Just back from Budapest. What a trip. Despite everything seeming to go wrong, it all gelled in the end. And Guns rocked. What an experience.
My play by play follows here...
No Ass In The Air
- Guns N' Roses at Pap Lazlo Sportarena, Budapest, Hungary, May 31st 2006.
Copenhagen. On a Wednesday. The day would start - and continue - as a typical Guns N' Roses day. We get to the airport and our flight is curiuosly not boarding. Hm.
Every other plane after ours - to Paris, damn Djibouti, friggin' Manchester - are! WTF? No Budapest? So, finally, we are called to gate only 20 minutes before take off. We won't make that schedule. Not that we were in a hurry, the show wasn't untill 20:00 that evening and scheduled departure was 14:10 with a flight time of only two hours. But this WAS a Guns N' Roses show - and abroad even - so many things could go wrong.
Many, many things could go ever so wrong.
It's Murphy's Law.
But Axl was the least of our worries at that point.
We board the plane. As we're just getting comfortable the captain says: "Eh.. There's a weird smell in the cabin. We'll need you all to leave the plane. Immediately." Ever felt like you were in a Mel Brooks film? Worse, Airplane!
"And.. eh.. Take your handbagage with you... eh.. Thank you. And now, please!"
As we exit, the smell in the cockpit area resembles a burnt campfire consisting of plastic bags. The cabin crew are wearing masks. Pretty freaky.
Alright, alright. So a slight panic ensues and everyone leaves. We come out to the gate and three stewardesses are scrambling for the mike. "Weee-Oooooh... Hallo? Er der nogen? Yes. Hello, ladies and gentlemen, there's a weird smell on the flight that we'll need to examine and we'll get back to you. Thank you for your patience."
Oh no. Delayed? Cancelled? It would mean no show.
Both my girlfriend and I have flown all our lives, so we're world-weary travellers to say the least.. If its got wings, it can fly. Still the safest way to travel. So we remained cool, all but waiting on if the flight is cancelled.
But you could see the look on some people's faces. Some were getting jittery. Like "We're not going on THAT plane again" *laughs*. But understandably so. Better safe than sorry.
All I'm thinking is.. The next flight to Budapest out of Kastrup that day was at 20:20, and that would make for an ETA after luggage/hotel/whatnot at the Sportarena in Hungary at around 23:30 the earliest. If there would be any available seats, that is. So, half past eleven would be mid-show according to schedule. But this was not Axl-Time, right? Ah, he wouldn't pull another Madrid. Or would he? Wait for it..
Luckily we were flying SAS (Scandinavian Airlines), so 10-15 minutes later we get an announcement that the airport is saying they have another flight standing by, that they'll be fueling, security checking and loading baggage on it right away. We'll all be handed gate-change passes and we're off!
We're delayed only 1½ hours all in all. Brilliant. Free drinks onboard due to the delay courtesy of SAS. The "smell" in the original aircraft was nothing.
A small passenger, reading-light lamp that had melted. But kudos they go to the trouble of telling the passengers. All in good style. Anyway, free drinks. Johnnie Walker Red and coke. What the hell. All there is. Cheers.
We arrive in Budapest late afternoon. Lo and behold our luggage is there too. My luggage is usually ALWAYS late. One or two days. It's as if they go: Oh, it's that guy again. Send his bags to Iceland.
Taxis are everywhere and the eastern-european feel hits us straight on. Hungary is in many ways moving rapidly forward after years and years of a fascist dictatorship (disguised as communism like the rest of the old eastern-block once locked behind an iron curtain), but mere miles outside the airport it resembles a run-down Russian village. The roads have more potholes that in Nairobi. The people are ever so nice though.
We get to our lodgings - Hotel Veritas. Handy, little hotel and we've got a two-room suite almost. Dirt cheap. Located only 200 yards from the Sportarena. Wash up and off we go. The Hungarian people (we met) were both friendly and hospitable. Their English was very poor, but not from lack of trying. Hats off.
