Guns N' Roses - The Forum - 12/21/11
Timothy Norris "Do you know where you are?"
*Our slideshow of the concert
*True Story: Axl Once Threatened To Skip A Concert, So Barry Fey Got His Gun
*Tommy Stinson Interview: Guns N' Roses' Bassist Compares Axl Rose And Paul Westerberg
*Top 20 Hair Metal Albums Of All Time: The Complete List
Axl Rose aims to please. This may sound surprising after decades of rumor and Behind the Music testimony, but he was on his best behavior at the Forum last night. Rose led his contemporary version of Guns 'N Roses through exactly three hours of intense melody and noise, adding up to nearly three-dozen songs and lengthy instrumental interludes.
A little less might have meant a little more, but no one could say the man wasn't working hard to deliver everything he had by the time the show finally ended at 2 a.m.
It began with the grinding, churning metal riff of "Chinese Democracy," a reminder that the band continues to tour behind the 2008 album of the same name which -- completed after 15 years and millions of Geffen dollars -- is still the only new music to come from GN'R this millennium. But soon Rose was shrieking "Do you know where you are?" to the stuttering guitar of DJ Ashba, re-enacting the stormy sounds of "Welcome to the Jungle."
Timothy Norris Guitarist DJ Ashba, mid-riff
The tune still sounded great, as did all the old GNR classics, delivered with all the fire and finesse of the originals. The current band isn't quite the motley gathering of gifted if ill-fitting players (remember Buckethead?) that debuted onstage in Las Vegas a decade ago. They were a cohesive unit of ace players and performed the old songs as well as they'd ever been played. "Civil War" was an epic from the band's middle-years, beginning with the sampled Strother Martin dialogue from Cool Hand Luke against a sound spooky and atmospheric as Rose whistled and wailed into the microphone.
But as close as the current band might be behind the scenes at this point, onstage they were clearly sidemen to the guy up front. Rose and GN'R can still fill a big room, but the original band's staggering legacy is something he works to embrace and to overcome. Speaking with Randall Roberts of the LA Times, Rose actually sounded open to the idea of a short reunion with the original GN'R at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year.