Live Review: Guns N' Roses — The Joint, Las Vegas
Thu, 08 Nov 2012 09:46:48
Las Vegas is a city built on legendary shows.
In fact, when you think about Sin City, those iconic performances and performers are among the first things that come to mind—along with casinos, buffets, and The Hangover, of course. Think about it for a second. Frank Sinatra used to post up here. If it's good enough for Frank, then it's worth a go for any influential artist in this day and age.
However, there's never been a show in Las Vegas quite like the Appetite for Democracy residency that Guns N' Roses is hosting at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Standing out as the best ticket in town, it's the most incendiary show that the city has ever seen on multiple levels.
Right now, no musical act on the planet can match the sheer instrumental firepower brandished by Guns N' Roses. The tri-guitar attack of DJ Ashba, Richard Fortus, and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal seamlessly shifts from precise, potent shredding to soulful riffing. It's a delicate balance that these three maintain confidently. Bass player Tommy Stinson brings punk grit and rumbling panache. Drummer Frank Ferrer is so rock solid it feels like the very Strip's wellbeing depends on him. Meanwhile, keyboardists Dizzy Reed and Chris Pitman open up the sound with orchestral bombast and industrial sheen.
Then, there's the greatest rock 'n' roll frontman of all time leading the charge—Axl Rose. Make no mistake about it, he is the greatest, and his performances (such as these) reaffirm that.
Last night during the fourth residency show, Rose emanated pure fire, practically burning the place down with his heavenly, haunting, and hypnotic delivery. After an animated intro featuring the classic original Appetite For Destruction artwork coming to life, Ashba's guitar heralded the band's arrival at the start of "Chinese Democracy". Rose's baritone inflection shook the room intensely as he crisscrossed the stage, running with unattainable charisma. His scream resounded pristinely in tandem with the guitarists' soloing after one final explosion of fireworks.
"Welcome to the Jungle" raged and roared as Rose's voice perfectly powered through the immortal refrain. Keeping up with Sin City tradition, dancing girls flanked the band gyrating along to each groove. Appetite sounded insatiably wonderful at the hands of this crew as "It's So Easy" and "Mr. Brownstone" transported the packed venue back to the blackened heart of Los Angeles circa 1987. Rose served as the best guide possible.
An early standout, among countless standouts, "Estranged" soared on the wings of big guitar solos and Reed's rapturous piano. With the visual overload of girls on the screen behind the stage, Rose lifted "Rocket Queen" past this stratosphere way beyond the heavens with a rousing wail.
Cast in flames and explosions, "Live and Let Die" could be Las Vegas's new national anthem, razing the stage with pyro. "This I Love" from Chinese Democracy comes across so poignantly at these residency gigs. Ashba's fretwork entwines with Rose's words, making for a truly elegant display of effusive emotion.
"Somehow, I think when I was five-years-old singing in church, I don't think this is what my parents planned for me in the future," smiled Rose after a particularly explosive "You Could Be Mine". "I could be wrong".
The truth is, there's nothing wrong about Appetite for Democracy. In the capital of doing wrong, everything goes right with this show. The cover selection was simply mind-blowing. Rose took to the piano for a trippy take on Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2". However, the group went all psychedelic with a fascinating light show and even more fascinating interpretation of The Who's "The Seeker". Rose brought the classic to life with a theatrical swagger and classic vibrancy that made for a genuinely special and unforgettable moment. Rose has got the kind of soul that'd make Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend smile.
Also, their rendition of Neil Young's "Don't Let It Bring You Down" proved instantly irresistible, especially as Rose jested about being "a goddamn purist" about whistling, in Young's words, after performing it. "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" rattled those great gates in the sky.
"Madagascar", "There Was a Time", "Patience", and "Paradise City" rounded out the three-hour gig with an a propos final salvo. The night began big, and it ended even bigger.
With enough pyro to fuel the fourth of July in Indiana, unparalleled instrumental prowess, dancing girls, and the best voice in rock 'n' roll, Appetite for Democracy will go down in Las Vegas history as a landmark. Sinatra would be proud.
— words and photos Rick Florino
Have you seen Guns N' Roses on Appetite for Democracy?