I wrote a 3 part blog for my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/glamslaminc) on my quick 24 hour-ish trip to Vegas to witness once again, “The World’s Most Dangerous Band”. Now that tagline as been used over and over from everyone from The Rolling Stones to N.W.A., but back in the day, Guns N Roses really were! You wanted the review, well to bad, this is what ya get…
We actually had to be over at the arena to take advantage our VIP package that was well overpriced, but well worth it. Our buddy Tom had to take one on the chin as he was only able to buy floor seat before the show. Now HE really overpaid, got the ticket and none of the fun OR did he get off easy?
We were ushered backstage to a room not unlike catering. There was food and beverage, we were given most of the tchotchkes that were included in the price. I graciously passed on the “onstage” picture…dumb. I only bought the ticket because THAT was what was available when they went on sale and I wasn’t sitting in a seat in an arena that would dampen my mood to rock out of my mind. All a part of the experience Eddie…
By the time Alice in Chains took the stage, we met a nice couple who had some “connections” at the arena and asked us to keep the party rolling at the semi-private bar. We told them about Tom and they said the more the merrier. SOMEHOW they also knew that Guns would NOT be taking the stage till closer to midnight and not the “rumoured” 11 pm start time. Damned if they weren’t right, I need to up my rumor connections.
2 of my 4 friends were experiencing their first GnR show, probably better than my daughter got to experience in 2002, but only time would tell. We exchanged stories and meetings of the band with our two new friends and best hosts EVER. They too had met the band at their earliest like me and also had experienced every possible version of the band as I did. They happened to be at two of the most insane shows, St. Louis (the riot) AND Castle Donnington (where a fan was sadly killed in the crowd). My buddies were mesmerized that we got to see so much over the course of 50 plus years of stunted maturity by making concerts our JOB.
This being Vegas we started betting on the opening song. Just goes to show no matter how big of a fan you are, you ain’t gonna be able to predict a GnR show. I bet they’d come out with “Welcome to the Jungle”, the others picked “Nightrain” and “Chinese Democracy”. Though the Troubadour show clearly showed the true opener in “IT’s So Easy.” WHICH we should have guessed since A.) It was done a few days early and B) Duff used it as the title to his autobiography, thus showing Axl’s sense of humour. So whilst no winners, there were no losers and that includes the sold out crowd.
I’m not going to bore you with all the goings on during the show with us, though there were many. We didn’t have anyone go down for the count from too much swallowing of the devil’s nectar. Believe me, being a drunkard is easy, being a drinker takes stamina. Though none of us could win a marathon running, we could if it consisted of drinking. Even our hosts looked at us as if we were never going to be permitted to have another drink after tonight. Though security was pretty tight, Jeb was able to get about 750 mil of Jägermeister in with him…thank you JEB!!!
Though we were teased with the GUNS, AND, ROSES flashing on the screens, we knew it was just that, tease. By the way, if you don’t see the lights dim by the time you’re on your second chorus of yelling, “Guns…and…Roses” just stop, it sounds forced.
Close to, if not actually midnight, the screens lit up, the lights dimmed and the into began. No it wasn’t your daddy’s “IF YOU WANTED THE BEST, WELL THEY DIDN’T SHOW…” intro. The tape began rolling with the house lights down (and too many damn cell phones lit up), at the end of the intro taped song, it was Axl and something said I couldn’t make out until…” Good Evening welcome to the inaugural show” and BOOM!! IT’S SO EASY.
There they were not a light loogie in front of me…SLASH, DUFF and AXL. If you closed your eyes you could see the immobile Axl Rose strutting the stage as he did many decades before. But tonight he was sitting on Dave Grohl’s “broken leg” Throne (though there was a tarp over the back, when the back lighting hit it you could see faint strains of the “FF” logo). Holy shit the VOICE was dead ON!! The guitar was clearly SLASH and that bassline with DUFF the King of Beers McKAGAN!!! Now the fanboy in me will tell you right here, right now, I would have paid full ticket price just for this song performance alone! The BAND was sounding like the REAL Guns N Roses of yore.
