Live Review by Militia ; Photos by Estranged
GUNS N` ROSES + Sebastian Bach + Rose Tattoo
The Acer Arena, Sydney; 23rd June 2007
Guns N` Roses were finally back in town after a long 14 year wait. Having been fans since we can remember as soon as tickets were available we wasted little time to secure them. For some of us Gunners were one of the bands that led us into heavier music so we felt obligated to show our gratitude and see the show. Just like at Eastern Creek in 1993 providing support were none other than the Aussie veteran rockers Rose Tattoo and Sebastian Bach, who play traditional 80`s glam metal similar in style of Skid Row from where Sebastian initially hails from. The all star line-up was together for this concert too which was part of Guns N` Roses 2007 Chinese Democracy World Tour and although we were aware that it certainly wouldn`t be same as with Slash on guitars, we remained extremely positive and psyched none the less to finally see Axl Rose hit the high notes and scream his lungs out, Dizzy Reed`s blistering keyboard solos and the rest of the musicians shred and bring the thunder down under to what would prove to be a sell out audience once again. Fourteen years ago there were a record 70,000 tickets sold, this time around all tickets were sold in unbelievable 30 minutes after going on sale so fun was to be had.
Oliver very kindly provided the mode of transport (again) and after him collecting myself, my bro and his girlfriend the trip began. While blasting Gunners tunes on Oliver`s slick and brand new car stereo (and occasional new King Diamond track) we reminisced about numerous topics without little realising what was waiting for us once we got to the venue where not only the concert was staged, but also being a Saturday night at an Olympic Village, an AFL match between Sydney Swans and Collingwood Magpies. Unfortunately for us we did not fully comprehend the magnitude of it all so we ended parking farther away from the venue than anticipated as parking was hard to come by near the Acer Arena and indeed Telstra Stadium. That in the end bothered us little as we were fairly early to compensate for any loss of time, so we used the lengthy walk time to call up our other mates, Gavin, his girlfriend and her other South American cousin who were also on their way to meet us. Soon after we all arrived at the doors Gavin informed us that he had an extra ticket as another one of his mates had to pull out in the last minute so he was stuck with an extra ticket trying to sell it at the venue but unfortunately for him so did many others. The ticket was not sold so we decided to enter. Having come significantly early we avoided the big lines so without much hassle entered the venue to find it half empty. Crowds were pouring in every minute. Prior to entry we were told and repeated every 2 minutes that cameras and recording devices were strongly prohibited and if they caught us taking photos that they would be confiscated permanently. As was the case with concerts like Megadeth, U2 and Anthrax the warnings had absolutely no effect on us as we were in with all our equipment. Unfortunately once inside it was more difficult as security personnel were situated effectively throughout the venue and far stricter having a birds eye view on all of us which made it extremely difficult to snap quality photos. Being regulars however we knew how to get around this minor problem and by the end of the night came out with number of shots you no doubt see before you. The size of the venue was decent, holding no less than 20,000 people. The huge stage had two camera/lights operators propelled upwards in small chairs on both sides to capture the concert and bring us those live feeds on giant screens. It almost looked like they belonged on a Star Wars set judging by the size of their miniature cockpits.
Shortly after 8pm Rose Tattoo hit the stage and played a solid set of pure Aussie made rock and roll. I am unfamiliar with their entire album catalogue (by choice) but that did not stop me from having bit of fun. They weren`t ZZ Tops and certainly not AC/DC but none the less gave a good account of themselves in front of a rock crazed crowd who started jumping up and down every time a song got a little heavy and crowd surfing soon followed. The view from where we were stationed was fairly good so we were kept happy for the moment. The moshpit formed behind us and we were in front of the firing squad, or so we thought. It turned out that these moshpits were nothing like the ones we`re used to so it was fairly easy to scare of all those that tried to get close. I almost felt sorry for some of them who came close to either myself or Oliver. He looked ever so mean with his limited edition Iron Maiden Down Under Clansman T-shirt and leather Jacket and I was waiting to see if he was going to have a go at anyone for pushing him but he resisted. I didn`t mind an occasional chick rubbing against me so I allowed it to continue. There was a number of Slayer and Megadeth t-shirts around also. One lad had a Gigantour t-shirt on which was cool. I have to say that the Rose Tattoo singer still sounded quite good and absolutely had no problem doing his trademark screams to all the big songs. WE CAN`T BE BEATEN was easily their motto and they showed it! Most of the younger fans took notice and screamed along. Occasionally blues solo got my attention but beyond this the band was boring for the most part so I urged my companions to go upstairs with me and get our next round of drinks before the band finished and we found ourselves even farther back in line. The band soon after finished their set and the line for booze was extremely lengthened. We managed only to spend good 20 minutes in order to get the sweet refreshments, lucky. Most of us took 2 glasses each so that we wouldn`t have to come back a third time, as you would normally.
