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2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

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2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL Empty 2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

Post by Soulmonster on Fri Oct 19, 2012 9:51 pm

Date:
November 18, 2002.

Venue:
Allstate Arena.

Location:
Rosemont, IL, USA.

Setlist:
01. Welcome to the Jungle
02. It's So Easy
03. Mr. Brownstone
04. Live and Let Die
05. Knockin' On Heaven's Door
06. Think About You
07. You Could Be Mine
08. Sweet Child O'Mine
09. Out Ta Get Me
10. November Rain
11. Madagascar
12. Rocket Queen
13. Street of Dreams
14. My Michelle
15. Patience
16. Chinese Democracy
17. Nightrain
18. Paradise City

Line-up:
Axl Rose (vocals), Richard Fortus (rhythm guitarist), Buckethead (lead guitarist), Robin Finck (lead guitarist), Tommy Stinson (bass), Dizzy Reed (keyboards), Chris Pitman (keyboards) and Brain (drums).

2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL Rightarrow Next concert: 2002.11.21.
2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL Leftarrow Previous concert: 2002.11.17.
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2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL Empty Re: 2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

Post by Blackstar on Tue May 19, 2020 9:46 pm

Psychologically, you could consider this a reunion tour, because I've managed to find enough pieces of my mind in order to be with you here tonight.
[Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL, USA, November 18, 2002]



Last edited by Blackstar on Sat May 30, 2020 5:59 pm; edited 1 time in total
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2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL Empty Re: 2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

Post by Blackstar on Tue May 19, 2020 9:47 pm

Preview in Chicago Tribune, November 15, 2002:

2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL 2002_141
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2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL Empty Re: 2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

Post by Blackstar on Tue May 19, 2020 10:34 pm

Preview in Chicago Tribune, November 17, 2002:

2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL 2002_146
2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL 2002_145
Axl sticks to guns as ‘band’ plays on

By Bob Gendron
Special to the Tribune


When Guns N’ Roses plays Allstate Arena on Monday, it will mark the group’s first Chicago concert since it performed a marathon show at the same facility, then known as Rosemont Horizon, in April 1992. Back then, George Bush was president, Saddam Hussein was first on Bush’s hit list and Billy Corgan was toiling in an indie rock band. So have things really changed?

For Guns N’ Roses, absolutely. It has been nine years and counting since the group released a studio album, a span that has witnessed the departures of lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Gilby Clarke, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Matt Sorum. Save for reclusive vocalist Axl Rose, the sole holdover musician is keyboardist Dizzy Reed, either the most patient or bored person on earth. The Guns N’ Roses that fans will see Monday is a completely different lot.

Rose, who is not granting interviews, has spent the last nine years rebuilding the band, frustrating his record label and purportedly recording upward of 80 songs. Ostensibly, perfection requires time—and plenty of it.

After auditioning a slew of drummers, guitarists and producers, Rose finally debuted the new Gunners in concert on New Year’s Day 2001, his first show in 7 1/2 years. Three other dates followed, but the group reneged on a scheduled European tour — twice. Last August, GNR managed to honor several Asian and European commitments and, in September, announced a full-scale tour that launched Nov. 7 at GM Place in Vancouver.

Show didn't go on

Well, not really. The show never happened. In its place, a riot ensued. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the third such insurgence associated with the band. Chicago fans have twice suffered the consequences. Due to a now-famous St. Louis melee, precipitated by Rose’s hastily diving into the audience to take a prohibited video camera away from a fan, GNR’s July 4, 1991, show at Tinley Park’s World Music Theatre was canceled. So was the second night of its April 1992 stand at Rosemont Horizon, after Rose fled the country in order to postpone his arrest stemming from the St. Louis incident. Neither show was rescheduled.

