Axl Rose, Tommy Stinson, Richard Fortus, Dizzy Reed, DJ Ashba, Bumblefoot & Frank Ferrer. 1st Bank Center. 12.11.11

Don’t call them Guns N’ Roses, but don’t mistake ‘Fat Axl’ for ‘Lazy Axl’.  In fact, although he might have 100 lbs on the serpentine, drug-addled dance machine in the “Welcome To The Jungle” video, Mr. Rose proved himself a better performer than he ever was back then.  When Guns N’ Roses came through Sacramento in ’88, I wanted to go so bad — not just because Appetite For Destruction literally changed my life, but because they were opening for my favorite band in the world, Iron Maiden. Unfortunately, my parents thought the “7th Tour of a 7th Tour” was a bit much for an 11 year old, so I was at home reading the latest issue of Metal Edge while my slightly older friends were heading down to Cal Expo.  Unfortunately for them, after a long wait, Slash came on stage to announce that Axl was unable to perform — something about his voice being ‘fucked up’.  Ask around and you’ll hear this story again and again — Axl a no-show, Axl hitting the stage hours after his scheduled time, Axl being too drunk to perform, Axl assaulting the crowd…the list goes on and on. These personality flaws caused one of the best metal bands of the 80’s to go down in flames — these personality flaws are partly to blame for a half-empty 1st Bank Center last night. Other reasons include ‘it is not G N’ R without Slash, Duff and Izzy’, ‘not driving to Broomfield’, ‘tickets are too expensive’, and ‘saw them in their heyday, why ruin it?’   These are all valid arguments, but I am here to make another one — Axl might not be in the best shape of his life, but he’s in better shape than you!  Do you think you could perform for 3+ hours at this elevation? I doubt it.

ILSUDH2 Presents: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Axl Rose and band at the 1st Bank Center:

The Good:

  • Last minute tickets were cheap and easy to come by. I got my GA Floor ticket for $20 plus a $5 customer fee from flashseats just hours before the show.
  • Black Label Society were worth the $25 alone.
  • Axl and crew took the stage at exactly their scheduled time of 11:00pm (45 mins after Zakk Wylde walked off).
  • Axl sounded good (and sometimes great).
  • Axl did not have an attitude. There was no rock star bullshit.
  • The sparse crowd on the floor made it easy to get right up to the stage.
  • Being used to seeing shows in smaller venues, the pyrotechnics were pretty damn cool — you could feel the fire on your face.
  • The setlist was incredible — all the old stuff, deep tracks, and even the Chinese Democracy material sounded great.
  • Axl was all over the stage, working all angles — there was not a bad seat in the house.
  • The pure nostalgia of hearing these songs — “Mr. Brownstone”, “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Nightrain” — literally worked as a time machine on my mind.
  • Came out strong with “Welcome to the Jungle”, “It’s So Easy” and “Mr. Brownstone” — mixed the new with the old and the covers perfectly.
  • Zakk Wylde joined for a cover of “Whole Lotta Rosie”.
  • No banter, just a rock star performance.
  • The sound was great (at least up front).
  • 3 hour and 5 minute set!

The Bad:

  • Large, soulless, corporate music venue.
  • $10 parking.
  • Expensive cocktails.
  • Having to drive to and from Broomfield.
  • No matter how good the band is, they are not Guns N’ Roses.
  • All the solos. (I realize this was to give Axl a break, but once again, these guys are not G N’ R, I don’t need to see you solo)
  • Axl leaving the stage whenever he wasn’t singing.
  • The show did run pretty late. I don’t mind being out late, but by the time they closed with “Paradise City”, it was hard to get excited because I was exhausted. (once again, a testament to what great performing shape Axl is in)

The Ugly:

  • The place seemed empty.
  • Some of Axl’s outfits really did make him look like ‘Fat Axl’ looking for cake.
  • Drunk dudes in Broncos jerseys yelling ‘Welcome to Denver!’ all night.
  • Feeling the dude’s skull hit the floor after his failed attempt at crowd surfing.
  • Drunk people who can’t handle being drunk.
  • DJ Ashba literally trying to be Slash — Jack Daniels shirt, hat, cigarette hanging from mouth, etc. Just stop dude.
  • Calling the band Guns N’ Roses.

Overall, this was an amazing performance from a guy whose obviously got something to prove — to the fans, the haters, and more than likely, to himself and his ex-bandmates. I am glad I went. No regrets.

Setlist:
Chinese Democracy
Welcome To The Jungle
It’s So Easy
Mr. Brownstone
Sorry
Shackler’s Revenge
Estranged
Rocket Queen
Sonic Reducer (Tommy Stinson on lead vocals)
Better
Richard Fortus Guitar Solo
Live and Let Die
This I Love
Dizzy Reed Piano
Street Of Dreams
You Could Be Mine
DJ Ashba Guitar Solo
Sweet Child O’ Mine
Another Brick in the Wall Pt. II
November Rain
Bumblefoot Guitar Solo
Don’t Cry
Whole Lotta Rosie W/ Zakk Wylde
Civil War
Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
Nightrain

Instrumental Jam
Madagascar
Riff Raff
Instrumental Jam
Patience
Instrumental Jam
Paradise City