We returned to the main Arena to find Sebastian Bach just starting their set. Touring with Axl Rose constantly he learned a trick or two about stage presence starting running around and spinning his microphone like a little school girl would. I`ve only heard stories of this band and none of them negative, so I was actually looking forward to their performance. I suspected they were metal or definitely much heavier than Rose Tattoo so I didn`t want to miss a minute of it. Unfortunately my optimism was short lived as I was immensely disappointed after a song or two into their set. First of all I will clarify and say that this band is not metal. Their setlist comprised of no metal songs what so ever. The sound wasn`t too good either and it didn`t help them one bit. The vocals were repetitive and riffs were watered down showing neither emotion nor skill. I suppose I am used to one standard and if a band is rumoured to be metal and their set turns out to be repetitive and predictable blend of pop crap and almost like vintage popcore, then you would be left pissed off too. The band reminded me of a softer version of Aerosmith and their ballads were totally laughable. Almost as funny as his remark about the American troops allowing us the freedom we have today. Did he even realise he played to an Australian audience? Nobody cared about his American fanboism remarks. A fair thing to say however is that he did bring the fun element as the previous band failed to do so, however that`s as good as it got. The spinning of microphone irritated me to no end. It looked like the singer was playing hula-hoops or something. Watching that clown on stage made me realise how better Yngwie Malmsteen really is when he ripps through a solo and spins his guitar around his neck and back - a total legend of shred rock/metal to ever exist. He returned with what looked to be two encores but I couldn`t wait until the time the band left the stage in all honesty. Their performance was fairly lengthy so they must have packed most of their classic songs. I was unimpressed. Even if I was closer to the stage I can assure you the opinion would remain the same.
GUNS N` ROSES:
As soon as Bach finished number of people left the area to stretch their legs and/or get some booze so we used the opportunity to sneak back forward and get the best possible positions from where we could see Gunners. The stage was nicely decorated with some interesting banners with letters G N R displayed in some weird font but it looked cool. The lighting was perfect and background music was tolerable. The wait was a long one. Axl being Axl he kept us all standing up for an hour and a half. Their set started exactly at midnight which was a first for me. I have waited for Dave Mustaine and Megadeth to show up on stage for about 60 minutes back in 2005 and I can`t say that I didn`t see this coming. It`s a miracle Axl even bothered to go ahead with the show as we know what a stubborn child he really is or was back in the day. The crowd chanted GUNS - N - ROSES, GUNS - N - ROSES but it was all to no avail. I wonder if any of them were contemplating turning over cars and causing a riot on streets had the band cancelled the performance. I on the other hand very calmly and patiently waited for Axl to part wit his enormous ego backstage and finally show up. Eventually the swirling spotlights took to the stage and short time later the band appeared and without further delays got into it.
