Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal CityWalk, Universal City, CA
December 17th 2007

Guns N' Roses in Los Angeles
- by Ravinder

3 Nights of Guns

The lights went dim, the guitars started playing those oh-so-familiar, echoey notes--the intro to “Welcome to the Jungle”. From the darkness, an unmistakable voice shrieks, “You know where the fuck you are?!!”

So began three nights…errr…rather mornings of Guns N’ Roses in Los Angeles. The bill included Suicide Girls, Helmet, Sebastian Bach and Guns N’ Roses. Each night, Guns hit the stage around 11:45 pm and played until about 2:15 in the morning.

My very first concert ever was Skid Row and Guns N’ Roses, so these shows definitely took me back to that era and that same unbridled enthusiasm and excitement. But times they have a changed. In case you’ve been in a coma (a song the didn’t do!) for the last several years, I’ll fill you in on the current line-up. Singer Axl Rose is the only original member of Guns N’ Roses left in the band. Keyboardist Dizzy Reed has been with the band since 1990. The newer additions to the band are guitarists Robin Finck (Nine Inch Nails) and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, rhythm guitarist Richard Fortus, bassist Tommy Stinson (The Replacements), drummer Frank Ferrer (Love Spit Love, Psychedelic Furs) and keyboardist Chris Pitman.

Axl’s voice sounded very reminiscent of the voice we all know. He’s in shape, looks great and had immense energy throughout the two and a half hour sets. He ran all over the stage and commanded the audience’s attention, as only Axl Rose can. Lead guitarist Robin Finck looked like a man possessed, yet played so soulfully.

The other new guns seemed to be having a great time on stage and were very energetic and skilled. You could feel the cycle of the crowd feeding off the band’s energy and the band feeding off the crowd’s.

The three nights were full of excitement and fun entertainment. Most everything that went wrong was taken in stride and laughed off. The drums were briefly smoking one night--literally smoking, as roadies quickly put out a small fire caused by the sparklers coming down; Robin took a spill and landed flat on his back, only to quickly get up and then be attacked by Axl’s flying mic stand; Axl took a stumble down the stairs coming down from the platform where the drums and keyboards were set up, but he didn’t miss a beat and was trying not to laugh as he finished performing the rest of the song.

For all those curious as to who showed up at the Los Angeles Guns N’ Roses shows, spotted were Danny Bonaduce, Ron Jeremy, Luc Robitaille, Lonn Friend, Paul Gargano, Rudy Sarzo, KNAC’s own Junkman and of course, the usual cast of LA characters.

Sebastian Bach joined Axl for a duet of “My Michelle”--very fun to see both these amazing frontmen sharing the same stage and song. A big highlight of these shows was to see original guitarist and songwriter Izzy Stradlin join the band for parts of the last hour of the shows. His style was exactly the same as it was when I first saw the band in 1991--very unassuming, mellow and humble, yet with such a presence that he demanded your attention and respect. It was nice to see him get the audience appreciation I’m sure he didn’t receive as much of back when he was sharing the stage with Slash.

Izzy joining the band on stage made me wonder what many fans have been speculating about and yearning for for years. Reunion. I can see it happening sometime, but it would have to be under such extreme circumstances. I’m sure it would be very short-lived, but much appreciated by the fans. Hatchets would have to be buried (or at least temporarily covered by kicked-in dirt), Axl would have to relinquish the full control over the band he currently has, and egos would have to be put aside. For now, though, it seems this new GN’R is doing well and the former Guns have all moved on as well (three of whom are in the Grammy-winning band, Velvet Revolver). There’s no need right now for all of them to consider a reunion. Look at it as getting more material from several talented musicians. Hopefully we’ll have the completed Chinese Democracy in our hands come March.