The venue is really cool. Rebuilt in 1999 and it's shaped like a flying saucer. There are hordes of people. Young and old, many sporting oldtime Guns gear. Illusions. The Get in the Ring in red lettering on the back. Ah, memories. Faded, washed out Appetite tees. Saw many Kill Your Idols tees too. Lot of elderly people.. ahem, well, older than Yours Truly! Hippies, gray-haired oldschool rock n' rollers in Zep and Sabbath tees. Some in the two-colored Illusion tees that became hard to get years back. Cool crowd.
There's a buzz.
We get handed "After Party" flyers of a local Guns N' Roses Cover Band. The ticket booths were still selling tix, but the gig was almost sold out. In Denmark we're known for our hot-dog stands everywhere, here it's some weird pretzels/bagels kindda cakes, with sugar on 'em. They sold them everywhere. From stands in the middle of the walkway up to the arena, by the train station and in the venue.
For those who have been to Globen in Stockholm, the Pap Lazlo Sportarena is very similar, but only two floors. It's built like a "roundabout" outside the venue itself, having beer stalls, wardrobe and merch selling facilities all around - but on the inside. There are small balconies - outside - for the smokers. After a trip to the wardrobe and merch stand, we go out and suck in some crisp evening air. Budapest looks cool at night.
Our seating is on the sides and waaay back. Not the best seats, but they'll do. We wanted seats, not standing, and my girlfriend was not only new to going to a GNR show but to hard rock shows altogether.
I forget the name of the openers. But they go on at around 20:45, fortyfive minutes after they were supposed too.
They sound horrible. My girlfriend texts me while I'm in line for beers that it must be the Finnish Lordi (or Gorgi or whatever the hell this band is called) *laughs*. Awful. So I'm in line. Now, there's three lines at every beer stall and when you get to the front - fight for your place, dammit. I'm getting to old for this shit. Where is my fedora hat and whip?
Then.. The beer machine breaks down. No, no, no.
I'm one service away at this point. The guy in front is BOOZED out of his mind, laughing and spewing chunks of these pretzel/bagel/whatyoumightcall'ems around everyone when he opens his mouth. I figured.. So far, so good. And Axl, hold your Guns! It's 9-ish now. People are pushing and shouting. I don't understand a word, but I bet it was about that beer machine.
I look behind me, the "beer line" is stretching all the way down to our entrance - Gate L. Holy shit. I'm staying in line. 21:45. Beer machine fixed! Yay! Opening band is off the stage I hear. So the guy in front of me turns to me and says "¤#"ZXY GUNS N' ROSES! ?=%#¤#% AAAAAAXL ROOOOSE! $£ZY" and smiles. He's got a point. But he's also got not chunks but whole Pretzels between his teeth now.
I go "Right on, bro" and urge him to order, waving my hand towards the counter.
He lifts his hand and goes "Four.. And four!" Eight beers? Say what, man? So the machine might be fixed but it's taking minutes to just pour one beer (what I call a "foam disorder" - and I'm copyrighting that) and the kid behind the counter is really feeling the pressure of that line now.
My buddy in front is having eight? Show some solidarity, brother. Anyway, the beer is great. It's Hungarian and called Dreher. Kindda like the Hungarian answer to Budweiser or Danish Carlsberg, but unlike those two it's really tasty and fruity for a draft.
My turn! I order only two beers, seeing as how my friend there spilled seven of his eight beers bopping and stomping down through many angry would-be customers in the line, still spewing chunks of those Pretzel things all over. God bless him.
I get to our seat. We chat with a couple sitting straight behind us. They were ever so sweet - and if you by a one in a million chance read this, yeah it was us! You guys read the whole tour off of that white tee my girlfriend was sporting, offered us chocoalte during the wait and translated for us later on. The guy is a MAJOR fan. He's around 50 and even brought binoculars. It just then dawned on me that Appetie For Destruction came out in 1987. 19 years ago. Whoa.
22:00 comes and goes. A lot of people are VERY drunk now. And restless.
A flashlight on stage. An announcement. Oh. No.
As the speaker goes but one syllable we're thinking - Nooooo! - not another no-show. He goes off in Hungarian (there were a lot of people there from other countries so this was highly un-professional) and all we get from his two sentences were ".....Axl".
And then a huuuuuuuuge "BOOOOOOOOOOOO" from the crowd and everyone lifts their middle finger at the stage. And immediately many start to face around and walk out.
