posted on November 20, 2012 10:09
Las Vegas - People have opinions on bands. Not everyone has an opinion on a band.
Unless that band is Guns N' Roses.
July 2nd, 1991, GnR played Riverport Amphitheater and during the 15th song in the set (Rocket Queen), frontman Axl Rose jumped into the crowd to confiscate a camera from a fan taking pictures.
GnR would never come back to St. Louis, sans some court appearances, where I shit you not, the band was pissed for "not enforcing drinking limits and letting fans pelt them with beer bottles and brandish weapons".
St. Louis. Fuck YEAH!
Since my parents weren't exactly keen on going to rock concerts when I was in 5th grade, I'd have to wait until this past weekend before the opportunity presented itself to see GnR again.
It so happened to be at the Hard Rock. In Las Vegas. If you're going to do GnR, you DO GnR.
A couple things I need to preface this review with.
1) I know this isn't REALLY GnR without Slash. But it's a better impersonation than a Slash show could be without Axl. Like it or not, when you're in the arena, it feels like a GnR show.
2) I still enjoy GnR hits unironically. Maybe Axl and Co have made music that is relevant to a small sliver of diehard fans over the past 15 years. But to the populous as a whole, GnR is a cover band covering GnR. I wanted the hits. The 'new' songs might have been good. I happened to use them to piss and get beer.
Playing the Hard Rock venue "The Joint", we knew that curtains at 10:00 weren't going to happen. But the bartender letting us know that 11:45 was more likely saved us a couple hours of seat time.
Why is this important? Because GnR played for 3 1/2 fucking hours, that's why. If you got in the show @ 10p, you were there for 5+ hours. That's a long time anywhere. It's a lifetime in Vegas.
They opened with "Chinese Democracy" and it mad me a sad panda. Would we get 5 hits? Less than 5? What have I gotten myself into.
"Welcome to the Jungle" followed and all was well in the world.
But let's take a minute and talk about Axl for a second. Because Axl Rose isn't a great singer. He's probably not even a good one. His voice is weird and now that he's 50, more pitchy than ever.
But Axl Rose is a fucking ROCKSTAR. You literally can't take your eyes off of him. When he's on the stage, he owns the stage. My buddy literally leaned over to me and asked when the strippers came on to the side of the stage an starting dancing on poles.
I didn't notice strippers coming on to the stage.
That's when you're a rockstar. You usurp strippers. That's the new litmus test.
Axl's also got a real odd tic, where he leaves the stage at least 3 times per song. Sometimes for 2 minutes. Sometimes literally 2 seconds. He can't be doing drugs every single time, so this has to be something he does. (Maybe he did this early in his career to?)
"November Rain", "Mr. Brownstone", "Don't Cry", "Live and Let Die"...all before the encore.
They covered "Another Brick in the Wall P2", "Knocking on Heaven's Door"... before the encore.
Let it be know that when Axl Rose shows up to play, he doesn't cheat you. You know, unless you're the guy he stopped in the middle of a song to throw out for "being lame".
Yes. A small part of me wanted another riot so I could be there for this one. Alas, he went back at it pretty quick after the house lights went back down.
Neil Yong and AC/DC covers highlighted the encore with Patience and Paradise City bringing us home. Pretty much every song had a 5 minute guitar solo, like it or not.
Friends, this was a really good show. All the GnR hits were played.Some surprising covers were unspooled. People partied like it was 1991.
But I can't help but think that Hard Rock missed the opportunity to reign in Axel and create one of the seminal shows in Las Vegas. Cut an hour of the filler off this show and you have a concert that can't be beat. But letting GnR do whatever the hell they want leads to a meandering set that leads to the situation I was in...
By the time 3:30a rolled around, in our group of 10, only 3 of us remained.
When you're in Vegas, ahem... Patience is at a premium. For the most part GnR was worth it.
Grade: B+ (Need to cut 1hr of songs, limit guitar solos and start closer to ticketed time)
SETLIST: Guns N' Roses @ The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, NV (11/17/12)
Welcome to the Jungle
It's So Easy
Richard Fortus Guitar Solo (Blacklight Jesus of Transylvania)
Live and Let Die (Wings cover)
This I Love
Better (stopped and restarted so … more)
Motivation (Tommy Stinson song) (Tommy Stinson on lead vocals, … more)
Dizzy Reed Piano Solo (No Quarter by Led Zeppelin)
Catcher in the Rye
Street of Dreams
You Could Be Mine
DJ Ashba Guitar Solo (Mi Amor)
Sweet Child O' Mine
Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 (Pink Floyd cover) (with Axl on piano)
Objectify (Bumblefoot cover) (Bumblefoot on lead vocals)
The Seeker (The Who cover)
Knockin' on Heaven's Door (Bob Dylan cover)
Don't Let It Bring You Down (Neil Young cover)
Whole Lotta Rosie (AC/DC cover)