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Chinese Spaghetti Illusion Destruction 101: Guns N Roses At The Joint

By Misnomer on Friday, 17th August 2012 2:33pm
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 15


Guns N' Roses has announced a twelve show residency at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, which they're calling "Appetite For Democracy at The Joint".

Over the past year, I've seen the current incarnation of Gn'R three times: Once live at an arena in Kansas City, and twice via pay-per-view live streaming. One of those pay-per-view concerts was at The Joint this past December.

Recognizing that a mini-residency in Las Vegas is likely to draw many casual fans as well as the simply curious, I've put together a little list of what one might expect from a Guns N' Roses show at The Joint.

5 Things You'll Probably Like

1. Axl Is Singing Well. If your last remembrance of Axl Rose is the Guns N' Roses "comeback" at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2002, you'll be pleasantly surprised. His voice is strong, and his range is very good. He doesn't resort to tricks that other singers who have lost their voice often pull, such as dropping songs down a half step, or asking the audience to sing the chorus. For the most part, the voice you'll hear is the voice you heard blaring from your dual cassette deck GPX stereo in 1987.

2. The Shows (Should, Generally) Start On Time. Axl's habitual tardiness is the stuff of legend, and was cited by former Gn'R guitarist Slash as one of the reasons the original lineup disbanded. However, with limited exception, reports from recently completed tour dates have been that the shows have started on time. The fact that there is no travel involved in a residency should only improve the likelihood that these shows go on as scheduled.

3. The Band Is Tight. There's no getting around the fact that Axl Rose is the sole remaining original member of Guns N' Roses. The good news is that the band surrounding him is solid, and the show generally sticks to note-for-note reproductions of the original recordings. That's a welcome return to normalcy after the freak out tours that included avant-garde guitarist Buckethead and Robin Finck from Nine Inch Nails re-imagining the classics on a nightly basis.

4. The "New" Songs Are Good. The band's set is going to include several songs from the infamous Chinese Democracy album. Although released in 2008, most of these songs will be new to the casual fan whose interest in the band extends only as far as the Use Your Illusion albums. Setlist enthusiasts sometimes jokingly refer to new songs as "pee break songs" but it would be a shame to miss songs like "Better" and "This I Love" performed live. The band has a special energy when playing the newer material, as if they've something to prove. These songs should be well received.

5. You'll Get Your Money's Worth. The band's touring set is nearly three hours long, filled with hits (Welcome To The Jungle, Sweet Child O' Mine), famously covered songs (Live And Let Die, Knockin' On Heaven's Door), deeper cuts (Estranged, and an acoustic You're Crazy), and the aforementioned songs from Chinese Democracy. However, the Hard Rock website notes that, "Each night, the band will perform an electrifying show featuring a set list created exclusively for The Joint." It remains to be seen whether that will mean a scaled down version of the touring show. Still, with reserved balcony tickets running $73.15 after fees, the show promises to be a bargain by Vegas standards.

5 Things You Might Not Like So Much

1. Axl's Mustache. During the recent tour, Axl has been sporting a pronounced Fu Manchu mustache. He was probably going for, "Chinatown opium dealer," but the net effect falls somewhere between Rollie Fingers and Paul Teutel, Sr.

2. Dressing Up Current Band Members As Old Band Members. Lead Guitarist DJ Ashba is a gifted musician. Close your eyes, and it's not difficult to imagine that you're hearing Slash recreate his classic outro solo from Paradise City. Open your eyes, and you'll wonder why it was completely necessary for Ashba to cop Slash's top hat. Yes. They put him in a top hat. And handed him a Les Paul, while rhythm guitarist Richard Fortus (who bears more than a passing resemblance to Izzy Stradlin) plays a hollow body, as Stradlin frequently did. Bassist Tommy Stinson, formerly of The Replacements, doesn't look much like original bassist Duff McKagan, but the two share a certain punk rock sensibility.

None of this quite stoops to the level of KISS, who shamelessly dress impostors in Ace Frehley and Peter Criss makeup, but it does seem like a deliberate attempt at mimicry, and it's unnecessary. What matters, as they say, is the song, and the good news is that these musicians are very capable players.

3. Medium Sized Venue. Guns N' Roses got their start playing the gritty clubs on L.A.'s Sunset Strip, but The Joint lacks the small room feel of the Whisky A Go Go. Neither is The Joint large enough to really experience an arena style Gn'R show. In fact, the December show I saw lacked the inflatable props, pyro, and elevated stage platforms that the band had at the Sprint Center arena in Kansas City. Put another way, The Joint just isn't the best venue in which to see Guns N' Roses, but it'll have to do.