Shit. Fuckin' shit.
I glimpse my girlfriend going "You told me so, you told me so.." The couple behind us quickly tell us to remain seated however, and translate: "They say.. Technical problem.. Should be twenty minutes. Half hour. Axl, band are here."
It would get better. Or worse. Depends!
They're playing rock songs over the PA. Alice in Chains. Pearl Jam. Aerosmith. Kravitz. Limp Bizkit. Zeppelin. But no sound testing or anything. Not a beep. Yeah right, they got "sound problems". Axl's missing in action is what it is.
23:00 rolls around. Some people are leaving. I don't blame them. It's a working day Thursday. Hell, we were getting impatient and we were on holiday! I know the inner workings of one Axl Rose after so many years, but after that flight and all the new, interesting sights and sounds of a foreign country... Just from the airport, cab ride and people at the hotel... well, we were tired.
I think of my friend in the beer line. He's probably puking out those pretzellian cakes on the balcony right now.
23:15. Inbetween the songs played on the PA, people are boooing. Whistling. Chanting. Not in a friendly fashion. We end up sitting alone, with only our friends, the sweet Hungarian couple behind us. People have left. The venue is still packed though. The floor is four fifths full and the major part of the sides and top balconies full too.
So much for a "20 minute" technical problem, huh?. This is Axl, I just know it. Ofcourse it's Axl. He's en-route from Milano still, sipping Cristal. We see some police officers around the place. Okay, so they're expecting a riot. Or maybe I'm getting paranoid. More boos. Whistles.
23:30. There's a tension. A major tension in the crowd. Some are squatted down on the floor, sleeping. Drunk. Tired. Worn-out. Tension rises. Hostility.
Like a bubble ready to BURST..
I think of the riots in 2002. The Philly incident. The old St. Louis gig. The whole comets-tail of smashed shows that follows this band around. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
I had been texting Lars1975 (from the GNR Bar) at this point a few times and he actually calmed us down with a simple text back: "Patience." He was right. I should have known this. The only problem is: The band should at least start printing tickets with a showtime at around maybe 23:00. Then it would seem reasonable. People here in Hungary had NO idea. Only the diehards.
And then... Just as you could hear a pin drop.. at 23:33.. the intro music starts. I remember going "This is it!" - win OR lose this crowd, the band is going on. Now.
However, it goes on forever. I missed the old Rio cartoon suddenly. That's still my favorite. But this was okay I guess, but it just wouldn't stop. Is this Chris Pittman playing or a DAT tape, anyway? More boos. Maybe they WERE testing the sound, but in this fashion? They're reeeeally stretching this intro, mkay? Getting boos is NOT the way you wanna start a concert.
More boos. Not good. Not a good way to finally enter the stage, n'est pas?
"Dja dja, dja dja..."
"Dja dja, dja dja......."
Crowd goes ballistic.
People stumble to their feet, on each other, into each other, over each other...
"Dja dja, dja dja... Dja dja dja dja, dja dja...DO YOU KNOW WHERE THE FUCK YOU ARE?"
We know, Axl, we've been here since seven o'clock. But Welcome to the Jungle, folks. Indeed! I get ecstatic and leap outta my seat, shouting "Aaaaaaaxl!". The couple behind us do the same. My girlfriend later told me she actually got goosebumps. It *IS* the coolest opening song in rock history, but this tease... It's what rock n' roll is all about. The sound is good too. Flawless. Sound problems or not, sound is puuurhh-fect.
The voice. That voice. The desperation, anger, danger, authenticity. It's genuine. It's a classic. They're back.
I was yelling 'Axl' just outta sheer delight that he was not a no-show. We're talking flight tix, hotels and a hell of a way to start a four day vacation on a low if he was a no-show. His music, songs, this new band, it will all stand regardless of what happens next (and even no album), but for that couple of seconds and for the first time in 15 years I felt like a giddy fanboy (again). Rightfully so. And we were sharing this - my girlfriend and I - her being new to the new songs but into the old hits and actually quite intrigued about Axl's (crazy) inner workings too. All the great artists were nut-cases, she says. Amen.
