Live Review: Guns N' Roses — The Joint, Las Vegas
Mon, 12 Nov 2012 09:23:21
In many ways, Appetite for Democracy perfectly encapsulates the immortal legacy of Guns N' Roses, while blowing the door open for an even brighter future.
The November residency has effectively conquered the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and The Joint in Las Vegas. Not far from the casino's "Circle Bar", there's some classic Axl Rose stage gear, most of the building's staff rock Appetite for Democracy t-shirts, and the parking garage's outer wall is covered by a giant poster for the residency. You feel the band's presence before you even enter the venue. Once you're inside those warm walls with the packed crowd though, there's nothing quite like it.
It's everything a rock 'n' roll show should be and so much more.
On Friday night, Guns N' Roses ran through an immaculately irresistible set eclipsing Appetite for Destruction, Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II, and Chinese Democracy. The material from the latter staunchly stacked up alongside the early fare with a combination of raucous rage and progressive intricacy.
"Chinese Democracy" revved up the festivities with staggering and flawless fretwork via DJ Ashba, Richard Fortus, and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal. Rose oscillated between a baritone on the verses and his signature scream on the hook, instantly transfixing while transcending. "This I Love", also from Chinese Democracy, lifted off to the heavens on Ashba's twisting and turning solo, as "Street of Dreams" and "Catcher in the Rye", benefitted from flourishes of classical keyboarding by Dizzy Read and Chris Pitman. Drummer Frank Ferrer and bassist Tommy Stinson bolted down airtight rhythms on "There Was a Time". Merging together moments of epic piano bliss, six-string sorcery, and Rose's inimitable pipes, Chinese Democracy's timelessness came through loud and clear live. If you haven't cranked it recently, you'll go back to it after one residency show. After two shows, you'll be hooked all over again.
Of course, at the hands of this deft unit, the Appetite for Destruction cuts simply slayed. That goes without saying. "Welcome to the Jungle", "It's So Easy", "Mr. Brownstone", and "Rocket Queen" fired off uncontainable attitude and aggression carried by Rose's charisma, perfect delivery, and swag-ed out stage moves. He lithely ran across the stage from riser to riser getting close to the audience and bringing them right into his world with open arms and a grin.
Rose's sense of humor also shone throughout the night. As the stage dancers exited after "Rocket Queen", he jested, "I want to thank your dancers—the weapons of mass distraction".
There was no distracting the crowd during the epic lyricism of "Estranged" or the uncaged and invigorating gutter stomp of "You Could Be Mine". Rose took to the piano for a psychedelically haunting cover of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2". He hit each key with unbridled passion and emoted on every note with his own panache and power. It led right into a chillingly beautiful "November Rain" complete with his piano taking flight and a haze of lights and fireworks.
Their interpretation of "The Seeker" by The Who, proudly nodded to the magic of the original, while wielding a grit and grist of its own. Like some kind of rock superhero, Rose never stopped moving, and his voice maintained its immense power throughout the three-hour-plus show. The audience also imbibed that energy, singing along to every word of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" and "Patience".
"Paradise City" ended the evening fittingly with on-stage fireworks of all kinds and one last display of brilliance from the entire band. Appetite for Democracy deserves to go down in history alongside the greatest moments in Guns N' Roses history. It illuminated the band's unwavering ability to put on a hell of a show rife with impressive instrumentation and the greatest vocals out there. Most importantly though, the residency feels like the start of the next chapter. There's a creativity in the air to it, and it'll undoubtedly inform whatever this group does in the future. That's the most crucial thing. Guns N' Roses are still the future of rock 'n' roll.
Were you there?
See our review of last Wednesday's show here!