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