Guns N' Roses

December 2, 2002 Fleet Center, Boston Ma

Axl's Tribute To GNR

I went to see Guns N' Roses (aka Guns and Poses) expecting to see a train wreck and hoping for the excitement of a riot but what I got was a great concert. I saw them back in their peak when they toured with Metallica in the early 90's and I swore I wouldn't see them again because of all of Axl's prima donna crap. But I am a sucker for hype so I did buy tickets. This shouldn't really be called GNR anymore since it has just one founding member - Axl Rose, backed up by a new band of seven - including the infamous Bucket Head. A guitarist who plays with a KFC bucket on his head, a mask covering his face and even sports a cape. It is more accurate to consider this band a fantastic Guns N' Roses tribute band.

Axl has a long history of starting shows late so we didn't bother rushing in. Caught the last couple songs of opener CKY (Camp Kill Yourself) which left no impression on me. Then came Mix Master Mike - the DJ for The Beastie Boys. It was pretty cool at the start when he was messing with some White Zombie, Rush, Disturbed and Zeppelin - but then it dissolved into some lame sort of Herbie Hancock show. He rescued his set by the end with some Metallica - and was promptly booed when he mixed out of the Metallica.

After an hour plus of girls showing their breasts - and everything else for that matter - for the cameras, the lights finally went down and the opening tease of "Welcome To The Jungle" was heard at 10:45pm and the place went absolutely nuts.

They played a solid two hour blistering set consisting of almost the entire Appetite for Destruction album. Axl caught a lot of flack for his recent appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards where he was often out of breath and singing poorly. But he rocked last night. He never stopped moving, running from side to side of the stage and doing all the patented Axl slithering dance moves. He never had any sort of tantrum and sounded surprisingly strong. He was smiling and laughing often and poked jokes at himself referring to his reputation of being quite an ass hole and even spoofed his own moves by breaking into the Curly Shuffle at one point. But I must say his face looks pretty bizarre - it looks to me like his hole head is just plastic. Maybe he is trying to turn himself into Michael Jackson. He started the night in a Red Sox shirt and changed into Celtics and Bruins attire before the night was through. But "Hello Axl"! The Patriots are world champs - show them a little love next time.

The stage was a very cool three tiered set with multiple video screens, mega pyro and a very cool "bullet-time" photo setup like in the Matrix. The front center of the stage had a semi-circle of track that housed a moving camera that allowed moments to be frozen in time and shown from multiple angles. Have never seen this used outside of a movie before -- very cool.

Set List
Welcome To The Jungle, It's So Easy, Mr. Brownstone, Live And Let Die, Madagascar, Think About You, You Could Be Mine, Robin Finck Solo, Sweet Child O' Mine, Knockin' On Heaven's Door, Out Ta Get Me, Axl Piano Solo, November Rain, Rocket Queen, Buckethead Nun Chuk/Alien-Robot Dance, and guitar solo featuring the theme from Star Wars, My Michelle, The Blues, Chinese Democracy, Patience, Nightrain, (Encore) Paradise City.

' - AF Grant

Guns N' Roses misfire in a show that lacks the power of the past

By Steve Morse, Boston Globe Staff, 12/4/2002

Guns N' Roses, you say? No way. This was not the Guns N' Roses of yore. This was just singer Axl Rose with a backup band. Call it Axl Rose and Guns for Hire. These guys were more like a show band, still going through the songs but denuded of the power that made the real Guns one of the most menacing, most edgy groups on the road back in the late '80s and early '90s.

Monday night's show for 12,700 fans at the FleetCenter was competent in a way that tribute bands are competent, but the stench of manufactured, plastic hard rock was distressing and often shameful. And that's without my even seeing the whole set, because Rose's prima-donna ways caused him to delay going on until 10:45 p.m. That's right: He and his band of hires started at a time when most bands are finishing up.

The delays were inexcusable. Rose reportedly arrived late to the venue. And he didn't deign to go on, apparently, until he felt like it. That has often happened with Guns N' Roses in the past (the band once went on at the Worcester Centrum at 11 p.m.), but that was back when it was worth waiting for, back when it had a swagger because of members such as Slash, Izzy Stradlin, and Duff McKagan, all of whom are now gone. The most essential was Slash, who is in Rose's doghouse so much that he was reportedly barred from even attending a faux-Guns show last year. Sorry, but Guns N' Roses without Slash is like the Rolling Stones without Keith Richards.

Disgusted fans streamed to the exits last night. ''This is insane. I liked Guns N' Roses in the '80s, but I'm a 30-something mother with children now, and I have a baby sitter who's waiting up late,'' said Milton resident Sheryl Antoniewicz.

Guns N' Roses opened with a high point, ''Welcome to the Jungle,'' but Rose blew the moment by wearing a Red Sox jersey (the Celtics call the FleetCenter ''the Jungle,'' but it was left to opener Mix Master Mike to wear a Celtics shirt). And then came unexceptional versions of ''It's So Easy'' and ''Mr. Brownstone,'' a song about heroin that was devoid of the chills of old. Rose might as well have been singing about Mr. Milquetoast.

Rose is a great singer when he wants to be, but he has no cool. After just three Guns N' Roses tunes, he started pulling out cover songs, including Paul McCartney's ''Live and Let Die'' and Bob Dylan's ''Knockin' on Heaven's Door,'' which the real Guns used to save for later in their sets. And Rose was even seen standing by a teleprompter for the Dylan song. Although there were moments when the band came to life, this was a paint-by-numbers show.

Opening act CKY played lumbering, faceless hard rock, but Mix Master Mike was a blast, layering fast-paced scratches over classic rock tunes. He was a bright spot in an otherwise needlessly drawn-out evening.

with Mix Master Mike and CKY
At: The Fleet Center, Monday night

This story ran on page E6 of the Boston Globe on 12/4/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

AF Grant's 2002 Concerts


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