Guns N' Roses
Vancouver, British Columbia
December 17, 2011
Photo by Ben Checkowy
The call went out as Guns and Roses, led by the charismatic Axl Rose, was to return to Vancouver December 17, 2011 – more than nine years after the infamous no show in 2002 which resulted in a well documented riot from disappointed fans.
Vancouver is well known by it’s ‘disappointed fans’ and what they are capable of. If the two riots by the fans for the Vancouver Canucks losing The Stanley Cup are any indication, this was going to have to be a ‘Show of Shows’!
As the date drew near you could hear the naysayer’s, but the word from the tour was this was a show not to miss. Three days before an announcement was made that none other than Duff McKagan’s Loaded would open the show. WOW, you got to be Kidding? Now this is an event. I started calling all my friends and telling them they had to go because it was going to be an event not to miss.
If you are familiar with any of GNR’s past, then you knew that they routinely take to the stage late. The show didn’t get going until Loaded hit the stage at 9 pm and they rocked! Duff’s not just the original Guns and Roses bassist, but a rocker with punk roots from the seventies and early eighties. He reminisced about coming to Vancouver from Seattle during these times to rock to Vancouver’s DOA. I was also a big fan of punk those years. I saw The Ramones in 1978, Carole Pope with Rough Trade and even XTC. Being from the Toronto area I was exposed to everything those years. It’s fun and the music really rocked.
Loaded played for an amazing one and one half hours, while most openers only play for forty-five minutes or an hour. They played two GNR covers too – So Fine and Dust N’Bones. Duff would later come out and jam with Axl and the boys on GNR’s-You Could Be Mine and Civil War. What a bonus!
At 11 pm the lights went down and Guns and Roses took the stage. Their opener is Chinese Democracy from their latest release. The Coliseum just went nuts. The first few lyrics were faint and the sound had to be adjusted, but from my perspective this was the only flaw throughout the whole night. The crowd was wild and Guns and Roses was in perfect form – and the hits just kept coming. The show would go on for three hours. Yes, a 2 am finale.
The stage setup was grand. This was a big stadium set up just for us. Four huge screens and ramps reaching either side of the stage. The ballroom staircases on either side of the drum kit between the two keyboardists were inner laid with lights. The show had more pyro and sparks than any KISS show I had ever seen and everything was done over the top. Maybe this was only for us because of 2002, but this was a show not to miss. I truly do not know if they made any money, the ticket prices were bargains too.
When songs like the second one,’ Welcome To The Jungle’ were performed the crowd went wild some more.
Guns and Roses has three guitarists, the famous Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal is a master of the frets or should I say fretless. DJ Ashba played a lot of what would have been Slash pieces and guitarist Richard Fortus is a mindblower to watch and listen to. The talent of these three musicians makes GNR’s tour a must see for any rock enthusiast. They got to play a solo each.
Right after Rocket Queen was played, one young lady with a banner that read “ I’ll Be Your Rocket Queen” was lifted onto the stage by Axl and given a big hug. Meanwhile, Richard Fortus had a solo that went into Live and Let Die – the cover they did originally done by Paul McCartney and Wings. Tommy Stinson, the current bass playeralso had a song of his own, Motivation, and Tommy sang lead vocals on it.
GNR toured with two keyboardists. Long time favourite Dizzy Reed and recently Chris Pitman. They were on the same level as the drums on either side. On drums was Frank Ferrer. What a power to hammer those drums.
Dizzy went into a solo covering Baba O’Riley by The Who. It was great. A couple of songs later Duff McKagan was introduced. I knew he would jam with his old bandmate. DJ Ashba then went into his solo, playing MI Amor, which was mind-blowing.
The crowd was pretty well behaved then all of a sudden Axl stopped and pointed to the audience down in front “Hey You , yeah you , you motherf****! Get him, he’s trying to start a fight. See ya later," he said. "That felt good. I haven’t done that for at least a hundred shows.” The crowd was just stoked.
Axl then went into his apology for 2002’s no show. He said he wanted "this show to be great. I showed up a week in advance just to make sure. We all know how rowdy Vancouver can get” We all cheered his apology. Axl had just been redeemed.
The show just went on and on as Axl jumped into his piano solo, starting with Gran Torino, then Elton John’s Good Bye Yellow Brick Road and Someone Saved my Life Tonight, before his trademark November Rain.
Bumblefoot then did his solo, The Pink Panther Theme. The stage just filled with that calibre of talent, is just too profound for words.
When Duff McKagan returned and they were back to four guitarists on stage you can’t describe without being there the power of the guitars all playing at once. Two keyboardists, Frank Ferrer on the drums and Tommy Stinson on the Bass. Axl played on the piano for a while too before the encore.
The encore was made up of several jams, just the boys playing, and between was Madagascar, Better, Patience and for the finale, Paradise City. Seven pieces in all for the encore.
Right on! Rock on! Guns and Roses was fantastic. They have to come back soon.
Welcome to The Jungle
It’s so Easy
Guitar Solo by Richard Fortus
Live and Let Die ( Paul McCartney and Wings Cover)
This I love
Riff Raff ( ACDC Cover)
Motivation -Tommy Stinson Song
Dizzy Reed Piano Solo ( Baba O’Riley by The Who)
Street of Dreams
You Could Be Mine with Duff McKagan
DJ Ashba Guitar Solo- Mi Amor
Sweet Child O Mine
AXL Rose Piano Solo ( Gran Torino into Good Bye Yellow Brick road and Some One Saved My Life Tonight by Sir Elton John)
Ron ‘Bumblefoot” Thal Guitar Solo ( Pink Panther Theme)
Whole Lotta Rosie ( ACDC cover)
Civil War with Duff McKagan
Knockin On Heavens Door ( Bob Dylan cover)
2 am finish on December 18, 2011.