Guns n' Roses is doing a "warm up" show or whatever Saturday at the Hollywood Palladium leading into the 3,000th leg of their unending reunion/pension tour. Up until now, I haven't bothered to check out the tour, mostly because of over priced arena or stadium settings, plus, I've seen them numerous times through their glory years in '86-'93 and even one show in 2006 with Axl's band o' scabs that was actually pretty impressive (plus Izzy joined in for about 8 songs). So I kind of half-heartedly was checking out tickets this morning and shock of shocks, I managed to score one for the show so now I have something to do tomorrow night!
So late this morning ....recovering from last night's show.
To give a bit of perspective, this was my 9th time seeing them, first being when they opened for The Lords Of The New Church back in early '86 at Fenders Ballroom, last being in 2006 during the Universal Amphitheater run when Izzy guested for a 3rd of the super long set. Since they reunited a few years ago, I've wanted to see them again but have been totally put off with the stadium/arena tour and the very Use Your Illusion era setlist.
Anyway, tonight's show was solid up through about 2/3rds of the 24 song set. The last 3rd dragged quite a bit mostly because of the pacing of the tunes included such as back to back covers of Wichita Lineman and an instrumental Wish You Were Here. I'm aware this was a mildly condensed version of the arena/stadium set but I have to say, if I paid good money to see this especially at a crappy stadium, I would have been bored much of the show and probably pissed afterwords. The set was mostly the usual AFD tunes, the key Illusion tunes, a few ChiDem songs, ("Better" kills live), a Velvet Revolver song (Slither), and the usual covers such as Duff doing "Attitude." Probably the deepest GnR cut they played was "Coma."
I got to the Palladium and parked just before 8pm when they were just about to start letting people in. The line which apparently started early in the morning wrapped almost completely around the block the Palladium and it's parking lot is on and it took almost exactly an hour to get in. I saw only one guy selling a few hard tickets for about $300+ each. I didn't hear anything about a ticket drop earlier in the afternoon.
Once inside, the place filled up really quick and by about 10pm, people were starting to get restless. There were a *lot* of trashed people stumbling around, puking in the restroom well before the show started. Lotta 2nd Gen not-so-good-looking millennials dressing like it's 1988. Close to 10:30, band came on and launched into It's So Easy and the crowd was into it and the band and Axl sounded pretty impressive. Slash especially sounded awesome. Fortus was often so low in the mix it sounded at times like a one guitarist band. I noticed the keyboard chick was really helping on backup vox when Axl was hitting higher notes.
What quickly became a weird distraction was *every* instrumental break, guitar solo, etc, Axl would duck off stage into this little black tent on the side of the stage. Often, he'd come out in a new shirt or a hat or whatever. I think he changed clothes more than Stevie Nicks w/Fleetwood Mac. I get sometimes a singer might feel awkward or want the band to have the spotlight but in this case it seemed like Axl wanted minimal involvement on stage if he wasn't needed to actually sing. I dunno, maybe he has a weak bladder or needs to hit the oxygen tank. Vocally, I thought he was pretty decent, certainly not the range of the good ol' days but I've heard worse. I have to say, I haven't been paying much attention to his health or appearance since the very beginning of the tour a few years back so I was a bit shocked that he's become such a chunky monkey. Anyway, at least he didn't utterly suck singing like a David Lee Roth or (cue douche chills) Vince Neil.
The major thing that made this a good show was the relatively intimate setting (the Palladium) and the band itself. I've never been disappointed musically by whatever lineup Axl has surrounded himself with, hell I thought the 12/19/06 show with Bumblefoot and Scabs was actually better performed than the bloated '92 UYI tour LA Coliseum show I saw. I think the late start, the instrumental breaks, the slow and unfamiliar tunes especially after Sweet Child Of Mine took a bit of wind out of the show. People were streaming out after SCOM and the back of the floor thinned out considerably for the last half hour of the show.
Still a good show but it certainly scratched the itch to see them one more time.