4. Necessary Evil Of Breaks. Although Axl is in good voice of late, given the length of the show, it's necessary to build in a number of opportunities for him to take a breather. This means solos, and lots of them. Each of the three guitarists get solos. The bassist gets a solo spot, typically covering and singing lead on The Who's "My Generation". Keyboardist Dizzy Reed gets a solo. Even Rose gets a piano solo while the band takes a break. As I mentioned before, stay for the Chinese Democracy songs, because you'll have plenty of time for beer runs later.

5. Bumblefoot. Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal is a technically proficient musician, and is ostensibly part of the production to handle the wackier, Nintendo inspired guitar parts that he and deposed guitarist Buckethead contributed to Chinese Democracy.

But he always manages to seem like a third wheel, due in no small part to the fact that he is the third guitarist onstage. What's more, he insists on lugging around an obscure, French-built, double neck guitar (one neck is fretless!) that appears, in his hands, to weigh about 200 pounds. Throughout the show he hoists this monstrosity up to his bent knee - a move that apparently requires considerable effort - where he then attempts to demonstrate his virtuosity by performing eight-finger tapping runs and fretless whale farts utilizing both necks. I have no doubt that the man is talented, but in this show, he's an unnecessary distraction.

Unfortunately, the residency begins just after the Vegas Internet Mafia Family Picnic, but if you get to one of these shows, please let us know how it was!


Comments & Discussion:

I'm extremely drunk right now and don't feel like reading allllll of this. So can you simply say if this is serious..?

Great article Misnomer ! finally a postive article on my favorite band Guns N' Roses. I already got tix to the last show of the residency... I can't wait booking my hotel Tuesday and staying at either Flamingo or Bills. I've seen GnR 2 twice last year, and the show's kick ass ! Axl is the heart and soul of the band since the beginning. 3 hrs of pure Rock N Roll and the band is good. I've ment them and they are really nice and down to earth. I also suggest anyone who's in town for the show's go see them.

^^ I don't blame you for not reading it. It basically just says that Velvet Revolver is a cool band.

I hear that HRH will pretty much theme their property will all GnR stuff, while the residency is taking place. Guns N' Roses crap table, Nightrain served at all the bars, you name it.

"Fretless whale farts" is a keeper.

I was worried we were seriously talking about Guns and Roses.

Interesting tidbit about Bumblefoot being the third guitarist. Reason is back when they recorded AFD- UYI they would record Slash's guitar parts twice and layer them ( creating a more fuller sound). Once Slash left and Axl rebuilt the band... he added a third guitarist for live shows to re-create that for concerts. For example if DJ Ashba is playing lets say the Nightrain solo, Fortus and Bumble will play the same rhythm parts, and vice a versa with Fortus and Bumble. As well as what misnomer mentioned above too, for the Buckethead parts and tapping.

Of course "on time" for Axel is 11pm....saw the show in Camden, NJ back in November 2011. Wow was that a late night.

Its disgusting that this guy gets to put on shows and call them "Guns n Roses". I can't image how anyone who was a fan of the original band would give this prick a cent of their money.

I wish they'd play "Cornshucker".

This is a GNR tribute band with the original lead singer. They are no more GNR than I am.

Nice write up Misnomer, count me one that's hoping for an extension or another run in say the March timeframe as I'd love to see them. Very happy to hear, that it's a tighter group then what I heard about on the road for a while.

I'm not a thrilled that it's at the Joint, or that Axl is the sole original member, but since I've never seen them live, it's what I have to deal with now. The one thing I will say to those that think it shouldn't be called GNR, the fact is I'd see a cover band with Axl singing, rather then the original members and a replacement doing the same tunes.

for jinx73, why? Velvet Revolver was better then anything Axl and company put out since the line up change. Those guys are integral to the band. It's Slash for Chrissesakes!

Dorian, Chinese Democracy is a good album, you have listen to it with a open mind and not who should be on the album. To me GnR never would of made it big with any other singer besides Axl... case in point Velvet Revolver ( they don't even have a singer). Slash created those classic solo's and riffs, im not taking that away from him, but times change and people change. You can replace the band but not the singer in my opinion.

This is NOT GnR.

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