The next song was Mr. Brownstone. Now I don’t care WHICH version of Guns N Roses you like, Steven Adler’s feel on that song can NOT be duplicated. Actually, ALL AfD songs can NOT get the groove that Steven put on those songs. His career was short in the grand scheme of things that a lot of GnR fans only have the album in which to judge and mostly only Matt Sorum or Frank (current drummer) in which to remember. Though I had heard rumour Mr. Adler was in fact in Vegas, there was no spotting of his presence nor mention of him missing from the stage. I’m gonna keep my hopes up none the less.
Now the third song, while not a surprise so much as being performed, there haven’t been any YouTube videos of it. Slash on CHINESES DEMOCRACY…holy hell, DJ, no disrespect, but Slash just schooled the shit out of every one EVER to pick up a 6 six string trying to replace Slash. The song itself while unfamiliar to a lot of the “old school” fans that didn’t even realize Axl and the “GnR” Mach IV even TOURED for the past 14 years or so.
Now this is where things start becoming a blur for me, not only because my liver was trying to tap out, but because this was just surreal as hell. Axl’s voice sounded amazing to this point. And asking, “DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU ARE?!” and that SCREAM just sent chills. Now all fanboy-dom aside, it could be that Axl was sitting and singing and not running around and losing his breath. Let’s face it, even he will agree that when he was 26 he didn’t figure on singing these songs at 54. Age is a son of a bitch no matter how good of shape you THINK you’re in, you still ain’t 26 homie.
The real treat was watching Axl when he WASN’T singing. He was just jamming the hell out and even may have played a little air guitar to Mr. Slash. At one point in the evening he even referred to his once long ago and at least for tonight, Gun’s brother Slash by saying, “It’s mean and it’s pissed off and it calls itself…SLASH!!!” Could Axl actually be enjoying this and not just the largely inflating bank account? I’m gonna go with YES on this…if we’ve learned nothing of Mr. Rose, we do in fact know that he doesn’t give a rat’s fat ass about what WE think, it’s on his terms or it’s off the table.
Tonight is OFF the charts however. By this blog’s end I will actually have to Google the set’s order, but for now it’s what I remember. The band dusted off “Double Talkin’ Jive” that frankly I didn’t care for until one of the infamous Axl Rants in France concerning not only “Warren Beatty” but also the mother**kers you can’t trust.
My favorite epic GnR songs in “Estranged” was done almost flawlessly. Some of the high notes while being hit, weren’t done with ease and there was NO, “on the keyboards, Mister..Dizzy REED!”. Dammit, speaking of which, again there were two keyboardists on stage, not bringing a whole lot of anything to the tunes. I know the keys thicken the songs, but again…TWO!? I’m fairly sure Dizzy Reed can handle the keys for GnR alone as Jon Lord did for Deep Purple or Ray Manzerek did with the Doors well before Guns N Roses.
“This I Love” from the Slash and Duff-less “Chinese Democracy” was the 2nd tune they did from the album. Now Axl did go a little “Mickey” on this tune, pitchy if you will. But it was Mr. Hudson with his guitar work that made this complete. AMAZING for a guy that had never played this song prior to prepping for the tour (unless Slash sat at home playing his guitar along to the record).
I knew they’d pull out “Live and Let Die” because it’s a “showcase” song for the lighting guy and the audience. I wasn’t much of a fan of that song when McCartney played it on the “Wings Over America” show that I had the pleasure of seeing.” For Guns to do that, I’m sure it’s expected but by and large not really appreciated. From my chatting with fans as I went to make a booze run, most would prefer a deep cut or another song in its place. After they finished that “L&LD” Axl actually thanked Dave Grohl for his chair telling us that he, as in Axl, really had nothing to do with it, it was all Mr. Foo Fighter guy.
The back to back 1-2 vocal punch of “Rocket Queen” and “You Could be Mine” came almost mid set. Now to sing those songs is brutal, to sing them back to back is damn near a miracle. Again as Axl sat and sang, he was dead on. It would have been more visually satisfying seeing Axl snake dance and stutter step to those tunes, but it actually highlighted the band and tightness of the newly reunited GnR.