This time, however, a perplexing decision by facility management may be to blame. While initial media reports reprimanded Rose as a no-show, the matter is more complex. GM Place’s gates were never opened, leaving thousands waiting outside. Then, upon hearing that Rose hadn’t yet arrived in town, at 7:40 p.m., 10 minutes after the first opening act was to have taken the stage, GM Place managers canceled the show. By 8 p.m., angry concertgoers were smashing windows, glass doors and ticket kiosks. Shortly thereafter, police reinforcements arrived, and the blood started to spill. Meanwhile, his band already inside the venue, Rose was en route aboard an airplane and estimated to be running an hour late. (By comparison, GNR took the stage nearly 2 1/2 hours late here in April 1992 and proceeded to play for three hours.) The band’s spokesman said mechanical and weather problems grounded the singer’s plane, forcing a late takeoff.

The second attempt at opening night, held in Seattle on Nov. 8, actually took place. Aside from the venue’s infamous echoey acoustics, which were aggravated by a half-capacity crowd, and problems with Rose’s microphone feeds, the band received positive reviews. In soap-opera fashion, Rose allegedly damaged some vocal cords while overcompensating for the technical glitches, though no additional fallout has resulted — yet.

To Rose’s credit, he has assembled an outfit of mercenaries for this tour that, thanks to a triple-guitar attack, has a bigger, tighter sound and more musical proficiency than the first incarnation. If nothing else, GNR II is a veritable freak show.

New band members

First, there’s Rose, who has traded his long, stringy red hair, Charles Manson T-shirt, and workout shorts for braided dreadlocks, an Oakland Raiders jersey and baggy pants. Some implied Rose opted for loose clothing to conceal his girth, but recent paparazzi photos reveal he’s not fat; he’s just not as lean.

Buckethead, an avant-garde guitarist who has worked with everyone from Iggy Pop to Boot-sy Collins, spells Slash and likely will play an interlude with nunchucks. Tall, lanky, and mute, Buckethead claims to have been raised by chickens in a chicken coop, conceals his face with a white Michael Myers “Halloween” goalie mask and wears an inverted Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket atop his head. He’s also fond of yellow raincoats. (I’m not making this up.)

Flanking Buckethead on guitar are ex-Nine Inch Nail Robin Finck, whose pale face and gothic dress make him look as if he has been dead for five days, and Richard Fortus of the Psychedelic Furs and Love Spit Love, whose outward appearance, by comparison, is lackluster.

Rose enlisted one of Minneapolis’ formative punks in ex-Re-placement bassist Tommy Stinson. Brian “Brain” Mantia, formerly of Primus, mans the drums. Allegedly, Mantia’s attraction to the project was the opportunity to jam with Buckethead. Rounding out this circus are keyboardists Reed and Chris Pitman, who have recorded with Tool.

The band’s highly anticipated “Chinese Democracy” album has yet to surface, but a plausible rumor pegs its release for February 2003. Don’t hold your breath, but hey, at least it’s got a title. Though many believed Rose was heading in an industrial direction on the new album, all but one of the five new songs introduced on tour sound like classic GNR. Still, it’s anyone’s guess what the final product will resemble.

Despite its prolonged absence and lack of a new album, GNR is playing large stadiums, giving Rose the opportunity to prove his skeptics wrong and attempt a near-impossible ascent — complicated further by the Vancouver riot — back to the top. It should be exciting, but if you go, please remember that Axl still hates cameras. Some things never change.
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2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL Empty Re: 2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

Post by Blackstar on Tue May 19, 2020 10:38 pm

Review in Chicago Tribune, November 20, 2002:

2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL 2002_147
Guns N' Roses lacks old swagger

By Greg Kot
Tribune rock critic


When last seen on a Chicago stage more than 10 years ago, Guns N' Roses was the biggest rock band in the world. But they slinked out of town like fugitives, blowing off a second show the next night so singer Axl Rose could outrun an arrest warrant in connection with instigating a riot at a St. Louis concert the year before.

