Sunday, September 24, 2006

Review: Axl and the New Guns 'N Roses Hits Inland Invasion

On September 23, 2006, the same day that it was announced that they were pushing back several dates on the U.S. tour, Guns 'N Roses headlined Invasion Invasion in Devore, California. We approached the concert with some trepidation, thinking maybe Axl Rose would be so angry that he wouldn't even show up, thereby causing a riot (hey, it has happened before). When the penultimate act, Alice in Chains, finished its set, the excitement started to mount. The excitement faded and a darker mood set in as the minutes ticked by... The crowd grew restless (to say the least). At first, just empty water bottles were thrown, mostly in the upper lawn area. Filled but uncapped bottles were next. Things started to get really out of hand when certain audience members started setting bonfires in the upper lawn area of the amphitheater, which led to throngs of people running like crazy (whether to or from the fires, I don't know). Considering that security did complete patdowns of everyone entering the stadium and confiscated lighters and pens (!), it was mind-boggling that a little more thought was not put into crowd control inside the venue itself.

Finally, over 90 minutes after Alice in Chain finished its set, Axl and his new band took the stage to the strains of "Welcome to the Jungle" and rocked its way through a tumultuous set of nearly two dozen songs, mostly classic GNR songs and a few new songs. Axl was mature, gracious and humerous. He seemed genuinely appreciative of the audience and in turn, they loved him back. His voice, his moves on his stage -- everything pretty much the same as it was back in the day. The new band members were spot on and played the songs mostly note-for-note (only downside was a couple of gratuitious guitar solos by Robin Frick and Bumblefoot -- hello, Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful"?). The new tunes were well-received, but it was the performance of songs from "Appetite" and "Use Your Illusion" that brought the audience to its feet. In fact, towards the end of the concert, when the house lights were brought up, the place took on the feel of a revival meeting, let by the Reverend Axl. All in all, it was a great show. Axl is a consummate performer.

The two bands onstage prior to GNR were Muse and Alice in Chains. Muse is great on record, but left something to be desired live. The sound was cranked way too loud and the band did not have any rapport with the audience in its short (45 min.) set. After a 20 minute delay to change the stage, Alice in Chains came on and rocked the house, especially when Chester from Linkin Park joined the band to perform "Man in the Box".

For some cool photos of the show and the scene (including the afore-mentioned fires), check out Inland Invasion Pics on Flickr

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