Okay. The band sounds tight as hell, the sound is great despite a little wee-wee fall-back from the back of the venue and Axl's on target. This guy is singing BETTER than ever. Not that I ever doubted it. I love how commenting on Axl's voice has become like rating wine these days. And I'm no different. All we need now is Robert M. Parker Jr. getting onboard. Look, the guy is singing better than ever. This might be my first Guns gig since 1993, but I got 30 bootlegs since then (with the new lineup) to show for it and BY GOD ALMIGHTY (coming from an atheist mind you) - cat can sing.
They roll straight into It's So Easy and the crowd has forgotten the last five hours. Or so it seems.
Axl starts to talk. "Welcome to the big rock show, this is the big rock show, a big rock show, oh, the big rock show, this is a big rock show.."
He's smiling, bull-shitting. He's game.
Then Mr. Brownstone. Brian Mantia adds so much be-bop, feel and funk to this song and it simply sways wider than Axl's snake-dance. Almost shaking the arena walls. Awesome. Brownstone ends. Yowza.
And there's Tommy Stinson, all shit-eating grin like I remember him from Loppen at Christiania in Copenhagen, where Lars1975, his girlfriend and I saw one of his solo gigs. He may have been a key member and founder of cult-act The Replacements (which I've always loved) but he is no replacement here. Duff who? Oh, a beer brand on the Simpsons. Next!
Axl goes forward, fidgetting his mike.
"So.. We're sorry about the delay," he goes. "I was PRETTY fucked up."
He goes on with a comment about all the downloaders and ends going: "This is... Better."
It starts off-key with Axl's falsetto and Finck's guitar not meshing, but then the gigantic riff hits and it ROCKS.
My girlfriend and I had no sense of time by now. I've put the set-list at the bottom here, but there could be a few blurps or misses. This band is amazing. The background vocals on Better need work, but I heard (when I came home today) that Finck split the stage and smashed his guitar (?). It all didn't gell, but the song has a fearless drive that's just a lock. I love this song. As Axl sings of knowing someone better, now he knows that said person knows he knows better, a funny wordplay, yes, but I think of what an amazing song this is. The end verse, sung almost in pain to the freigh-train riff and roll is trancelike live.
Robin wrote this song. And Axl the great lyrics. This "new" outfit is indeed a band. "Is there a technical difficulty I am not aware of?" Axl goes as Robin is MIA. He comes back. I forget the order of songs around here, but that remark kindda zealed the ordeal on the late showtime. Or did it?
Now... Everything gets more murky. Due to beers, energy levels drained and just practically saying "Fuck all" and soaking in every minute of this show.
Ron Thal Bumblefoot comes out. Solo.
The camera zooms in on his guitar and the three huge screens behind the band on stage highlight him. He sounds terrible. I'm NOT feeling this guy. He's tapping but it's horrendous, hurried and off-key. WTF? Then.. The guitar spreads wings.. In the midst of this off-key wailing. And it's blown up on the screens. Brundlefly? People start to boo again. That's gotta hurt. He exits quickly.
Then.. We're into Live and Let Die with a jazzy, fresh sounding piano high in the mix (Dizzy) and a more wholesome, refined sound than on past tours. These guys are musicians with a capital G and R. Crowd goes ape again.
The screens flash lead-befitted, colored church windows and Dizzy's keying the beautiful organ-sounding opening to Madagascar. Whoa. My favorite of the newbies (still) due to the lyrical metaphors Axl here injects of human isolation and the whole situation of freeing yourself from the past. A wise man once said: You may be done with past, but the past is not done with you. How true. Axl is singing to the heavens and with each show, cutting his ball and chain. Reflective, resonant.
This is rock n' roll with a brain. Pun intended, but seriously, folks, this is rock n' roll with a scope long gone from the major spotlight. You'd usually have to go under the radar for a song like Madagascar and boy oh boy, does it sound good in this kind of a venue.
As Finck rips the first notes of Sweet Child O' Mine the UFO that is the Sportarena lifts off. Pretzel-whatyoumightcall'ems, beer stalls, drunkards and all! We're seated pretty far back but the surge goes through the arena and back again. It's poetic justice almost.
The band has won over the crowd. Axl-Time and all. I notice how Rose sounds raspy on the first verse - think Big Daddy soundtrack and the Illusion tours - and how he's spot on crisp and organic for the rest of the song. Magic.