Some fans might have considered Monday's concert in Allstate Arena as an overdue makeup, though Guns N' Roses is a much different band. Long gone are Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum, who had replaced original drummer Steven Adler. All that's left from the famed lineup is Rose and keyboardist Dizzy Reed.

Otherwise this was a patchwork of the semi-famous: bassist Tommy Stinson, in his plaid Replacements get-up, and guitarist Robin Finck, looking every inch the fashionably post-industrial Nine Inch Nails refugee, plus Richard Fortus (Love Spit Love), Chris Pitman (Replicants) and Brian Mantia (Primus). The most unlikely addition had to be guitarist Buckethead, who looked like he was discovered in a fast-food trash bin, with his "Halloween"-style mask and headgear large enough to accommodate a family-size serving of extra crispy chicken.

Certainly the octet couldn't be faulted for its instrumental chops; Buckethead in particular is a marvel of nimble finger-work, a fluid guitarist who took a run at everything from mutant bluegrass to intergalactic surf during his solo.

But the new GNR isn't yet a band so much as a committee on retainer, lacking the Gunners' unifying slouch and swagger. The original band sent the arena-rock lovin' world into a tizzy with their merger of Aerosmith's bluesy, bawdy boogie and the New York Dolls' glammed-up recklessness. They were the last gasp for a bankrupt concept: boozing, brawling, womanizing and main-lining themselves into rock-star oblivion.

It couldn't last, and it didn't.

By 1993, after one landmark album ("Appetite for Destruction"), the Gunners fell apart and Rose all but disappeared, an alienated Midwestern kid who had managed to alienate everyone in his band. Under Rose's direction, GNR embraced show-biz excess with female backing singers, horns, power ballads and high-concept videos. The once raunchy Sunset Strip interlopers had gone pro.

It was this bloated version of GNR that the reclusive Rose tried to revive Monday, long on fireworks and gaudy visuals. The sound was huge, and sometimes the dreadlocked singer's voice lacked sufficient power to cut through it. Rose sprinted from side to side on the two-tiered stage or broke into his undulating snake dance while grasping the microphone stand, and his Wicked Witch of the West shriek occasionally melted away the years.

The set list was heavy on the band's standards, from the opening "Welcome to the Jungle" to the confetti-coated encore "Paradise City," with the 10-minute "November Rain" as the midset centerpiece. "Rain" remains an iconic song in the band's repertoire, Rose at the grand piano fighting for a doomed love, but it now sounds like a melodramatic stab at mimicking the multi-part epics of '70s rock.

It was impossible to argue with the signature Slash riffs and solos in "Sweet Child O' Mine," expertly replicated by Buckethead and Finck. A handful of songs from the years-in-the-making comeback album, "Chinese Democracy" (tentatively set for release next year), revealed few new wrinkles; the only concession to the '90s was a drum loop pumping beneath one tune, otherwise Rose's head was still swimming in classic-rock grandeur.

Missing from the new mix was the punchy songwriting of the Gunners' secret weapon, Stradlin, the pithy riff-rock of "Dust N' Bones" and "Double Talkin' Jive." Slash's penchant for excessive solos was once balanced by Stradlin's concise riffs. The current band has no such give-and-take. It more resembles an efficient arena-rock machine or well-rehearsed corporation. But can the control freak who runs the show keep his act together? Rose offered only one hint as to the fragile state of his psyche:

"Psychologically, you could consider this a reunion tour," he told the audience. "Because I've managed to find enough pieces of my mind in order to be with you here tonight."
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2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL Empty Re: 2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

Post by Blackstar on Tue May 19, 2020 10:44 pm

Review in Chicago Sun-Times, November 20, 2002:
LOSE YOUR ILLUSION
GUNS N' ROSES AT THE ALLSTATE ARENA


Guns N' Roses concert chart below songs

On its first tour, Axl Rose's bizarre new incarnation of Guns N' Roses proves it's not yet ready for its closeup

By Jim DeRogatis

The last two weeks have seen the highly anticipated return to the Chicago stage by two artists who've been missing in action for 10 years. But where Peter Gabriel came back with a show that underscored his enduring brilliance, Axl Rose offered much less.

