Guns N’ Roses is quantity over quality: Review

Axl Rose

Never let it be said that California hard rockers Guns N’ Roses short shrift you on the music-for-money exchange.

By: Nick Krewen Music, Published on Tue Jul 16 2013



Guns N’ Roses
Sound Academy, July 15
2.5 stars

Never let it be said that California hard rockers Guns N’ Roses short shrift you on the music-for-money exchange.

If anyone felt slighted at forking over anywhere between $125 to $350 (for a balcony seat) at the intimate Sound Academy venue, founder, singer and songwriter W. Axl Rose and his seven accomplices sweated it out for two hours and 45 minutes at a predominantly eardrum-shattering volume to compensate them.

But it was a telling sign that there was plenty of room to move around and breathe at a show that, had it been held at the same place only a handful of years ago, would have required a shoehorn to squeeze into.

That was not the case Monday night, although attendance was healthy. Also healthy was Rose’s attitude toward the audience: known for late entrances that, in the past, have been as long as two to three hours; Gunners Mark VI (or is it Mark VII?) began a respectable 15-minutes after their slated 10:15 start time with the title track from 2008’s forgettable Chinese Democracy.

Rose was also extremely cordial throughout the night, really not saying much except for “thank you,” introducing practically every band member for their own solo spotlight and even smiling occasionally when he perceived the crowd was in sync to what he was dishing out.

What the band largely dished out was a 28-song set that satiated those who wanted to hear faithful renditions of Appetite For Destruction material (guitarists DJ Ashba and Richard Fortus’ note-by-note reenactment of the “Sweet Child O’ Mine” as initially composed and performed by Slash, currently persona-non-grata in Rose’s eyes, was intriguing) and a couple of choice tracks from the Use Your Illusion period; annoyed those who felt there was too much emphasis placed on individual spotlights (five of the seven members got ’em); and threw fuel on the fire for those accusing Guns of testing the waters as a Vegas lounge act with an unhealthy amount of covers. (We get “Live And Let Die” and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Doors,” but “Another Brick In The Wall Pt. II?” Really, Axl?)

For the record, the band, which included Replacements bass player Tommy Stinson — who should ostensibly be back in Toronto for their Riot Fest reunion show next month — keyboardists Dizzy Reed and Chris Pittman and drummer Frank Ferrer— were solid performers, but for all the bluster and volume, the element of danger that established and catapulted Guns N’ Roses to formidable heights is M.I.A.

You could have counted the fiery outbursts on one hand: Rose screaming along to “Welcome To The Jungle,”a bit of momentum from the follow-up combo “It’s So Easy” and “Mr. Brownstone,” and then it sort of flatlined until picking up again with “Nightrain” and a confetti-filled finale of “Paradise City.”

As for the 51-year-young Rose, who literally changed hats and T-shirts featuring different women in various stages of undress on a per song basis , he alternated between his trademark scream and his powerful operatic-type vibrato, and became stronger as he progressed deeper into the set list.

But there were times — most notably on “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “November Rain,” the latter preceded by the Pink Floyd number and an instrumental medley of Elton John tunes when he switched to piano — that Rose came so dangerously close to parody that one wondered if he was going to start taking requests and ask us to tip our server.

So guys, here’s some unsolicited advice: get rid of the Floyd, “Angie,” “The Seeker,” “No Quarter” and “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” covers; ditch the masturbatory band member spotlights; shave an hour off the set time and Guns N’ Roses will fill their chambers with more buzz and a lot fewer blanks.

Quality speaks a whole lot louder than quantity.

Be the first to comment on "Guns N’ Roses is quantity over quality: Review"

Leave a comment