:: Guns N Roses ::
:: 1st Bank Center :: December 11, 2011 ::
By Brandon Daviet
So first, before reviewing last night’s Guns and Roses show, allow me to take license to expound my take on the saga that’s been GNR.
First I’m a GNR diehard, a fan of the band and Axl Rose no matter what. Seriously I even had a good, drama-free friend pass on my extra ticket because my defense of Axl Rose and Co. can get to the same heated level as a dedicated Broncos can when critiquing the Raiders. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the unequivocal passion that many people hold for the original lineup and won’t deny the chemistry of the original lineup is still beyond description. Still I really believe that lineup had to break up for the band survive, thrive and reach their current configuration. I am in a minority to be sure, because the popular opinion seems to be that GNR died long ago. Last night’s show at The 1st Bank center is my justification that the majority does not, in this case, rule.
I think a reviewer of few words would say that overall the show was a successful mix of old and new songs topped off by a killer stage show and probably throw out a side note that their last studio album Chinese Democracy took something like 13 years to complete.
That’s’ true but there’s always several subplots when dealing with Axl and his band of merry men. The first of these snafu’s apparently being that GNR’s massive pyrotechnic display wouldn’t fit in the comparatively small 1st Bank Center and hence the fire department forced seat relocations. It seems this resulted in a seat upgrade and floor access for most the people I overheard commenting on it. At least there wasn’t a riot, a perfect example of how time can change things.
The second drama point of the evening was the band’s late start time (10:45) especially with it being a Sunday night in the Mile High City and many people having to work the next morning. Late starts are something that has always been a misunderstood reality of the band’s past and has added to the criticism of Axl Rose. Tonight was no different judging from the often skeptical pre-show bathroom and beer-line eavesdropping.
That said the verdict, judging from the crowd’s response and post-show eavesdropping, was that all was forgiven. At 10:45 sharp the theme to Dexter put the crowd on alert as the band burst into the relatively new “Chinese Democracy” and the classic “Welcome to the Jungle,” both guitar riff monsters. Both songs that own-well deserved spots as the opening tracks on “Chinese Democracy” and “Appetite for Destruction” respectively. Dropped jaws, reaffirmed fandom and devil horn salutes multiplied through the crowd as the band slammed through “It’s So Easy” and the traditional early set classic “Mr. Brownstone” with a combination of swagger and precision that the original lineup frankly never had.
The current lineup consists of three guitarists with the most prolific being newcomer DJ Ashba who was initially viewed by many fans as an odd choice. That said Ashaba has quickly proved himself a worthy addition to the trio that has made their own playground of the riffs made famous by the original duo of Slash and Izzy Stradlin with his upbeat presence. The second guitarist Richard Fortus (ex-Psychedelic Furs) is no slouch either and his longstanding guitar solo/cover of the James Bond theme rivaled many GNR originals. While the band wouldn’t have the same magic without any of the current axe-slingers the heir to Slash’s throne is easily Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal. While digesting the name Bumblefoot, and keeping in mind the guitarist Buckethead was once in the band, one can’t help but ponder the that one name guitarists are the ace up GNR’s sleeve. Dizzy Reed, who is second only to Axl Rose in terms of membership length, handled keyboards and slammed out a killer instrumental of the Who’s “Baba O’Riley” during his solo slot. Bashing skins this tour is the sparse yet effective Frank Ferrer who is a welcome addition over former drummer Matt Sorum and nowhere near as unpredictable as original member Steven Adler. Ferrer is also a reminder that when the band’s not being featured on TMZ that’s a blessing. And last but not least is bassist Tommy Stinson who not only replaced Duff McKagen but was also a replacement, as in the band The Replacements.
And that, folks, is your 2011 Guns and Roses lineup and merits such detail as it is almost always one of the first questions asked by those that thought GNR had dropped off the face of the earth long ago. Oh yeah, did I mention Axl Rose on vocals?
To really cement their place as the new, hopefully permanent, lineup of GNR the band played a roughly three hour and fifteen minute set and that is not a typo, but now fact. The set list really has to be seen to be believed but practically every hit the band had was played with “Estranged” and “Civil War” being highlights as well as recently new additions to the set. The ballads like “Sweet Child O’Mine” and “November Rain” were also in attendance with “Don’t Cry (Org. Lyrics)” appearing as well. The song had initially appeared as a Bumblefoot guitar solo/melody and has been nursed back to it complete state. Also of note is the newer ballad “This I Love” that may qualify as the best showcase of Axl Rose’s voice in the band’s arsenal. Other highlights included the timeless “Rocket Queen” a double shot of AC/DC covers, “Whole Lotta Rosie” and “Riff Raff” The award for the most energetic song of the night goes to the “You Could Be Mine” and the careful observer might have noticed the Terminator 2 video game in the venue’s hallway, being that the song was recorded for the movies soundtrack it was a cool bit of nostalgia. On the newer side many songs from 2008’s Chinese Democracy were included and the percentage of fans frowning at the selections has dropped to almost non-existence with yells of “Slash” being the only discernable heckle. (While Chinese Democracy was released in 2008, some of the songs from that album have been played live for around a decade).
In the end this reviewer could continue writing a glowing review of the show that would be as long as the show itself and still not do it justice. This is the GNR show that Colorado fans wanted, needed and badly deserved after the bands lengthy hiatus from the state. The bottom line is Axl Rose is un-replaceable, the original lineup is unforgettable, but if there is a way to match it Axl Rose is very close, if not dead on, to the solution. G’n’F’nR’s!!!
Welcome To The Jungle
It’s So Easy
Sonic Reducer (Dead Boys cover) (Tommy Stinson on lead vocals)
Live and Let Die (Paul McCartney & Wings cover)
This I Love
Street Of Dreams
You Could Be Mine
Sweet Child O’ Mine
Whole Lotta Rosie (AC/DC cover) (with Zakk Wylde)
Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan cover)