Music Reviews — 18 November 2011
Guns N’ Roses at the Izod Center: A Concert Review

Guns N’ Roses
Izod Center, East Rutherford, NJ
November 17th, 2011

Concert Review: Guns N' Roses at the Izod Center

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Few musicians can vanish from the limelight just as quickly as they came, only to return whenever they wish and still command the same respect from their audience. But only one performer actually has the audacity to knowingly and purposefully anger his fanbase by starting his performances at seemingly random and spontaneous times, often late in the evening, keeping crowds waiting for hours before deciding when he is good and ready to begin. We’re speaking of course of the notorious Axl Rose, frontman of the iconic rock band Guns N’ Roses and Thursday night, Axl and a re-formed outfit returned to a relatively undersold Izod Center across the river in New Jersey, once again proving that despite the time he’s spent out of the public eye and the countless knocks against him, he remains one of the greatest live performers in rock music history.

GNR’s opening act was the British Screamo outfit, “Asking Alexandria,” who took the stage just after 9pm. The band was met with a rather lukewarm response, as the venue was still very much half empty, and the gathered crowd did not have an appreciation for the Brit band’s brand of music. Choruses of boos rang throughout the aged arena, with the empty seats a confirmation of the belief that Rose would not be arriving early. As of 10:30, rumors swirled that the reclusive singer wasn’t even in the building yet, but sure enough as the clock struck eleven, the lights went down, and a nostalgic rock frenzy began to amplify. Graphics began to appear on the many LED screens surrounding the stage while the band’s new intro music titled “Dexter” served to electrify the crowd even before Rose’s first appearance on stage.

With little pause, Guns’ new lineup ripped straight into “Chinese Democracy,” the title track from the band’s most recent, and long awaited 2008 release. Rose strode to center stage defiantly, belting out the track with the intensity fans have come to hope for. Outfitted in a cowboy hat over his red bandana, sunglasses, and a black leather jacket, Rose peered into the crowd asking “You know where you are?” before launching into the tight sounding staple, “Welcome to the Jungle.” Looking older and heavier than he did in his last area visit in 2006, Rose wasted little time cutting his chops, proving that his trademark voice was still there as was the stage presence that made his superstar a household name. It should also be noted that Rose truly assembled an outstanding group of musicians to replicate the signature sound Guns N’ Roses first made famous back in 1987. Although a messy breakup has kept many of the original members from playing together since roughly 1994, the revamped lineup, showcased last night consistently performed to the lofty standards maintained by their predecessors. Specifically, the stand out guitar work from the brilliant Rob “Bumblefoot” Thal and DJ Ashba expertly traded shredding solos on several Guns’ hits like “Sweet Child Of Mine” and “November Rain,” creating a unique wall of sound.

While the retooled lineup delivered, Guns N’ Roses, the entity will only go as far as Rose decides to take them. Time and again Rose would jettison himself offstage while his talented band carried on the non-vocal portions of each familiar Guns song, but sure enough every time he’d strut back out, he would be greeted warmly by his avid fans. But over the course of the band’s nearly 3 hour extended set, Rose gave them no reason not to be enamored by his persona. Songs like the fantastic and nearly ten minutes long “Estranged,” and “Don’t Cry,” spliced with faster tunes like “Rocket Queen,” and a pulverizing version of “Nightrain,” to close out the set, waking up a relatively calm crowd. Rose’s attention to detail and his catering to the appeasement of his fans was obvious as the band ripped through every imaginable crowd pleasing tune. From “Live and Let Die” to “You Could Be Mine,” “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” to “Patience,” Axl Rose and company left no stone in this setlist unturned. As the clock inched toward 2am, the familiar riff of “Paradise City” began to take shape, accompanied by some incredible pyrotechnics, signaling the conclusion of a rock and roll renaissance, with every remaining member of the audience on their feet singing the words with the singer in unison. The performance, while long and ending late at night became a true walk down metal’s memory lane, but also showed signs of new life from a classic band.

- Jay Rubin & Jane Van Arsdale


Guns N’ Roses – Live at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, NJ

November 17th, 2011


1. Dexter Intro
2. Chinese Democracy
3. Welcome To The Jungle
4. It’s So Easy
5. Mr. Brownstone
6. Sorry
7. Riff Raff (AC/DC cover)
8. Estranged
9. Better
10. Rocket Queen
11. Richard Fortus Guitar Solo (James Bond Theme)
12. Live and Let Die (Paul McCartney & Wings cover)
13. This I Love
14. Shackler’s Revenge
15. My Generation (The Who cover) (Tommy Stinson on Lead Vocals, with Band Introductions)
16. Dizzy Reed Piano Solo (Baba O’ Riley)
17. Street Of Dreams
18. You Could Be Mine
19. DJ Ashba Guitar Solo (The Ballad Of Death)
20. Sweet Child O’ Mine
21. Instrumental Jam (Another Brick In The Wall Pt. 2)
22. Axl Rose Piano Solo
23. November Rain
24. Bumblefoot Guitar Solo (Pink Panther Theme)
25. Don’t Cry
26. Whole Lotta Rosie (AC/DC cover)
27. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan cover)
28. Nightrain

Instrumental Jam
Paradise City

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