos in November Rain. All the new songs got good reactions, The Blues got the best reaction in my opinion. My favorite song had to be Nightrain, a song I used to think was a great song to start with, now is a perfect song to perform before the encore. The show started around 10:10 with about a half hour of girls flashing. Mix Master Mike was cool at first but seemed to drag after awhile, and CKY was pretty bad.