Rose and his almost entirely reconfigured Guns N' Roses pulled into a packed Allstate Arena on Monday night. But it's hard to say that it was worth the wait--either in terms of the wait since the band's last album and local performance, or the typically long and thoughtless delay Monday that preceded Rose's eventual appearance onstage 21/2 hours after the posted start time.

There's no denying that Guns N' Roses defined mainstream rock in the late '80s, and it stands as one of the most important bands of the pre-alternative era. Yet the group's infamously mercurial lead singer (a self-important "artiste" if ever there was one) remains tethered to those times, with a new group that is best described as a passable Guns cover band; a smattering of new songs that add nothing to the legacy of tuneful, glam-leaning hard rock, and a set list that was heavy on material from "Appetite for Destruction" (1987).

Rose faced several hurdles even before he finally deigned to show himself. (And the Allstate's 10 p.m. start was early, compared to the union-defying set times in other cities on this tour.) For one thing, even the most devoted fan had to be suspect of him calling this group Guns N' Roses.

The Who is simply not the Who without Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey. The Rolling Stones are not the Rolling Stones without Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. It is hard to justify Guns being Guns without lead guitarist Slash (or for that matter, rhythm guitarist and tunesmith Izzy Stradlin, who was always the band's secret weapon).

The purposely cartoonish new crew did its best. Psychedelic-leaning shred guitarist Buckethead (whose improvised Kentucky Fried Chicken chapeau was a poor fashion substitute for Slash's old top hat) and glammed-out industrial noisemeister Robin Finck gamely traded solos, updating the old Guns sound for nu-metal ears (except during the really classic leads like "Sweet Child O' Mine," which they didn't dare alter).

Drummer Brian Mantia pounded away with arena-rattling aplomb, and Indiana homeboy Rose seemed to have genuinely bonded with Minneapolis-bred Tommy Stinson, though for anyone who ever loved the Replacements, the effect of seeing the punk-rock bassist covering Guns songs was akin to watching Charles Mingus jamming with 'N Sync.

But above and beyond any questions of authenticity were the hurdles of aging and nostalgia, those dreaded twin demons that plague much of rock 'n' roll.

Always a canny observer of pop trends, Rose knows that the Guns sound no longer rules rock, and a new generation of listeners likes its metal laced with hip-hop. He made a concession to this fact by having Beastie Boys DJ Mixmaster Mike play an hourlong opening set (following the wretchedly generic nu-metal band CKY) on the wheels of steel.

This was definitely not what the older Guns audience wanted. Mike was greeted with a sea of upthrust fingers through most of his admittedly boring performance, and disinterested fans spent much of the set and the hour wait that followed amusing themselves by starting fistfights or watching the Bears game in the arena lobby.

When Guns took the stage amid the expected fireworks and pyro explosions, the jersey-clad Rose darted about with athletic vigor, and he still did his awkward frat-boy shuffle dance with his usual misguided enthusiasm. But while it was better than it was during his inaugural reappearance at the MTV Video Music Awards in late August, his voice was still considerably weaker and more limited than it was during the band's heyday.

The vocals were often mixed below the guitars (never a good sign in a band led by the singer), and the dreadlocked Rose clearly benefitted from electronic augmentation at the mixing board during the ear-piercing screams on songs such as "Live and Let Die."

The old man also relied on several giant video monitors scattered about the stage to feed him the lyrics. (Jeez, Axl, you've had nothing to do for the last 10 years. You couldn't have spent the time re-learning those "classic" lyrics to "Mr. Brownstone"? And do you really need prompting to remember "knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door"?)

