Moline - The Mark Arena

17th 2002
Guns n Roses concert review


Moline Concert Review

By Tim Seward


-Beyond all of the explosions, lights and buckets, Guns N’ Roses blitzed The Mark of the Quad Cities and the 7,000-plus fans at the show got a glimpse of what could be the best rock tour of the decade.

What you could hear of it would certainly justify that.

While songs like “Paradise City” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine” were spectacular sonically, other songs featured nearly inaudible vocals from lead singer Axl Rose. The result was a mixed experience of frustration, elation and jubilation.

Axl was off and then he was on. During “You Could be Mine,” he had security remove two fans from in front of the stage (shouting at security “They’re right f----- in front of you” two times). As a result, he forgot where he left off, ruining one of the band’s best songs.

And, despite two visible teleprompters on the stage, Axl blew the opening verse of “My Michelle” (apparently Daddy doesn’t work in porno now that Mommy’s not around anymore).


But, if there’s any musician who can overcome obstacles like that to deliver a strong performance, it’s Axl Rose, and he didn't let those things stand in the way. Redeeming qualities were a long set list and miraculously prompt starting time; Guns N’ Roses played for nearly two hours and actually got on stage at a relatively decent hour, hitting the stage just before 10 p.m.

It would be easier to say what songs they didn’t play from “Appetite for Destruction.” (Those would be the back-to-back songs “You’re Crazy” and “Anything Goes.”) The band blistered into a trio of “Appetite” songs to open the gig, including a stellar yet vocally-challenged version of “Welcome to the Jungle.” The opener just cut the place to shreds as everyone was cheering and going nuts when guitarist Buckethead let off a few licks of the song after the lights went down.

Axl’s voice cut in and out during the song, but it didn’t seem to matter much with “Jungle” because it is one of those great rock anthems that would still kick butt if Neil Diamond was on vocals and John Fogelberg was on guitar.

Traces of inaudibility were found in the next two songs, “It’s So Easy” and “Mr. Brownstone,” but those were forgiven by the constant fervor of the band jumping around onstage, the adrenaline rush the crowd was experiencing and the raw power of the background music.

But those same problems didn’t bode well with other songs in the set.

“Rocket Queen” was a sonic mess. Axl’s voice was very difficult to hear behind the large backup band, featuring three guitarists, two keyboardists, a drummer and a bassist. It wasn’t until the second part of the song before you could really hear what he was singing.

“Live and Let Die” was an upgrade to sonic confusion although the pyrotechnics helped out and “Think About You,” one of the few weak songs GN’R has produced, should have been left out.

GN’R atoned for those sins with perfect versions of “Paradise City,” Buckethead’s solo, “Night Train,” “Chinese Democracy” and “November Rain” “November Rain” was a beautiful and poignant highlight. Axl sat at his baby grand, front and center, and put his soul into one of the greatest songs, lyrically, ever written. Axl’s scratchy voice is such a perfect compliment to the gorgeous piano chords accompanying him. And the band pulled off the thunderous ending with perfect precision.

It’s hard to know how precise “Chinese Democracy” was since the song hasn’t been released yet, but it was outstanding. If the title cut is a prelude to the quality and musicianship of the forthcoming album (last rumored to be due in February), Guns N’ Roses fans are in for a treat.

I’m not a big fan of “Night Train,” but what a great live song. That song was one of the most overplayed in the GN’R repertoire, but I now have a new-found respect for it. It was one of the few spots in the concert where everyone on stage just seemed like they were having as much fun as the people in the stands.

How do you replace a top-notch guitarist like Slash? You recruit another great axe-wielder. Buckethead is just as talented as he is strange. He did his customary nunchukus routine before going into a gifted guitar solo that included music from “Star Wars.” Afterwards, he passed out rubber chickens to a few lucky fans. Of course, for a guy who dons a Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket on his head, you wouldn't expect him to throw out guitar picks, would you?

If Axl’s voice had been horrendous for every song prior to the encore, “Paradise City,” the concert still would have been worth the price of admission. “Paradise” was beyond words. Axl was right on, the band was as precise as they could possibly be and the pyrotechnics were a perfect compliment.

Axl Rose forces his energy on to people and if you didn’t feel it by the time you walked out of the venue, you probably were there for the opening act, Mix Master Mike. Can someone please tell me what in the hell a DJ is doing opening up a rock concert? I think I would rather have had Michael Bolton or Jamariqi take the stage than someone playing prerecorded music and screwing it up, on purpose.

DJ’s are for clubs. While I’m sure Mike is a gifted record playing … scratcher person, he was a HUGE, HUGE disappointment.

What little I heard of CKY sounded good, and at least they played rock and roll.
Thanks to Tim Seward

June 17, 2006 10:12:17 AM