Now with the introduction of this song, he said it was tonight’s happy song of sorts. Now the “happy song” is usually “Estranged” but THAT was already done, what was in store here? He did preface with “we’re gonna try something here…” and there was the familiar bass, drum, guitar of “COMA”!! The crowd’s jaws collectively dropped in disbelief. I know for a fact that only performed this song several times before tonight, one being the first time in 1991 at the Cleveland show that I saw. WOW! THIS was large for the fans and when he hit the “what the FUCK is going on…God DAMMIT” part the voice was intact and on freakin’ point.
Slash dusted off “The Godfather Theme” that has long been the beginning of “Sweet Child”. Again, for whatever reason, Axl struggles as much as I did on this song. It really isn’t that difficult, maybe he over thinks it the same way I do…I mean THIS is THE song of a generation of GnR fans and you don’t want to disappoint. So, you start mind humping yourself and struggle though. You know who didn’t struggle? Yea that guy…SLASH.
Holy crap it was now time for a THIRD “Chinese Democracy” song, “BETTER”. When I first heard this I always felt that Axl should have asked Rhianna to sing on this track with him. Not sure why, but it just sounded like it would have crossed over to radio had that happened. And again, Slash stepped into the batter’s box and took this one way over the fence.
Some more “epic” songs with “Civil War” that by all intents and purposes is just as meaningful in 2016 as it was back in the day. THIS should be TRUMP’S SONG! Mixed with “November Rain” where Axl had to get out of the thone and behind the grand piano. A beautifully done song, although Slash should have taken the lead and stood on the “Boss’s” piano instead of the drum riser for that epic guitar solo. Before they actually did the song and I’m assuming while they were getting Axl off the chair and prepping the grand piano, the band did a killer version of “Wish You Were Here” and a version of “Layla” that would have had Derek and the Dominos giving them a standing O.
Then a version of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” that blew away any other version they’d done since the beginnings. Again, the highlight…. Slash’s solo with that double neck guitar. Another thing to make you say, “WOO HOO”. Fortus also got props for his guitar work on “Knockin’” from Axl just before the sing along (that was actually taking place during the whole song from the throngs of drunken fans, yours truly and his smashed cohorts) and yes, there was a “little reggae” for ya too, though not called out by Mr. Rose…but the final part of the sing along? Axl nailed the scream completely 100%.
In there somewhere was The Damned cover tune “New Rose” which the title alone speaks volumes, at least in THIS lifetime.
The final song before the encores was the old GnR set opener (for the most part) “Nightrain”. Even though Axl’s wooden train whistle was non-existent, sounds of a real freight train horn were. The voice was starting to take a hit after 2 plus gruelling hours, but was still passable. Now this version of “Nightrain” seemed a little more like “flyin’ like an aeroplane” it was pretty damn kick ass. Did they take a page for “Appetite for Dysfunctions’ drummer, Wade Daniel-Slide Jr. and get a little bumped up before hand? Hahahahahaha
They band came back out to “Patience” with Slash really putting the beauty with his guitar on this particular performance. Finally the guitar intro of “Paradise City” and Christmas for freaks was ending. It was over before we knew it even started. 2:30 am and we were all still amp’d for more. Though Axl did go a little more “Mickey” on this song, it was still Paradise with Duff and Slash screaming across the stage. A thing of beauty. If this was their first, REAL show, it’s only gonna get better…or worse depending on the day of the week. LAS VEGAS..GOOD…F**KING…NIGHT!!!
Well, you wanted the best? Sadly, you were NOT disappointed cause you got it. Though the band came back out on stage to take their bows, there was no way to make it better. Sure there were songs they COULD have done for an additional encore (such as Dead Horse, which they are “supposed” to perform TONIGHT). As George Costanza said, “Always leave em wanting more Jerry!”
Here is the actual SETLIST from Last night, in order:
01. IT’S SO EASY
02. MR. BROWNSTONE
03. CHINESE DEMOCRACY
04. WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
05. DOUBLE TALKIN’ JIVE
07. LIVE AND LET DIE
08. ROCKET QUEEN
09. YOU COULD BE MINE
10. NEW ROSE
11. THIS I LOVE
13. SWEET CHILD O’ MINE (w/ Godfather solo)
15. CIVIL WAR
16. NOVEMBER RAIN (w/ Wish You Were Here & Layla solos)
17. KNOCKIN’ ON HEAVEN’S DOOR
20. PARADISE CITY
Sweet Lou. Hetzer