Live Review: Guns N' Roses — House of Blues, West Hollywood
Tue, 13 Mar 2012 10:10:16
It's time for rock 'n' roll fans to stop worrying about inductions, awards ceremonies, press opinions, message boards, empty industry accolades, and meaningless back-patting.
None of that has anything to do with the actual music.
Were Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin fans in the 1970s concerned with Soundscan numbers? It's highly doubtful. When Master of Puppets dropped in 1986, did the Metallica faithful worry if the band would get a Grammy or an induction thirty years down the road? No. Facebook statuses and tweets shouldn't define the zeitgeist—nor should critical diatribes. Fans need to experience music and immerse themselves in it on their own.
In its purest form, rock music isn't created to achieve any of those aforementioned falsities or to appease corrupt corporate machinations controlling the business. Rock wasn't even made to accrue the trappings of excess that have often unfairly been pinned to it over the years.
Those men on stage are "artists" at the end of the day, and their music is "art". That notion should never be forgotten. It's crucial. Like classic Greek theater boasting a catharsis at the end, rock music has forever been about providing a release for both the fans and the artists. That's what Guns N' Roses were always about from day one, and they still are to this day. Closing out their historical three show "L.A. Takeover" at the sold out West Hollywood House of Blues, Guns N' Roses solidified their status as the greatest American rock band of all time once more.
There's no one like Axl Rose. He's still the most magnetic and talented frontman in the game. From his uncontainable energy on stage to his divine pipes, he's the personification of rock 'n' roll. Guns N' Roses—Axl, DJ Ashba, Richard Fortus, and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal [Guitarists], Tommy Stinson [Bass], Frank Ferrer [Drums], and Dizzy Reed and Chris Pitman [Keyboards, Piano]—marvelously ushered the start-studded Hollywood crowd through every era of rock music, on their own terms. Everything commenced with the distorted industrial twitch of "Chinese Democracy". DJ Ashba ripped through the opening riff authoritatively as Ax moved to the center of the stage to overwhelming cheers. His voice remained utterly flawless for the three-plus hours to follow. He hit the bellowing baritone of "Chinese Democracy" on the verse and then elevated the chorus to a vocal level beyond comparison.
The guitar trifecta of Ashba, Fortus, and "Bumblefoot" added an element of precise thrash danger to "Welcome to the Jungle" as Axl lyrically stomped through the mean the streets that birthed Guns N' Roses with inimitable charm and towering vocal range. Ferrer flawlessly laid down the rhythmic foundation for "It's So Easy" preserving the song's punk panache while bringing an element of personal groove. "Mr. Brownstone" also gave the three axemen another chance to brandish their fiery fretwork, deepening the classic tune.
From Chinese Democracy, "Sorry" simply soared as Axl hit one resounding high note before the last chorus that sent chills through everyone in the building. The band slowed down "You're Crazy" with a funky, R&B swagger that nodded to Jimi Hendrix and James Brown simultaneously.
Afterwards, Axl grinned, "That's an interesting smell."
Laughs abounded as puffs of smoke rose from the crowd intermittently. Quickly Stinson perfectly plucked out the sexy intro of Appetite for Destruction closer "Rocket Queen" as the rest of the band steamrolled into a bluesy metal explosion of musical mastery and scantily clad models adorning the jumbo screen from them. It was about as rock 'n' roll as this generation gets.
Reed and Pitman's pianos drew the intimate audience in even closer into the band's embrace at the start of "Estranged". During those Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II epics, everything sounded so majestic. Like "November Rain", "Estranged" rose as a symphony does with different movements from "Bumblefoot" and Ashba's echoing leads to Axl's incredible delivery. Every element converged for pure rock bliss. The same magical phenomenon occured a little later during another modern masterpiece from the band, "This I Love".
Finishing "Estranged", Axl spoke again, "Thank you. I mean that. I want to thank everyone that came out to the arena, club, and theater tour and the fans for making it a great success."
It was a tender and gracious moment that seamlessly launched into a vicious "Live and Let Die". The group collectively adopted a fun honky-tonk hop during "Used to Love Her" and a searing cover of The Rolling Stones' "Dead Flowers".
Axl went on, "It's really fun to be ending this little run on sunset. It's a bit of a homecoming for me."
That homecoming proved to be the utterly perfect rock show. Remember, the music is all that matters at the end of the day and Axl always delivers on stage and in the studio. Guns N' Roses still rule rock 'n' roll, and if you have a problem with it, to cite a line from "It's So Easy", "Why don't you just fuck off?"
Were you there? What's your favorite Guns N' Roses show you've attended?
See our live review of the band at The Palladium here!
See our exclusive live photos of the band here!
See our exclusive on Guns N' Roses and The Unstoppable Axl Rose here!
See our review of Chinese Democracy here!
See our review of The Forum show here!
Photo: Corey Soria