Philadelphia Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA
June 13th 1991

- Tom Moon, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 6.14.91

So maybe the members of Guns N' Roses were worried they'd acquired the ''Biggest Band in Rock and Roll" title virtually by default.

Maybe they were just nervous.

But when the Los Angeles hard rock band returned to the Spectrum yesterday - about four years after its debut LP, Appetite for Destruction, sold 12 million copies - it hit the stage with something to prove.

Bolstered by a new drummer, Matt Sorum, and a keyboardist, Dizzy Reed, Guns N' Roses attacked its music with a bloodthirsty bite that erased any nagging doubts about staying power, or relevance in the notoriously fickle hard rock marketplace. If this band had an appetite for destruction before, it has now acquired the teeth to satiate it.

Playing before a pumped-up sellout crowd, Guns N' Roses delivered a set that mixed the throttling arena stomps of its first two albums with the decidedly bluesier material from the forthcoming Use Your Illusion I & II, two single albums to be released simultaneously in late July.

The new material showed substantial songwriting evolution. More important, it proved that the band has developed the musical confidence to back up every one of lead singer Axl Rose's athletic come-ons. Between verses, the band, led by Slash, played taut, explosive instrumental interludes that were compositions in themselves. On the new "Double-Talking Jive . . . ," for example, guitarist Slash uncorked a twisting, gloriously exploratory solo that ended in a quiet rumination rather than the expected thunderous flourish.

Elsewhere, Slash showed no shortage of firepower. His arching lead lines lifted "Welcome to the Jungle" - which Rose stopped in midstream when he spotted a fight on the floor - into the realm of the classic rock anthem. And his solo introduction to "Civil War," a song the group contributed to the Romanian children's relief project Nobody's Child, etched a desolate landscape that set the mood for the entire piece. Later, during another solo, he essayed the "Theme From 'The Godfather.' "

Slash and rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin teamed up for the kind of intricate two-guitar rhythm interplay often heard on record but rarely replicated live. The new material depends on that sound; though the crowd wasn't familiar with songs like "Double-Talking" and "Dust and Bone," the surgical-strike guitars made it easy to follow along.

Fans of vintage GnR material were not disappointed. Early songs like "Mr. Brownstone" and "It's So Easy" were rendered with tougher, more defiant strokes, and ballads like "Patience" were enhanced by keyboardist Reed. There was even a credible, if tenderfooted, cover: Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die," which proved that what Rose lacks in vocal range, he makes up for in spirit.

The show was opened by the utterly faceless Skid Row. Its wannabe-metal songs were marred by high-pitched feedback from Sebastian Bach's microphone. At times, the feedback sounded better than Bach's twerpy, overly histrionic vocals.

- Scott D. Kerber, The Morning Call, 6.15.91

There's a line in Guns N' Roses' "November Rain" that goes: "Nothing lasts forever, but we know hearts can change."

At the sold-out Spectrum Thursday night, during a show which had been announced only days before, it was a changed Guns N' Roses from the one that rocketed to fame from the mean streets of L.A. a few years ago. The retooled band performed a show that was tight and professional, but one that was loose enough to allow for the unexpected.

Take, for example, the unscripted encounter Guns N' Roses had with a skinny, shirtless, short-haired fan. During "Welcome to the Jungle," the man, who looked to be about 20, jumped on stage and began dancing. After he was tossed back from where he came by beefy security guards, he began taunting and shouting at singer Axl Rose. Rose, never one to back down from a confrontation, immediately had the band stop in mid-song.

"It's a shame a couple of major a------ have to f--- up everything," Rose shouted at the guy and his friends. After threatening to beat up the guy, Rose said, "You're one stupid m----------. You just got the s--- kicked out of you and you keep asking for more." The guy backed down and the crowd applauded lustily.

With things back under control, guitarist Slash asked Rose, "Should we pick it up from the first verse?"

"Let's start it over," Rose shouted, to the crowd's delight.

With its varied attack Guns N' Roses met the challenge of opener Skid Row, whose set was unexpectedly muscular. The band did not follow the sordid Warrant-Poison path of pop metal. Instead, Skid Row showed some guts with songs like "Monkey Business," the group's new single, "Sweet Little Sister" and the controversial "Get the F--- Out." Even a cover version of Aerosmith's "Train Kept A Rollin'" was credible. All this made the band's big hit ballad, "I Remember You," seem lame, although the crowd didn't notice.

During the encore, singer Sebastian Bach said, "You've all probably heard that we've had our ups-and-downs with Bon Jovi," as the crowd loudly booed the band's name. "On that tour we were told what to do, what to say and what to wear. But Guns N' Roses lets us do whatever we want!" Bach then dedicated the closer, "Youth Gone Wild," to Guns N' Roses.

From the beginning of its 2-1/2-hour-plus set, Guns N' Roses cranked out a series of songs that held back nothing.

There were hits like "Civil War," "Patience" and "Sweet Child O' Mine," which had the crowd singing along.

There were cover versions such as McCartney's "Live and Let Die" and Dylan's "Knocking on Heaven's Door."

And there was a liberal dose of new material from the upcoming "Use Your Illusion I" and "Use Your Illusion II" discs, which are due out in late July. Those songs, including "Dust and Bones" and "14 Years," where rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin sang the lead vocal, and "Double Talkin' Jive," also were well-received.

The second and final encore was the much-anticipated "Paradise City." It was a perfect description of the Spectrum at the end of the night.