MTS Center, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
11,000 in attendance
Taken from www.winnipegsun.com
Written by David Schmeichel
And here we thought Axl Rose didn't have a sense of humour.
Well, the Guns N' Roses frontman laid that notion to rest about 90 minutes into last night's MTS Centre gig, when he was joined onstage by not only his new best buddy Sebastian Bach, but also myopic dimwit Bubbles (aka former Sandbox guitarist Mike Smith) of Canadian cult TV show Trailer Park Boys.
"This is a song I like to do back at the legion,"said Bubbles, after teasing the crowd with the opening riff from Closer To The Heart, then launching into his self-penned ditty Liquor and Whores. "Ah, f---, am I excited!"
The comic relief was a welcome break in what proved to be a nearly two-and-a-half hour set, one that didn't get underway until midnight on the dot, but which unfolded as smoothly as anyone could have hoped for (particularly the venue staffers who were ready to roll out an ominous-sounding 'Plan B' should the singer have decided not to go on).
There were no abrupt cancellations, no riots, and no unruly fans were tackled by a pissed-off Axl Rose. Most notably, of course, there was no pissed-off Axl Rose; in fact, except for a slight sense of anti-climax, last night's show pretty much went off without a hitch.
Sounding not at all temperamental (or hostile, or crazy, or any of the other things we worried he might be), Rose first took centre stage to the unmistakable opening riff of Welcome To the Jungle, looking every bit the rock star in a leather jacket, jeans and black shades. He took a few minutes to find his groove, rushing the lyrics at points and appearing a bit more concerned with executing his snake-shimmy dance moves than anything else.
But he soon hit his stride with It's So Easy, switching effortlessly between a spooky lower register and the ear-piercing howl that first earned him his place as one of rock's most distinctive frontmen.
"It's good to be here," Rose told the crowd of 11,000, before comparing his touring show to dancing a tango with his bandmates. "We were really looking forward to getting back up."
A pyro-heavy version of the Wings classic Live and Let Die was followed by the vaguely industrial-sounding Better (from the still unreleased Chinese Democracy album). Then Sweet Child O'Mine, on which Axl proved he can (mostly) still hit all the high notes, and an appropriately epic take on Dylan's Knockin' On Heaven's Door, which had the MTS Centre blanketed in lighters and cell phones.
After a blistering crack at You Could Be Mine, keyboardist Dizzy Reed (a holdover from the Use Your Illusion years), brought the lighters back with a piano version of the Rolling Stones‚ Angie, before segueing neatly into the sweeping ballad The Blues, and a cover of the UK Subs' Down On the Farm.
The other musicians backing Axl last night couldn't quite erase the memory of Slash and Duff, but they more than held their own, (though we suppose it would be tough to screw up songs as genius as Out Ta Get Me, November Rain, Patience or Nightrain, all of which were note-perfect last night).
Besides, as the brains behing 'Plan B' will no doubt agree, Axl with a new band is better than no Axl at all.
Early arrivals last night were greeted by quasi-strippers the Suicide Girls, along with last-minute additions Helmet (filling in for the Eagles of Death Metal, who were unceremoniously yanked from the bill two weeks ago). Like Axl, Helmet frontman Page Hamilton is touring with a brand new band these days, and while it was good to hear the group's staccato riffs again, we couldn't help but notice their high point was the stoner-rock throwback See You Dead, which sounded an awful lot like something Eagles of Death Metal axeman Josh Homme might have cranked out with that other band of his.
As for former Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach, well, despite coming off as a bit of an Axl-worshipping sycophant, he still did a decent job of keeping the crowd warmed up while they waited for the real show to start, even cutting the intro to Big Guns short when fans didn't go crazy enough.
"You know I'm a f---ing Canadian, right?" he shrieked repeatedly, during a vibrato-heavy set that also included Slave To the Grind, Monkey Business, 18 and Life, and American (okay, Canadian) Metalhead. "I wanna see the Winnipeg I f---ing remember!"
Moments later, Bach proved his memory wasn't quite as good where national anthems are concerned, goofing the words to an impromptu version of O Canada. Oh, and before he left, he had security guards eject a pint-sized fan from the front row, apparently just to prove that he could.
Now what was that we were saying about not having a sense of humour?
4 stars out of 5
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Taken from www.winnipegfreepress.com
Written by Rob Williams
For Guns N’ Roses fans Winnipeg was Paradise City Monday night.
Well, make that Tuesday morning.
The band are notorious for starting their shows late and took to the MTS Centre stage at midnight following a short (in Axl Rose’s world) break of only 45 minutes after opener Sebastian Bach finished.
