Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Guns N' Roses at the Felt Forum

Axl to Grind by Greg Milner
(December 10th, 2002)

Judging from those Cowardly Lion braids, Axl Rose knows he's no longer king of the jungle.

At the Garden on Thursday, Guns 'N Roses sounded big and bold, but they played it safe: Their first dozen songs were all Appetite for Destruction standards, except for two from the Use Your Illusion albums and similarly ancient covers of Wings' "Live and Let Die" and Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door."

Rose thanked us for "selling out this motherfucking thing—it really helps a lot," a bad omen for the first North American G'NR tour in nine years. (As of now, at least eight dates have been canceled, including a Bay Area New Year's Eve show.)

Rose's kind words preceded Appetite's "Out ta Get Me," which made for a particularly revealing transition.

When G'NR recorded that song, Rose's crucifixion was still a fiction, but now the "they can't catch me" lyrics sound less like a boast and more like the nostalgic complaint of someone who can't get himself arrested anymore. Rose later launched a grinning diatribe against the Times' "Jonny Pareles": "If you're gonna lie, then you're a pussy." This served as a lead-in to "Patience," thus transforming a sensitive song about not having sex into a paranoid one about getting fucked.

If Rose is indeed knockin' on has-been's door, at least he's keeping everyone guessing. The three new songs mostly just mystified the audience, especially the video footage of MLK and Tiananmen Square during "Chinese Democracy."

My friend wondered if guitarist Buckethead wears a KFC bin on his head as comment on recent capitalist reforms in China. Sure, why not? And maybe Axl Rose handing out Krispy Kremes to the front row was the last gasp of a cultural revolution.

Source: Village Voice

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