I literally bought a ticket to Guns‘n’Roses last week, thinking this may be the last opportunity to see them live. This is certainly the case as I’d not wish to go through the ‘experience’ again.
The LG Arena is fairly busy early on, and at approximately 7.30 the lights dim for tonight’s support, Sebastian Bach. I’ve seen this chap before when he was in Skid Row at some outdoor show, and to be fair I didn’t rate him then. Nothing appears to have changed. The start seems to have caught a fair few out as the first twenty minutes are played to a half-full arena.
Sebastian Bach squeals, shakes his head, says “Birming-Ham” a lot, “where heavy metal was founded” and swears incessantly. In fact if I had a quid for every expletive I’d get my ticket price back, which wouldn’t be a bad thing. He plays a couple of Skid Row tracks and these go down quite well with those who’ve now entered to catch the last twenty minutes. He leaves at 8.30.
Then the wait begins! Prior to coming I’d read other reviews of UK shows, and they don’t make for happy reading. Constant lateness appears to be the order of the day, and the Dublin show was by all accounts a nightmare from start to finish. However, trying to be opened-minded and positive I sit and wait. And wait. The arena still has swathes of empty seats, but there is a recession on and the cheapest seats are £45 with the usual booking fee, and of course the habitual rip-off of £8 to park.
At 9.50, the house lights remain on, and dismal house music continues and the boos ring out. I can honestly say, in seeing gigs for 29 years I’ve never experienced a paying crowd booing prior to the main act coming on-stage and then at 9.55 the lights go down.
Opening with ‘Chinese Democracy’ this isn’t so much Guns ‘n’ Roses as Axl Rose with a group of musicians. They can play, don’t get me wrong, but the guitarist DJ Ashba seems to have gone a bit too far in trying to copy Slash. During a solo he even slouches, in his leather hat, smoking a cigarette for maximum effect. The opener is loosely received but ‘Welcome to the jungle’ really gets the crowd going, followed by ‘It’s so easy’ and then ‘Mr Brownstone’.
Axl himself disappears throughout to the back of the stage, during songs, during solos, only to re-appear often in a change of t-shirt, jacket and head attire. This ranges from hats to a bandana, but the most ridiculous attire is the village-people-esque moustache he’s wearing. It’s not Movember yet! However the most ridiculous hat is saved for ‘Sweet child of mine’, think white over-sized floppy Stetson and you’re getting close.
The vocals are as to be expected, but on ballads this is really a time to thank your earplugs and ‘Live and let die’ really doesn’t deserve such treatment. It is well documented about the ridiculous time the ‘Chinese Democracy’ album took to make, and the constant changes in personnel. It didn’t set the world on fire as expected and the live show is the same. As the clock approaches 11.00 a good amount of people begin to leave, no doubt governed by the time of the last train home. As ‘Sweet child’ ends I too have heard enough. Mr Rose may think he’s still a rock diva, arriving late and not giving a toss about his audience, but I would suggest the vast majority of the crowd work (how else would you be able to afford such high ticket prices) and I for one have to be up at six for work on Monday morning. So I leave early, which looking at the set-list from previous dates is about half-way through the set.
At the car-park a few others have had the same idea. I’d like to pick out a few positives and end on a positive note, but I can’t as there aren’t any. A complete waste of time and money.
Welcome to the jungle
It’s so easy
James Bond Theme (solo)
Live and Let Die
This I Love
Ziggy Stardust (solo)
Street of Dreams
You could be mine
Ballad of Death (solo)
Sweet child of mine
(the remainder of the set can be found on the internet)
Review – Glenn Raybone