Monday, November 14, 2011

Guns N' Roses tore up the Sprint Center Saturday night

GNR brought their raw rock to downtown.

Posted By on Mon, Nov 14, 2011 at 10:56 AM


Better than: Seeing Paradise City, KC's own GN'R tribute band, perform at the P&L.

In the early '90s, music video director Andy Morahan cemented the image of Guns N' Roses in videos for songs on the band's Use Your Illusions I and II albums. Incredibly sexy, pouty women surrounded the shirtless Sunset Strip staples. Grand pianos, sprawling stark-white mansions, and Hollywood Hills car crashes further elevated the band's excessive persona while shots of babies emerging from holy water and a swim with dolphins helped personify the demons that lay within the mind of one W. Axl Rose.

And since then, maybe we've lost a little faith in Axl Rose. Slash was out, Buckethead was in. An unlisted Charles Manson cover was included on The Spaghetti Incident?. Axl dropped out of public life and holed up in Malibu. Axl got cornrows. And then there was the delayed release of Chinese Democracy.

We'll probably never know exactly what went wrong. And in the end, it's a blip on the radar — the surprisingly medium-sized crowd that came out to the Sprint Center on Saturday night to see the latest incarnation of GN'R do a two-and-a-half-hour-plus set couldn't have cared less.

Beginning right around 11 p.m., the theme song to Dexter came on. GN'R entered a stage ablaze in pyrotechnics and flanked by a large hand and an image of a man who looked more like Buddha than Chairman Mao. "Chinese Democracy" was in full effect. And it was really, really loud.

In a far cry from the ragtag, dub-tee outfits of yesteryear, Axl was dressed more like an old beekeeper than a rock star. A red bandanna hung from his back pocket, and instead of whole outfit changes, Axl would intermittently switch hats when he would take "breaks" from the stage. (It's rumored that he huffs oxygen regularly during his show.)

Now a seven-piece with three guitarists, GN'R sounds just as good as it did during the height of its success. However, there were gratuitous solos by Tommy Stinson (former Replacements bassist), Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal and DJ Ashba, each musician exhibiting a Guitar World wet-dream wizardry, while perhaps giving Rose more time for air. It got to be a little much, especially toward the end. It would have pleased me greatly if they had cut three minutes of all that and just played "Yesterdays" instead.

Thankfully, Rose kept his bitch-slap rappin' to a minimum. Songs from Chinese Democracy were sprinkled throughout, and all the hits were covered. "Welcome to the Jungle," "Live and Let Die" and "Sweet Child o' Mine" were obviously crowd-pleasers. The woman in front of me danced lasciviously throughout the show.

From what I could see, Rose showed few signs of fatigue. It seemed that his signature screech faltered at times and was a little off during "Mr. Brownstone," but the man was all over the stage, running back and forth, spinning around and doing that dance move he's been doing since the '80s — the one where it looks like he's trying to get dog shit off his shoe.

I believe it was around 1:30 a.m. when the drumbeats to "Paradise City" began. Many had already left before the encore started. Punctuated by heavy, golden, sparklerlike pyrotechnics and the booming of confetti cannons, the crowd got the end of what it came for: the first local performance by an arena-rock god since 1988. On the floor, women danced and shook their titties under the litter of red streams of confetti. It was beautiful. And it was all worth it.

Personal Bias: Though DJ Ashba is the new-millenium Slash, he'll never, ever be as cool.
Random Detail: Leopard print is just as fucking ugly now as it was in the '80s.
By the way: I ditched my shitty GA ticket for a seat waaaaaay in the back.

Set List

1. Chinese Democracy
2. Welcome to the Jungle
3. It's So Easy
4. Mr. Brownstone
5. Sorry
6. Better
7. Estranged
8. Riff Raff (AC/DC cover)
9. Live and Let Die
10. This I Love
11. Rocket Queen
12. My Generation (Who cover/Tommy Stinson solo)
13. Street of Dreams
14. You Ain't the First
15. You Could Be Mine
16. DJ Ashba guitar solo
17. Sweet Child o' Mine
18. Another Brick in the Wall
19. Axl Rose piano solo
20. November Rain
21. Theme to Pink Panther (Bumblefoot guitar solo)
22. Don't Cry
23. Whole Lotta Rosie (AC/DC cover)
24. Knockin' On Heaven's Door
25. Nightrain

Encore
1. Madagascar
2. Patience
3. Paradise City

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