Most troublesome of all was the fact that Rose still has not learned that Guns N' Roses was always at its best when it was moving quickest and hitting hardest. The set bogged down for three or four long, soggy and self-indulgent power ballads just when it should have been building to a climax. When Axl sits down at the grand piano, you know it's time to run for a beer.

To be fair, the new millennial Guns N' Roses can't be entirely written off until Rose finally delivers the long-threatened new album "Chinese Democracy" (if indeed it ever appears). But Monday's show at the Allstate Arena didn't offer much hope for the band's reclaiming the commercial prominence or the artistic peaks it once achieved.

SONGS
"Welcome to the Jungle"
"It's So Easy"
"Mr. Brownstone"
"Live and Let Die"
"Knockin' on Heaven's Door"
"Think About You"
"You Could Be Mine"
"Sweet Child o' Mine"
"Out Ta Get Me"
"November Rain"
"Madagascar" (new song)
"Rocket Queen"
"The Blues" (new song)
"My Michelle"
"Patience"
"Chinese Democracy" (new song)
"Nightrain"
"Paradise City"

Letters in reply to the review above, Chicago Sun-Times, November 29, 2002:
GNR didn't deserve such a bad rap

Dear Jim: I just read your article about the Guns N' Roses concert [Nov. 20]and I got sick. I love the Gunners and it always makes me sick when I hear somebody talking bull---- about them, nevertheless I accept other people's opinions, but only if they're right. I can not imagine that the concert was that bad.

–Linda

*

Jim: What concert were you at? You critics think you know everything. You sound like you have a vendetta against Axl Rose. What did he do to you, anyway? Only the fans of Guns N' Roses have that right to criticize--you know, the ones who have to actually pay to get into the concert. Who cares if he had to use screens to remember the words? Many groups do it. He played a lot of songs that night; do you think you could've remembered the lyrics to each one? Doubtful. Plus he was running and jumping around so much he didn't have much time to look at the screens. That was the most electrifying concert I've ever been to. Sure I'd love to see Slash back in the band, but it's not going to happen and I am over it. I think that GNR sounds better today than they did 10 years ago, and as far as Axl's voice, I believe it's stronger. All critics need to get real jobs, because all you guys do is look for the bad in someone and tell everyone about it.

--Andrew
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2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL Empty Re: 2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

Post by Blackstar on Tue May 19, 2020 10:55 pm

Review in the Daily Herald, November 20, 2002:
Welcome back to the jungle
Axl Rose returns with band of hired hands


By Mark Guarino
Daily Herald Music Critic


He showed up. On time.

Regarding Axl Rose, that's news. In the late '80s and early '90s when he fronted the hugely popular pop metal band Guns N' Roses, Rose had a reputation for causing rampages after leaving a concert stage early, slugging someone in the front row, or sometimes not showing up at all. He kicked off his current nostalgia tour in appropriate form: In Vancouver two weeks ago, his opening night concert was canceled after he failed to arrive on time, igniting a riot that caused $100,000 in damage to the arena.

In other markets, Rose wound up on stage around 11 p.m. But at the Allstate Arena Monday night, Rose and his seven-member band of hired hands opened the show with his signature anthem "Welcome To the Jungle" at 10 p.m. What followed was a two-hour set of mainly old hits sprinkled with a few new songs.
The band onstage was Guns N' Roses in name only. After the original GNR disbanded in 1993, Rose spent until now retooling its lineup and working on new songs for "Chinese Democracy," a comeback album rumored to finally see the light of day early next year. Featuring refugees from bands as divergent as the Replacements, Nine Inch Nails, Love Spit Love and Primus, Rose's new band looked more like an army. At their best, they locked into Rose's old catalog and offered it with power. At their worst, they overwhelmed the singer to a point where he couldn't be heard and appeared incidental.

Rose offered an explanation why he chose to keep the band name: "Psychologically, you could consider this a reunion of sorts. I've managed to salvage pieces of my mind to be able to get here tonight."

