Guns 'N' Roses at the House of Blues Sunset, March 12, 2012

gnr miguel v.jpg
Miguel Vasconcellos/OC Weekly
Axl Rose at the Palladium last Friday
Guns 'N' Roses
House of Blues Sunset
March 12, 2012


Axl Rose's version of Guns 'N' Roses (he was the only original member of the band onstage last night) should've given me up and down and inside out goosebumps at the House of Blues on Sunset last night. The band played all the songs I've loved since I bought Appetite For Destruction on tape with my own money: "Mr. Brownstone," "You're Crazy," "Welcome to the Jungle." He played in a sold-out venue that housed 1300, max. Clad in a leather jacket and black, studded hat, Axl slid and snaked up and down the stage like he did as a young 'un, and he growl-whined and hit all the high notes properly. Despite all this, the show failed to grab me by the gut.
 

The show, which started shortly after midnight, lasted almost three hours. (Yes, at 2:15 a.m., GNR were still going strong). And for the most part, it was an experience not to be missed. Axl Rose was back on Sunset Strip--his old stomping grounds. It should've been legendary.  But it was mostly, it was like watching a movie remake of a favorite TV show (cough, 21 Jump Street, cough). There were vestiges of the real thing, and it's made to look and sound like the real thing, but it wasn't the real thing. (One of my favorite metaphysical moments of the night was the guitarist donned a hat and an unlit cigarette, ala Slash, to perform "Sweet Child O' Mine. Did that really happen? Yes, it did.)

The biggest reason for my disappointment was, obviously, because it wasn't really Guns 'N' Roses onstage--Rose is accompanied by a group of very accomplished musicians, and there were technically no low moments. There was GNR keyboardist Dizzy Reed, guitarists DJ Ashba, Richard Fortus and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, bassist Tommy Stinson, drummer Frank Ferrer and keyboardist Chris Pitman. But whatever illusion there was of GNR being a real band dissipated whenever Axl left the stage, leaving the rest of his bandmates the spotlight. They soloed magnificently, but they were solos built around famous rock & roll songs, such as "Teenage Wasteland" and "The Wall." It made it seemed like GNR's new members were part of the biggest cover band in the world. While all that instrumental fodder was going on, Axl left the stage to change his outfits (new leather jacket, new hats) or go to the bathroom.

The second biggest reason it was disappointing? Axl just doesn't seem badass enough anymore. Even when they brought Sebastian Bach onstage, it just...didn't stoke the fire. When Guns 'N' Roses were the biggest band in the world, he was the perfect frontman. Aggressive, entitled, mysterious and dangerous. Now, with bandmates who look half his age, who kind of look like his former (more famous) bandmates, and an audience more prone to checking in on their babysitters than ripping their shirts off and crowdsurfing, it seems the edge is gone. And this version of GNR seems more than ever like a parody of itself.

Critic's Bias: Appetite for Destruction was the first tape I ever bought with my own money.

The Crowd: Older, sedate, sleepy, boozy.

Overheard in the crowd:
(From a guy wearing a GNR shirt--yes, at the show!) "I've had this shirt since 1987. This is a classic!"

Random notebook dump:
I was positive I was standing beside Luke Wilson at the show until he got yelled at by the merch guy for touching the display. So maybe it wasn't him. Lana Del Rey was also at the show.





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10 comments
bobboliciouz
bobboliciouz

I am wondering if the author was at the show or has ever been to a concert before.  "... a guy wearing a GNR shirt -- yes, at the show!"  lmao 

Nikki
Nikki

Looks like you're another hater of the current GN'R line up. Predetermined to come up with a negative review. The new guys are excellent musicians and if you're willing to put your nostalgic feelings aside you'd be able to appreciate the great show. Axl with his magnetic presence and unshakable voice is still capable of delivering unforgettable show. Who cares what he is doing off stage . Like it or not he is still the best front man in the past 25 years and will remain iconic RR figure. We LOVE you AXL forever!!!

Soho_d J
Soho_d J

Your article sounds like it was written by a whiney child I strongly feel you were the wrong one for the job. This IS the new G n R and they will continue to be until it's all over. If you knew anything at all about music you'd know that the 'new' players (some have been in the band for over 10 years) are actually better musicians than the old ones, no slight to them but it gets tiring reading/hearing people especially writers whinge about the old days.

Ryan Chapman
Ryan Chapman

I was at the concert last night and I am wondering if you were at the same one as me.

They played from a few mins before 12, until nearly 330Am, During his Solo for Sweet child the cigarette wasn't not lit, it was lit, either you have poor eyesight or you are trying to make them look stupid for your blog.

I was up in the VIP section right offstage and from my view from the balcony, everyone was having a great time, the music sounded retarded and the new guys can shred, and Axl can still tear your ears out.

I have been to a lot of shows, (including the GNR show in December at a big venue) and this was one of the best.  Intimate and awesome.

Next time stay home, I am sure some others would have loved to take your spot on the floor.

AmyV727
AmyV727

I can pretty much say without doubt you were not at THAT show last night! Perhaps you were misguided and landed at another House of Blues venue? Or maybe you were asleep in the  lot across the street?  Because I haven't been to a gig that was so saturated with excitement and sheer fun positive vibes, and had that much fn fun since Paul McCartney brought me a microphone 10 years ago!  Guns N Roses the complete whole band of amazing musicians  I saw last night played 31/2 plus hours of perfection! I am still jazzed off all that good energy! I am so sorry dude but you missed the most amazing show! Even outside afterwards all anyone could talk about was how great it was, how good they played ,sang, n sounded! For me? I was thrilled to hear my ringtone 'Dead Flowers' what a nice surprise!  And I was especially happy to have finally seen Baz, n some of the prior band mates jam in! Axl was as happy n playful as ever...All in all? I give it an A ++++++  Thanks guys for one hell of a SPECTALUAR EVENING! ;)

sandyf
sandyf

hey dumbass, the "original" lineup didn't include slash and i'm sure when gilby and matt sorum joined during uyi you didn't mind. so you just miss slash.. why? he's great, no argument there, but the guys in gnr are superb. what you miss is impossible to achieve... even with the afd lineup... most are sober and in their 50s. you're not going to recapture that magic.... it's been 25 years, time to move on... slash surely has.

nico kensing
nico kensing

So another fool who say something original like "this isn't Guns N Roses", neat, haven't heard it before.

Btw, give up the fantasy the old band ain't getting back together so keep it moving, you and the rest of the reviewers with that nonsense.

Blah
Blah

 Only dweebs wear band shirts to their actual concerts.

Msanderson A
Msanderson A

I saw axl's version of guns in Dallas in early November..this review was exactly how I felt..good show, good technical players however no balls, no attitude and it's not the real thing

And who cares if these guys are technically better musicians or not..thousands of people can cover the guitar and bass work the original guns came up with..however only axl, slash, izzy, and duff created it. They created something out of thin air that was the biggest band in the world for 6 solid years.

I'm not a hater on the new band. I liked Chinese democracy and still listen to it..but the magic is just not there. And I don't Axl pushes him self physically or musically as much as I wish he would. He'll always be one of my top 2 favorite front men ever irregardless.

The fact remains as long as axl keeps the name 99% of fans will continue having very high standards and wishing for the real guns n roses. Another 10 years of touring will not change that

Ryan Chapman
Ryan Chapman

 Agreed, I saw GNR just a couple months ago, this blew the roof off of anything I have probably ever seen.

Maybe the writer just can't hack staying up till 330 listening to rock.

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