Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
December 15th 2006

Eric Matsuda's Review

Pretty fucking good, it actually topped San Francisco a few months ago despite being in a much larger venue. The sound was PERFECT, the best sound I've ever heard at an arena show. It's weird that a concert in a place built for basketball would sound better than in a place built for music. I was 4 rows up from the side of the stage and heard everyone's parts clearly...and usually the sound sucks in that area. I really wish that recordings could reflect what I heard last night, any doubters of this new band would recant on the spot. I know I had my doubts, even after having thoroughly enjoyed them before.

The whole upper deck was closed, there were a significant number of empty seats in the lower bowl, and the floor was probably 2/3 full. GA tickets probably should have been cheaper.

Sebastian Bach had finished his set at 11:30 or so, and then a security guy in our section said that Axl's plane had just left LA 20 minutes ago! We were prepared for a long wait, especially when you could see the drums and keyboards still covered with a tarp while the crew was just sitting around. We watched a couple fights break out in the audience, and that kept us entertained until the lights went down, earlier than expected at 12:30am. I don't know if the bit about Axl's plane was just a rumor, or maybe there was some information lagtime and he had left LA much earlier. But an hour break seems normal by Axl standards. If he really was in L.A., I hope he was either in the studio or the record company's boardroom. On the other hand, the Lakers game went to double OT...

We got the no-frills version of the setlist, the same one I saw in Rocket Queen, Down On The Farm, or Chinese Democracy. No appearance by Izzy, and no hometown reunion with Brain either. But we did get Lars Ulrich on drums for Out Ta Get Me. The audience's reaction to this was funny. At first it was shock, and then there was booing as people probably thought about stuff that's happened over the last 10 years (Napster, the movie, and that album where he played trash can lids), but then finally everyone gave him some respect and he got a good ovation. I knew there had been a reconciliation recently, and I thought that someone from Metallica might be spotted backstage. But these two probably hadn't actually shared a stage since that RIP magazine party, 16 years ago? And then when Sebastian came out to sing My Michelle, he and Axl kept making references to GAK! Man, that's old school.

Axl didn't say much in general, other than greeting Oakland as "the home of my beloved Raider Nation". There was no reference to the open letter or any recent events. He looked like he was in a good mood, except toward the beginning when he threw his ear monitor away. He also took a nasty spill during It's So Easy, looked like he almost slipped completely off the stage, but he recovered nicely and didn't seem too pissed about it. Oh yeah, and he sounded flawless. I really don't care if he has to run backstage every 2 minutes to get a hit of oxygen. The stuff he was doing on Knockin on Heavens Door was amazing. Musical highlights of the show would be KOHD, Madagascar, IRS, and Nightrain. I know that's a weird selection of songs, maybe that's why they stood out for me. I never liked the new band's KOHD until last night. IRS sounds much better live than on the leaked version.

Suicide Girls. Great move, opening the show with a comedy act. I mean, I pretty much couldn't stop laughing at every routine they did, each more ridiculous than the last. They had one routine where they reenacted the scene from Resorvoir Dogs with the cop tied up in a chair, I'm sure you can picture how it was played out. And then the last one involved Hershey's syrup. Helmet was pretty good. The complaints I'd always heard was that they were repetitive, but there was actually a lot of variation in their songs and different elements besides just straight hardcore/metal/whatever riffs.

Anyway, to rate the show:

Suicide Girls: B-
Helmet: B+
Sebastian Bach: B+
Guns N' Roses: A

I'd go again, probably.