These guys are sharp like a Samurai sword and the intensity of both the old and new songs is staggering.
There are stops between the songs. Guns were always "real" - realtime it's called today, I guess, in the computer age - and they'd decide songs as they went along and this is a trademark and makes for some of the appeal. You never know what you're gonna get.
Here, tonight, it drains some energy though. Pfew.
Then You Could Be Mine. With no "ass in the air" inserted by Axl like on the live album. Hm. Anyway, the band is bulls-eye once again. They're smoking. What a punch they pack. In your face.
Enter: Dizzy Reed. By many accounts the highlight of the evening. As Axl's grand piano rolls in - Reed, not Rose - sits down. And starts to play. Play is an understatement. Hammer delicately away. Dizzy was always an AMAZING musician and finally - FINALLY - he gets to go off. This new band is all about the players - on their own - and what magic they make TOGETHER at the core. New AND old. Dizzy goes on and on (Ziggy Stardust?) and it sounds like the angels coming down. He continues and the crowd start to chant along not realizing what song he's rolling, rocking and tapping away at, head bowed down, dreads going everywhere. Homerun, Diz.
Straight into.. The Blues. The highlight for me this evening. A beast of a song dressed in sheep's clothing. A rocker soaked in melodic Elton John hooks but luckily free of Bernie Taupin lyrics. It's a beauty. Axl's moment, if you want.
Guns N' Roses tear through Out Ta Get Me. I'm waiting for Axl to set fire to a policeman's hat on stage. Bad ass shit. The groove is deeper, harder, more fluent than the old band. It's got more texture. Width. Aggression. Musicianship.
Did I mention Richard Fortus? What a sensational shredder. Can't remember if he even played lead on that song, but I thought I'd mention him as he's CERTAINLY gained his limelight in this band since 2002. And he's boxing for room in a ring featuring a Mr. Robin Finck and a Mr. Ron Thal.
Fortus is out on the boards doing a solo and it's Beautiful by Christian Aguilera.
The balls on these fellas! Spaceballs? Well this band breaks for nobody. We get chills, hell, the entire crowd gets chills as everyone is chanting along. Not knowing the lyrics to a (goddamn) Aguilera song, but realizing - and accepting - the sheer wonder of the melody. Finck joins him from stage left and they jam it out, layer on layer. Goosebumps. The crowd is now croooooning along. Moxie, folks. Pure Moxie.
And on with the show.
"It's good to be back here," Axl goes. The response is good but the crowd is tired. Not like that of the band's last two Rio shows. But Axl seems to know he was late. Maybe he does use that designer wrist-watch every now and then. Seriously, love him or hate him... he was a trooper tonight. The crowd were REAL tired by now. Later on, as the band do an impromptu jam session - jazzy, breezy go-at-it with Axl voice-scratching (sounds bloody terrific and funky) he says - almost as if realizing the crowd is tired - "You'll have to forgive us. I don't know what that was. Sometimes we just go off... Maybe it was an old Hungarian folk song?". A nod to the fact that Guns N' Roses did in fact play an old Hungarian folksong the last time they were here over thirteen years ago.
Anyway, he continues: "Hey, this is an old number by.. Bon Jovi..[devilish smile]."
Turns out it's Knockin on Heavens Door.
Now a fusion of the sing-along version by the old band and the bluesy, anthemic back-to-basics beauty of what the new band played in 2001 and 2002. More feel, zest and emotion in the latter, but this half-breed does the trick as well for us. The piano (Dizzy again) high in the mix, it's now a funky cowboy song on steroids. Even in these Brokeback Mountain days *smiles*. They deliver a fucking amazing cover. Axl crooning and oozing heartfelt out on top. Voice is ace. Ace. The crowd goes ballistic yet again in response to this red-haired maniac's amazing vocal pipes and true, artistic rock n' roll presence. He walks it like he talks it.
"Alright now..," Rose says as he goes forward getting ready to bring in the crowd for a four-time runaround. "I sing one and then you sing one..." Sound familiar? Suddenly I felt like I was channelled by Sir Alec Guiness going; "Now that is a .. I have not heard in a looong time." Circa 1977. Fuck yeah.
