Foxboro Stadium, Foxboro, MA
September 11th 1992

© Copyright Jim Sullivan, The Boston Globe, 9.10.92

"The train," says a confident-sounding Wendy Laister, "is absolutely back on the tracks."

Laister is the tour publicist for Guns N' Roses, and the train she refers to is the Guns N' Roses/Metallica tour. This train -- which has been rumbling and rattling through the football stadiums of North America this summer and is slated to stop at a sold-out Foxboro Stadium tomorrow afternoon -- has been derailed twice.

The first time, just before their July 31 date in Foxborough, it was a comparatively quiet derailment. Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose had strained his vocal cords and was advised by a throat specialist not to sing or speak for a week. Two shows were postponed, one was canceled. These shows weren't without their consequences -- it caused numerous headaches and plan changes -- but these things happen. And, remember, July 31 was the night of a major Boston- area deluge.

The second derailment was a bit more spectacular. It happened Aug. 8 before 53,000 fans at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Metallica singer-guitarist James Hetfield suffered severe burns to his left hand and both arms about an hour into their set during a flashpot mishap. Guns N' Roses, still at their hotel, were called to the stadium to start their show early. It was the show's first date since Rose's throat problems. As it turned out the sound mix was poor and Rose again strained his still-tender vocal cords trying to sing through the din. After 55 minutes, Rose and the band bailed.

And some of the fans -- news reports put it at about 2,000 -- went on a rampage. Trash cans and cars were overturned. Store windows were broken. Riot police were called in. Tear gas was employed. Twelve arrests were made. Ten people were treated for minor injuries.

Because of Hetfield's injury, the show went off the road for two weeks. They returned to duty Aug. 25 in Phoenix, with Metal Church guitarist John Marshall filling in for Hetfield, who still sings lead. Coincidentally, it's Marshall's second stint as a Metallica fill-in; he subbed for Hetfield when the singer broke his wrist on an earlier tour.

So what can we expect tomorrow in Foxborough?

"Things are going exceptionally well," says Roxanne Youssef of Guns N' Roses' label, Geffen. "No problems, knock wood. From what I know there have been no problems. On the Guns N' Roses front, Axl's voice is fine. The relationship between the two bands is really good. Metallica waited for us when Axl had throat problems and we waited for them when James got burned."

"Coincidentally, the two-week hiatus gave Axl's voice a chance to heal," adds another Geffen voice, Bryn Bridenthal.

The show, a triple bill, has been moved up because of a midnight curfew imposed by the city of Foxborough. "The reason is the shows have been running very, very late," says Foxboro Stadium general manager Brian O'Donovan. "I certainly think it's unfair to expect the residents to be bombarded after midnight and the town had the same sentiments and they imposed a curfew of 12 midnight. But they also said you can start two hours earlier."

The doors open at 2:30 p.m. Faith No More's set is slated for 4:30-5:15. Metallica is due 5:45-8:00 and Guns N' Roses for 9:15 or 9:30 to midnight. Of note: The hour-and-15 to hour-and-a-half break between the co-headliners' performances is perfectly normal, stresses Laister, because of the time it takes to rip apart and assemble two complete sets.

"Actually," she adds, of the notoriously late Guns N' Roses, "in a couple of places we've been a couple of minutes early. It's really amazing."

At the stadium, O'Donovan says, "Everything is pretty upbeat. We're confident things will go well. We've been tracking them since they restarted in Phoenix and everything has been going smoothly. For us, obviously having set up the stage before, it gives it an advantage."

O'Donovan says the stadium will increase its normal level of security. ''What we hope to have," he says, "is a good concert, but our tolerance for any behavior that will impact the rest of fans is very limited."

The tour, which would have wrapped up Saturday if there had been no hitches, has 11 more dates after Foxborough.