The hard rock band teased us as they opened with the intro riff from Welcome to the Jungle which quickly went silent and crowds responded. Exploding pyrotechnics there after signalled the start of the song and crowds went wild. The pyrotechnics were extremely loud and so was Axl`s voice which was in fine tune. The voice was exactly as we remember it being. Unfortunately the audio was pretty poor for today`s standards, perhaps it`s the position we were at or the venue (formerly Sydney SuperDome) just sucked, but it probably wasn`t Gunners fault. It was rather difficult to follow some lyric sections. The band needed three guitarists to replace Slash but overall they did decently. The setlist comprised of all the classics, number of individual solos as well as quite a number of as yet unreleased new songs of their most anticipated forthcoming album Chinese Democracy. To fill the lengthy set and to make it more fun, each musician had their spot in the light individually showcasing their skills starting with the Zakk Wylde look alike and former Nine Inch Nails guitarist Mr Rubin Finck. He ripped through some solos showcasing that it was no fluke landing a spot in the band. He was good, no question. The only thing wrong he`s done on the night was fuck up November Rain solo (only Slash can play it, standing on water no less). Personally I waited for Dizzy Reed piano solo to see if he would play a cover of Angie by Rolling Stones but it wasn`t to be. He played solidly but in one instance I felt as if he missed a key. Shows how much I know about playing a piano, did not even notice he played Never Tear Us Apart by INXS. One of the new tracks, titled The Blues was very impressive. The build-up was great with a piano intro before vocals taking over. Performance by Axl here was excellent, best all night and the blues guitar solos were played with great feeling. This is sort of songs that make or break bands and I think Gn`R struck a goldmine with this one. Ron`s guitar solo was electric. He played the Aussie national anthem to perfection and followed it by AC/DC`s classic Back In Black and finally Don`t Cry intro. He showed us also that he can do 6 fingers tapping which pleasantly surprised Oliver. His blues skills are also up to scratch. Soon followed more classics and my other favourites, including You Could Be Mine, Out Ta Get Me, Nightrain and who could forget My Michelle, possibly best Gunners song on the night. To help him sing it the band was joined by Sebastian Bach, first of two guest musicians to grace the stage. During some songs they had videos play in the background and I was looking forward to, or hoping that during You Could Be Mine they would show the official video clip from the Terminator 2 movie. Sadly they used racing footage instead, which I thought would have been more suited to Fuel by Metallica.
During Encore Axl was joined by Angry Anderson to sing Nice Boys (Don`t Play Rock and Roll). This song was the worst in the bands set I`m sorry to say. With Madagascar following I thought to myself that it was looking to be a weak finish. I did know Paradise City would be last but that song too is fairly light. After Madagascar the fans applauded the performance, to me it was another average one by the band. Having pyrotechnics kick in proved to be a winner once more. Confetti UEFA Champions League style was also coming down from the roof. As the band finished they gracefully took a bow which they`ve done over 50,000 times in their careers by now but what followed next was excellent, Axl doing the Aussie chant: Aussie-Aussie-Aussie Oi-Oi-Oi with the crowd before thanking all of us for coming out. He is not so bad after all. The band was done by 2:05am and the crowd was extremely pleased to have seen the Gunners finally after so many years. Let`s hope for their fans that Chinese Democracy comes out very soon, but I personally will not be buying it, I was not impressed by most of the new material. The three new guitarists just can not replicate what Slash managed to do back in the golden years. As for Guns N` Roses on live front, they still have a number of shows in New Zealand before they had to Japan, to make up for their postponed tour earlier in April.
After about 20 minute walk we managed to get to Oliver`s car and we were on our way home. Driving through dark and misty streets of Sydney at 2:30am is pretty cool to say the least. You should try it.
01. Welcome To The Jungle
02. It`s So Easy
03. Mr. Brownstone
04. Live And Let Die
05. Robin Guitar Solo/Jam with Frank and Dizzy
06. Sweet Child O` Mine
07. Knocking On Heaven`s Door
09. Dizzy Piano Solo (Never Tear Us Apart - INXS)
10. The Blues
11. You Could Be Mine
12. Richard Guitar Solo/Guitar Duet with Robin (People Get Ready)
13. Out Ta Get Me
14. Piano Moving Jam
15. November Rain
18. Ron Guitar Solo (Australian national anthem, Back In Black, Don`t Cry)
19. My Michelle (with Sebastian Bach)
22. Nice Boys (with Angry Anderson)
24. Paradise City