It's getting real late though. Piano rolls in again. Axl sits down. Chewing gum and smiling. Content. He turns around and smiles at Stinson (I think), pulls a joke. He starts playing an Elton John song (I forget which) and then.. November Rain. There's a cascade of sparks that rain down for the end verse and everyone in the crowd is now practically hovering over the arena floor.
My girlfriend and I have moved closer, but we're still seated (due to people behind us). They can't top this, can they? We know, ofcourse, that probably Nightrain and Paradise City are closers, but I'm looking at the red-eyed, already hungovered, Hungarian crowd and I'm happy the band gave such a great performance after coming on hours late. They could end now, it'll still be a smash. We certainly got our money's worth, flying down from Copenhagen.
Enter Brundlefly.. sorry, Bumblefoot!
Sporting a red beanie and looking like the new member - which he ofcourse is - pretty nervous - he starts to play again.
Just before the crowd starts to boo, his guitar playing lights a spark. Fluent, flying and fantastic, he's doing his thing. Then he slows it down and it's... Don't Cry.
The whole arena sings the song and Thal is having his moment. A spectacle to say the least - easy cheesy on paper - but Thal plays to this song's strengths and does his own, little variation of it and it's a truly, deserved moment. He's moved and touched, blows a kiss to the crowd and bows. Bravo.
A "universal" one, be it Hungarian, English - even Chinese for that matter. Last train for those hoping to go to work in a few hours. Take the Nightrain on Axl-Time. They BLAST and RIP through this song. It's killer. I mean it when I say it: I cannot bring myself to hear this song live by the old band anymore. This new band is taking Nightrain into orbit. Hoooo-ly SHIT.
Laughs on everyone. More like good morning, aye? Okay, so it's only half past one. "That was Mr. Finck doing a [couldn't hear]," Axl says as he comes out and Robin rolls in with the opening lick to Paradise City and the arena implodes in jubilation.
As the song storms to a crescendo - this tale of yearning for a better place, of adolescent wayward rock n' roll Los Angelesnitis pulling the plug - with confetti raining down, over and out on us, the crowd - Guns N' Roses bow down for the night. Good fuckin' night, Budapest.
Same to ya, Guns N' Roses.
What a show, what a rock n' roll spectacle. A hard rock monstrosity.
Highlighted, led and often halted by one Mr. W. Axl Rose, but also fueled and re-imagined by the very same. He was - and most certainly is - the vortex of one of the greatest rock n' roll bands of our time. Singer, songwriter, live performer. There was nobody like him back in the day and with this show - as I finally saw the 44-year old Howard Hughes of rock live on a stage, not just from a recent bootleg - he reminded me of what caught my ear and eye in the first place. Besides the voice, the charisma, the great tunes, the raging punkish songs AND the poetic and reflective songs.
This guy is the REAL deal. Then and now.
We wander into the night. High on music. The best high.
Thursday we spent shopping and sightseeing in inner-city Budapest.
Friday my girlfriend and I spent the whole day (pre-booked) at Margitsziget Island, at the Danubius Spa and Hotel.
There are hot and cool pools, real swimming pools and a stone-walk filled with ice-cold water (this gets the blood flowing I'm tellin ya'). Now if you're man enough for this next shit, I strongly recommend it. You ladies probably all know what I'm talking about. Hungary is famous for its spas (dating back to when it was occupied by the Turks). We started out with a Cleopatra bath - which is basically a bath in hot water over milk (!). That was pushing the limit for me, but I shouldn't push my luck so early on I found... See, for the next treatment we got taken into each our little rooms. I'm there and told to strip down. Completely! And lie on the couch. This Hungarian lady says it like it's the most natural thing. Eh, okay. So I do. She then precedes to brush me down with these two animal-haired brushes. All over... eh, except one place. All the while I'm thinking of Roseanne Barr.. Naked!
Then.. She whips out this big basin of some weird cream stuff. It's honey, beer and milk and some herbal thingy. She covers me in it. Asks me to lie on my back. Then back on my chest and back again. She then wraps me in thermal covers so only my head is sticking out.
"See ju ind thirdy min'ates."
