Feature: Guns N' Roses and the Unstoppable Axl Rose on Tour in 2011
Wed, 23 Nov 2011 06:32:51
How many mavericks are left out there?
When you really think about it, there aren't many modern artists who will genuinely rattle society's cage and push the envelope to the point of changing the rest of us for the better. They're definitely not on YouTube, and they're certainly not being found by major labels. Most of today's "musicians", gatekeepers, and tastemakers are far too concerned with what's working at the moment, what's safe for general consumption, or what has the biggest social media numbers. However, that fear isn't what produces classic records.
It's the fearless ones who write the soundtrack to our lives and give us shows we remember forever. Even after all of these years, there's still no one more fearless than Guns N' Roses mainman Axl Rose.
Ever since Guns N' Roses revolutionized rock 'n' roll with Appetite for Destruction, Rose has rightfully been a legend. However, he gets better with every album, and that's a fact. Appetite ripped a hole right through pop culture with a combination of honest gutter poetry and metallic proficiency as well as the best voice the world had seen since Robert Plant.
Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II saw Rose seamlessly volley between demonic punk thrash on "Right Next Door to Hell" and "Back Off Bitch" to the piano-driven brilliance of "November Rain" and elegant darkness of "Coma". Let's not forget the vicious bitch-slap of "Get in the Ring" and "You Could Be Mine" or the utmost epic "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" and "Civil War". The Illusion albums vaulted Rose to a level that most songwriters and singers rarely achieve. We're talking John Lennon, Mick Jagger, and Roger Daltrey territory.
In many ways, 2008's Chinese Democracy genuinely continued that tradition of evolution, further propelling Axl on that upward trajectory as an irrefutable rock divinity. [Jaded industry folk screaming for the importance of online presence also take note: Guns N' Roses has over 12 million Facebook fans too and Axl has over 225k Twitter followers, just saying…]
Let's face it, he already was a legend by the time he recorded the long-awaited Democracy, but the record is a classic in its own right. It delivers on a myriad of levels. The siren swell and neck-breaking riff at the beginning of the title track charge forward with Rose's war cry as he screams, "It don't really matter". Those first words prove extremely prescient. Nothing does matter but the fact that the song pummels and pulverizes poignantly as does all of Rose's best work.
On the band's recent run of 2011 dates, Guns N' Roses has been opening up with the song, and it's the perfect first salvo for them to explode right out of the gate with. Guitarists DJ Ashba, Richard Fortus, and Bumblefoot practically set off an atom bomb of flawless riffs and leads, illuminating that Guns N' Roses is as fortified, fiery, and formidable as ever. Throughout the set, each of those gentlemen receives the spotlight to shred.
"Shackler's Revenge" melds industrial infectiousness to the classic guitar, drum, and bass assault as Rose crescendos between the various vocal personae that have always made him so undeniably intriguing. "Better" follows suit, treading soulful territory over guitar and keyboard effects. The real marvel is that Rose, longtime keyboardist Dizzy Reed, bass master Tommy Stinson, keyboardist Chris Pitman, drummer Frank Ferrer, and the three-tiered six-string warriors impeccably bring this to life on stage.
Once Chinese Democracy is alive, it's like Dr. Frankenstein's monster—massive and out for blood. Other recent cuts such as "Madagascar" and "Street Dreams" emanate a soulful swagger a la Elton John with a street grit and gusto that's purely Rose.
These songs also hold up alongside every bit of new material that the band is playing. Rose's piano solo elegantly bleeds right into the pulsating heartbeat of "November Rain" and "You Could Be Mine", "It's so Easy", and "Rocket Queen" all pack the same punch. When Rose and Co. take everyone to "Paradise City," there are few concert moments as magical to this day.
In addition, the press continues to laud those magic moments. About the tour, Rolling Stone wrote, "Rose and the band are really cooking", while Chicago Sun Times professed, "Guns N' Roses is best when they kick hard and keep moving, and amazingly that's what they did for three hours." Loudwire adds, "GN'R sounds tight as hell as they look great rocking out on that massive stage" and "Axl Rose still performs with the stamina of an 18-year-old-kid."
With a recent rare Rose interview under his belt for VH1's That Metal Show, heavy metal guru Eddie Trunk exclaims, "He's still Axl Rose, and he's masterfully found a way to be interesting." One of his peers, Zakk Wylde, puts it best, "As a frontman, nobody's come close to him."
Listen to Chinese Democracy or witness Guns N' Roses on tour this fall right now. Every note rings as true as the first howls from "Welcome to the Jungle".
There's still only one king of the Jungle, and he's the maverick this world needs now more than ever.
— Rick Florino
Have you seen Guns N' Roses live? What's your favorite Guns N' Roses song?
Current Tour Dates Below:
11/25 Worcester MA DCU Center
11/26 Camden NJ Susquehanna Bank Center
11/28 Hamilton, ON CAN Copps Coliseum
12/01 Detroit MI Palace of Auburn Hills
12/02 Cincinnati, OH U.S. Bank Arena
12/04 Nashville, TN Bridgestone Arena
12/05 Southhaven MS Desoto Civic Center
12/07 Youngstown OH Covelli Center
12/08 Indianapolis, IN Conseco Fieldhouse
12/11 Denver, CO 1st Bank Center
12/13 Salt Lake City UT Maverik Center
12/16 Seattle, WA Key Arena
12/17 Vancouver, BC CAN Pacific Coliseum
12/21 Los Angeles, CA The Forum
12/31 Las Vegas, NV The Joint
Keep an eye out for more from Guns N' Roses at the following links to get news on tour dates and more!
"Like" the band on Facebook
"Follow the band on Twitter
Visit the official Guns N' Roses site