Exclusive Report! Guns N' Roses Rocks Hard In Vegas!  

Denise Korycki, Contributor
Tuesday, January 02, 2001 04:22 PM

Axl Makes Triumphant Return To Concert Stage For The First Performance In Eight Years

"Everyone needs some time on their own, everyone needs some time all alone." He sang with such passion, it was as if he was explaining his absence from our lives for so long. And the audience sang with him with such an intensity as if they understood...

"Good morning! I just woke up. I took a nap for about 8 years!" That's what Axl Rose told the crowd of onlookers still in awe at the fact that this rock n' roll icon was actually standing right before their very eyes. What a way to bring in the New Year!

Axl Rose and the new Guns N'Roses line-up burst onto the unbelievably intimate stage at the House of Blues in Las Vegas, NV, like a force not to be reckoned with. 3:30 AM, January 1st, 2001 will go down in the history books (screw the new millennium) and mark Axl?s return to the fans that have loved and missed him for too many years. "Do you know where you are? You're in the jungle baby," he screeched during the opening song and carried on with such an impeccable perfection it made you feel like he was welcoming you into his jungle for the first time ever!

During the powerhouse two hour set, GN'R cranked through practically the entire Appetite For Destruction album with confidence. They snuck in a few songs from Use Your Illusion I - "Live & Let Die," "Don't Cry" and the epic "November Rain" featuring Axl's return behind the piano. Mixed in were hits from Use Your Illusion II - "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" and "You Could Be Mine," as well as one track from GN?R Lies - "Patience." They broke out a few new tunes including the previously released track "Oh My God," the new title track to the long awaited album, Chinese Democracy and a song entitled, "The Blues," which kicked some serious ass and was well received by the audience.

Axl's back with a vengeance; and he's taking no prisoners. After an incredibly long break that, he sarcastically yet sincerely said, was necessary to deal with some emotions he had in reference to singing the old band's music. And thank the heaven?s above that he finally got over it, 'cause the world's been missing out on and foaming at the mouth just to hear him again.

He may be with all new players, but trust me, there were times if you just closed your eyes, you felt the same way that you did over a decade ago. Yeah, everyone misses the old line-up and it's gonna be hard to get used to the new, but change isn't always a bad thing. The "new guys" held their own. After all, those are some fuckin' tough shoes to fill! Fans loved every single member of the old GN'R. True. And every single one of them will be missed, but kudos to the new guys for stepping in. And kudos to Axl for finally bringing it back to us. Like the old members, the new all have their own individual identity on the stage. And they're all amazing musicians. You can't condemn them just because they weren't part of the band since the beginning. It's not their fault and they're in the band now. So you either accept it or not. It's your call, but they sounded pretty damn good to me.

The introductions of his new lineup went smoother than expected. The audience greeted them rather warmly (with the occasional cry for Slash), but by the end of the night, the crowd seemed to grow more accepting of the band. It'll take some time getting used to, especially since Guns N' Roses was always known as a "true band," but as Axl said onstage when he introduced bassist Tommy Stinson, he comes from a band whose name is synonymous with what this industry is known for. . .The Replacements. GN'R proved they can still make it work with the "new guys:" Stinson, Brian (Brain) Mantia (former Primus) on drums, Chris Pitman and Dizzy Reed (old gunner) on keyboards, Paul Tobias, Robin Finck (ex-NIN) and Buckethead on guitars. (It would be different if the old band was trying to replace Axl, that would be impossible! No one can be Slash, no one is Slash, or Izzy or Duff or Steven or Matt, but they came pretty damn close. Let's face it, no one can be Axl or even come close.

Axl's a rock star. Plain and simple. He's a frontman like no other with a set of pipes that can easily blow anyone off the stage. He wailed, he inhaled, that "yowser" sweet inhale that only he can do, and he sang with such a passion and force that it sent chills down your spine, to the point where you had to pinch yourself just to make sure you weren't dreaming.

Not only did he sound amazing, he looked amazing. All of those rumors of a balding, bloated Axl can be put to rest (although most of them were dismissed after he surfaced back in June to jam onstage with Gilby Clarke at the Cat Club in Los Angeles). His hair's a bit shorter, but still full flowing and shiny enough to be in a Pantene commercial. He looked comfortable onstage with a pair of black Adidas - like jogging pants with red stripes down either side and a black (and later white) button down shirt with a dragon painted on it. He swayed the "Axl sway" and spun the mic stand around ferociously. His energy level was different though. There was a new found maturity and stealth to his undeniable presence and movements. Not as erratic or as hyped up as he was before, but hell, this was his first show back! (And he still had the audience by the balls the entire time!)

He's still got the attitude and edge we've all grown to love. But that's also different. There were no rants, no raves, no smashing, no bashing, no real threat of not knowing when he was going to fly off the handle. There was a sense of lightheartedness on the stage that made you feel comfortable and at ease. When the piano didn?t work at the beginning of a new song they were about to expose to the crowd, there was moment of tension in the audience. For a minute, you almost expected him to explode and thought that heads would be rolling, but to everyone's surprise (including Axl's), he chose to move onto a different song while the problem was fixed and decided to practice a little "Patience" (the song he picked to play). With a great sense of humor, he mocked his notorious past onstage outbursts and opted against throwing a "tantrum." At one point, Axl even prided himself on the fact that this time around was unusual. He confessed that he actually attended practice, rehearsal, and soundcheck and claimed that was a first in 15 years!

At times, he joked around with the other members, laughing and smiling. He treated his crew with an unprecedented amount of respect that made you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Axl and the new GN'R seemed to have a genuinely great time and so did the audience. He connected to each and every one of them gazing at them with the same awe in which we were gazing at him, seeming to enjoy playing the music we've longed for, as much as we enjoyed listening to and watchin' it. It was hard to take your eyes off him.

As he sat on the piano gathering up his "Patience," the room burst into a chant, "Welcome Back...Welcome Back..." It was a time for goosebumps
and welled up eyes. The room exploded with love and an invitation for Axl back into our hearts. The smile on his face was absolutely indescribable. He thanked the audience with a genuine amount of pride to be right back where he belongs. He admitted that he was beginning to blush and said, with a shyness that rarely comes out on a stage that he's always in complete control of, "now you're embarrassing me." And then he sang the words to that song that we've all whistled to a thousand times before, "just a little patience...yeah, yeah, some more patience..." It was as if Axl was thanking us for waiting for him to come back. Deep inside, it felt like he was connecting and telling a bit of an autobiography some how, some way. And when he roared his final line to that song, "oooohhhh I need you, ooohh, I need you, this time," you almost felt like screaming back, "we need you too!" The show was an emotionally draining experience that was flabbergasting, breathtaking and exhilarating all at the same time. "It's a feeling that I know, I know I'll never forget."


Set List: (May not be in exact order)

Welcome To The Jungle
It's So Easy
Mr. Brownstone
Live And Let Die
Oh My God
My Michelle
You Could Be Mine
Think About You
Sweet Child O' Mine
Knocking On Heavens Door
(New Song)
The Blues (New Song)
November Rain
Rocket Queen
Brain Drum Solo
Buckethead Guitar Solo
Out To Get Me
Chinese Democracy (New Song)


Silk Worms (New Song)
Paradise City (Thanks to: Tracy)






Copyright © 2001 Jarmo Luukkonen