What? Oh well. So there I lay. Feeling like a bad "Axl Rose mid-90s Herbal Wrap Joke in Rolling Stone". But I actually fell asleep. It was quite relaxing. And your skin feels like a baby afterwards. Smooth and cleansed. Although you do smell like sourdough milk for a few hours.
As we get ready to order a cab in the afternoon, the porter at this (very) fine hotel ducks us, as he ushers in a bunch of people in cabs right in front of us. Shit happens. We're not staying here, we're only here for the spa. He apologizes and asks where we're going.
"Well, the Pap Lazlo Sportarena," I say in my best Hungr-ish, not recalling the name of our hotel for a splitsecond.
"Oh, dere a shouw twonight?" he says genuinely interested.
"No. There was yesterday. Guns N' Roses."
"Yeyz. Yeyz! Dey com fwor owers lade on, wright? I dinka Axel usey da cokaina!" he says.
We all three laugh.
He orders us a cab for a fixed price (remember that - if you're going to Budapest by the way - get fixed prices). Nice fella, but I wasn't as much laughing with him, certainly not at him, as much as at public opinion. But can one blame the igonorant public/media here? What do they know? The band were 2 hours late and not due to sound problems it seemed. This is Hungary. For all good intentions, they've been outta the GNR loop for a while. Not to mention their internet and general news availability.
So, today Saturday, as we ordered a cab for the airport, my girlfriend mentions the show as we swing out of the hotel and by the arena and the driver goes "Yeyz. Gyns ond Roises. Dey com on vjery lade, yeyz? Gwood show?" he asks. Another kind Hungarian. Wish we could have stayed longer actually. Didn't get to soak in as much culture as we would have liked to. Milk, honey and beer is one thing altogether.
"The best. They made up for it," she says.
"Well dey come on wery late I hear, mayni peepol njot gid taxi, njot gid home."
He was so very right.
We were lucky though. We could walk home. Practically jump home, our hotel was that close. But yes. Guns N' Roses need to work on printing another start time on those tix. At least to prepare people. This is not gonna work through the Summer.
And it would be a pity too.
Because there's no band out there even remotely close to these guys - Guns N' Roses Version 2.0 - in terms of being a bad-ass rock n' roll band, carrying chops, originality and nostalgia all in one potent mix. And an Axl Rose on top of his game.
Even without an ass - his ass - in the air.
So... roll on Roskilde and Oslo!
Setlist (from the best of my memory):
They went on at EXACTLY 23:33 (intro started) according to my text message to Lars1975, that I had under my thumb ready to press SEND!
01- Intro (around 10-15 minutes!)
02- Welcome To The Jungle
03- It's So Easy
04- Mr. Brownstone
07- Live And Let Die
09- Robin Solo
10- Sweet Child O' Mine
11- Richard & Robin Solo (Christina's Beautiful, Richard started it, joined by Finck midsong)
12- You Could Be Mine
13- Blues Jam
14- Dizzy Reed Piano Solo
15- The Blues
16- Out Ta Get Me
17- Knockin' On Heaven's Door
18- My Michelle
19- Axl Piano Solo
20- November Rain
23- Ron Thal Bumblefoot solo (Don't Cry)
24- Robin Solo
25- Paradise City
Ivo Barbic's Review
They were more than two hours late. Man I hate that waiting - was so nervous. They started with jungle which was a bomber followed by easy and brownstone. Then Robin who was in strange mad mood got mad on his tech, they got in a fight (he crashed mic stand with his guitar) and he went offstage. At that point I thought show was over. But they finished the song and the band went offstage. Axl looked worried. At that point the new guitarist made his guitar solo wit that strange lookin guitar, the rest of the band was probably arguing backstage.
The show went on with live and let die, better, madagascar, out to get me, my michele, you could be mine, the blues, november rain, cristina solo, solo don't cry, encore was paradise city (I probably forgot to mention some songs - don't remember all of them).
Axl's performance was cool, but in my opinion what an asshole (tommy had tell him every detail of stage happenings). He didnt have any rants, just the one about better (fucking computers), apologized for the delay of the show.
I don't know what to say. For live performance and stage persona, band like performance I more prefere Velvet Revolver - at least they were on time.
But after all Axl is still Axl.