Why Rose chooses to make his fans wait is a mystery, but the best guesses are to build anticipation for his travelling circus or so people can get enough of a beer buzz going to truly enjoy the group’s trademark brand of blooze-based hard rock.
Either way, when Rose came on he and his excellent seven-member band — three guitarists, a bassist, two percussionists and a keyboardist — were on top of their rock ’n’ roll game, much to the delight of the diverse crowd of 11,000 fans who filled the arena for a night of nostalgia.
For some it was a chance to relive the glory days of the late 1980s and early 1990s before the grunge movement killed the sleazy excessiveness Guns N’ Roses practiced — although there were many there who looked like they weren’t even born when GN’R were ticking off their fans the first time around.
For others it was a matter of pure curiosity: Would the erratic Rose even show up (if he didn’t, MTS Centre staff had a contingency plan in place and the police presence was extremely high in and around the arena to prevent hooliganism), and if he did would he be a moody self-centred jerk or the embodiment of what a great frontman should be.
Fortunately it was the later.
The group kicked off the two-hour-and-20-minute show with the familiar guitar intro to Welcome to the Jungle before an explosion of pyro announced Rose’s arrival centre stage wearing jeans, a black buttoned-up shirt and sunglasses with his long hair braided into unsightly looking corn rows.
His distinctive nasally whine sounded as strong as always on It’s So Easy and Mr. Brownstone, two more favourites from 1987’s Appetite For Destruction that opened the show. Rose looked and sounded good, but the years have taken their toll on the 44-year-old in other ways — he relied on a teleprompter situated on a stage extension to help him with lyrics.
Rose seemed genuine when speaking to the crowd. He talked about how he was looking forward to the Canadian dates and explained why he and the band still enjoy playing the same material nightly, even if much of it dates back 20 years.
“It doesn’t mean we’re not into it. It’s like doing the tango or Bossa Nova, but here you’re dancing with guitars,” he said.
Speaking of dancing, Rose’s two basic moves are still that weird serpentine slither and a series of herky-jerky bounce steps. I hereby nominate Rose for some crash course lessons on Dancing With the Stars.
The set list was a trip through some of the group’s greatest moments with Live and Let Die, Sweet Child O’ Mine, Out Ta Get Me, November Rain, My Michelle, Patience, Nightrain and, of course Paradise City, all revisited and given extra muscle by the sheer number of musicians on stage. It was great to see former Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson and Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck up there, but the night would have been more special with guys named Slash, Izzy and Duff backing Rose.
Instead, there was a crowd-pleasing appearance by Trailer Park Boys star Bubbles who joined Rose and Bach for the country-tinged Liquor and Whores and another GN’R classic, Used to Love Her.
Rose and his crew previewed a number of new songs from the long-awaited Chinese Democracy album: Better was a straight-up blast of guitar rock that sounded like it was written during the band’s heyday, The Blues was a blustery piano-based power ballad, and the title track was a lengthy, mid-tempo, symphonic rocker that lacked a discernible hook.
Whether the album will add to the band’s legacy remains to be seen, but the songs fit in perfectly during the GN’R v. 2006 concert.
Four hours before the headliners took the stage, the tattooed and pierced Suicide Girls burlesque troupe stripped down to their thongs and pasties while recreating the famous ear-cutting scene from Reservoir Dogs, danced in flaming hula hoops, poured chocolate sauce on each other and threw peanuts to the audience while playing the parts of sexy airline stewardesses.
Next up were 1990s alt-metal stalwarts Helmet, who were added to the bill after the Eagles of Death Metal were dropped/quit (depending on whose version of the story you believe) from the tour after one show.
Helmet find themselves in the same situation as GN’R: a band with only one original remaining member. In this case, Page Hamilton led his quartet of unknowns through 40 minutes of edgy noise rock and gritty alterna-metal climaxing with the title track of their/his career highlight, Meantime.
Gilmore Girls star Bach followed with a frantic set of songs from his days as leader of Skid Row. The thrashy Slave to the Grind, trashy Here I Am and sappy power ballads 18 and Life and I Remember You were mixed in with some new generic hard rock solo material.
The long-haired vocalist/actor was a manic whirlwind of energy, running all over the stage and banging his long hair in front of his four-piece band while screaming out two decades of lyrics and getting the crowd to sing along during an impromptu version of the Canadian national anthem, with an incorrect line thrown in for good measure despite his repeated reminders he was Canadian. He even waxed patriotic by dedicating the song Canadian Metalhead to the troops who died overseas, “for our right to rock and roll.”
The good-time party vibe turned slightly ugly near the end of his one-hour set when Bach got two girls thrown out for being antagonistic during one of his many between song rants. Seems he can give it, but can’t take it.
4 stars out of 5