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Guns N' Roses Rock The Hollywood Palladium
Monday, 12 March 2012 19:40
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Would you attend an all-general admission, standing room only concert, that began past midnight, and featured DJ Ashba, Frank Ferrer, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, Richard Fortus, Chris Pitman, Tommy Stinson and Dizzy Reed?  Maybe?  No?  What if this same concert featured a certain William Bruce Rose Jr. (aka Axl Rose) on lead vocals, and the band called themselves Guns N' Roses?  That might inspire you to go, right?  It certainly inspired the 4000 or so men and women who packed the Hollywood Palladium Friday night to rock out into the wee hours of the morning.

The music of Guns N' Roses has stood the test of time, sounding just as strong today as it did when they first emerged on the scene in the mid-1980's.  The sad things is, the band now exists not so much as a "they," but as a "he."  The "he" being Axl Rose, who has single-handedly kept the Guns N' Rose name alive for the  past 15 years.  What was once a powerful quintet  featuring Axl Rose on vocals, Slash and Izzy Stradlin on guitars, Duff McKagan on bass, and Steven Adler on drums…is now a one-man show featuring a charismatic singer and his talented 6-piece backing band.  No, this is not the same band that recorded classics like Appetite For Destruction and the Use Your Illusion albums, nor is it even the exact line-up of musicians who helped Axl Rose record the last Guns N' Roses album: 2008's Chinese Democracy.  That said, this new, revamped version of Guns N' Roses is quite good…very good indeed.

Epic.  That is the best way to describe Friday's Hollywood Palladium concert, epic.  The other word that comes to mind is "exhausting."  Starting at 12:20am, Axl Rose and the band played for a ferocious three hours, ending the show close to 3:30 in the morning.  Had the show started earlier, say 10, or 11:00pm, the crowd might have appreciated the concert to its fullest.  Yet the wild energy the audience might have had at say…midnight, was fairly depleted by the show's half-way point at 2:00am.  However, you can't fault Rose and Co. too much.  They could have easily played a fast 90 minutes, and everyone would have been pleased.  Instead, Guns N' Roses chose to play a much longer show, containing nearly ALL of the songs that people wanted to hear.  At about $97.00 a ticket, everyone at the concert undoubtedly got their money's worth…and then some.

Opening with "Chinese Democracy," Guns N' Roses played a very healthy sampling of their back catalog.  Eight songs were performed from Appetite For Destruction, plus two songs from G N' R Lies, three songs from Use Your Illusion I, and four songs from Use Your Illusion II.  Their latest work, Chinese Democracy, was represented by no less than seven songs.  The Appetite material brought the biggest cheers…especially "Welcome To The Jungle" and "Sweet Child O' Mine."  Deep cuts like "Night Train" sounded great, and also lifted the crowd up.  People sang along to "Used To Love Her" and "Patience," and cheered hard for classics like "November Rain" (featuring Axl Rose on piano), "Don't Cry," "Civil War," and "You Could Be Mine."  Axl and the band also performed a great version of the 1978 AC/DC classic "Riff Raff." 

So as not to make it the "Axl Rose" show in its entirety, bassist Tommy Stinson got to step up front to sing a song called "Motivation," from his 1994 solo album Village Gorilla Head.  Rose left the stage for Stinson's song, and left it again while Dizzy Reed took center stage to perform a solo piano version of The Who's 1971 classic "Baba O'Reily."  Rose departed once more to give the stage to DJ Ashba for a guitar solo, and left again when Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal performed a solo to Henry Mancini's 1963 "Pink Panther" theme.  Rose left the stage often during instrumental breaks throughout many of the songs performed Friday night.  What he was doing off-stage, is anybody's guess.

No matter what you think about Axl Rose, you can't deny how much he gives of himself in concert.  Late-start aside, Rose and the band were nothing short of fantastic.  This was everything you'd want out of a Guns N' Roses show (minus the original line-up, of course).  Axl Rose must have taken great care of his voice over the years, as his singing Friday night was spectacular, his voice sounded exactly as it did back in the 80's.  He was active, he was animated.  Rose ran around the stage, stood up high, danced, and even shook hands with the crowd. 

By the time the band broke out the final song of the night (the majestic "Paradise City"), and the canons blasted the crowd with millions of pieces of red confetti, (what was left of) the Palladium audience was more than ready to leave for the night/morning.  There were no calls out for "more! more!"  How could there be?  Guns N' Roses had already given everything they've got, and everyone was happy.  What more could one ask?

 

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