He took the crowd back to the '80s where, adorned in long red braids, a football jersey and sweatpants, he struck his trademark poses and pierced high notes in his feline falsetto. Despite disappearing backstage during the guitar solos (there were many), Rose was actively engaged in the music. Although some GNR songs like "Paradise City" and "Sweet Child O' Mine" survived their age, most of Rose's past catalog sounded frozen in time. "Nightrain" sounded best relegated to the sports bar jukebox while the power ballad "Patience" was woeful sap.

To obviously fill time, he gave all three of his guitarists solo spots - performed as the band took a breather backstage. This was high boredom, although Buckethead - a guitarist whose gimmick is wearing a facemask, wig and KFC bucket on his head - was mildly entertaining. Playing guitar, he goofed off, playing the "Star Wars" theme to swinging nunchucks.

The entire night seemed to be an elaborately orchestrated project to regain credibility. True, GNR's songs offer less gloom and more melodic hooks than most hard rock contemporaries. But Rose's new songs were all high energy and shrill, posing the question: nostalgia sells, but for how long?
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2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL Empty Re: 2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

Post by Blackstar on Tue May 19, 2020 11:45 pm

Review in The Chicago Maroon, November 22, 2002:
Guns N’ Roses: Axl shows up, hits high notes sparingly

By Jon Garrett

Expect the worst; pray for something decent. That was my mindset going into the Chicago Guns N’ Roses gig this past Monday night, the fourth date on their first tour since the early ’90s. Early returns were not good. Axl Rose hadn’t bothered to show up for the first stop in Vancouver, thereby inciting an angry mob to hurl heavy objects at the arena doors and forcing the police to don riot gear. Rose actually managed to take the stage at the following two dates, albeit a good hour or so late in some cases and to half-empty venues. Meanwhile, reviewers at the performances claimed that Rose could barely make it through three songs before tapping out his voice. There were even rumors circulating that Clear Channel (the tour’s sponsor), unhappy with the sluggish sales, was going to call the whole tour off—sending Rose and his merry band of freaks home for the holidays.

So it is with genuine shock that I can report that Rose not only took the stage promptly at 10 p.m., but that he and his band delivered an electrifying set that should—at least temporarily—silence the skeptics. As was to be expected, the band emerged to the familiar opening progression of “Welcome to the Jungle.” The lights flickered on to reveal an exceedingly odd assemblage of characters: Robin Finck, former guitarist for Nine Inch Nails, who sported a bizarre mullet (shaved to the skin on top and long at the back); Buckethead, an avant-garde guitar prodigy who proved to be equally adept at the nunchucks and the 80′s dance-style known as The Robot; Love Spit Love guitarist Richard Fortus; former Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson; keyboardists Dizzy Reed (and lone surviving member of the Use Your Illusion-era tour lineup) and Chris Pitman; and Primus drummer Brain. Perhaps giving us time to adjust to the glaring absence of the top-hatted one, Rose sauntered onstage after a minute or so wearing an oversized football jersey and sweatpants. His formerly wild mane now hung in tight braids that reached to the middle of his back. Although some have speculated that the new loose-fitting garb serves to mask his weight gain, he did not appear too heavy or out of shape, ably running up and down the two-tiered stage throughout the evening.

The set list strongly favored material from Appetite for Destruction, the band’s landmark ’87 debut, which was somewhat surprising if only because Rose’s tone has changed drastically with age. He can still hit the high notes, but not with the same frequency. Thankfully, he didn’t even bother trying to hit every octave (although if that’s what he was attempting on the first several nights of the tour, that would’ve accounted for the blown vocals). Rose wisely chose to conserve his energy on this particular evening, letting the crowd do the work for him on the familiar numbers and reaching for the high notes only when necessary. This strategy worked perfectly and gave his band a chance to demonstrate their mastery of the old favorites. Buckethead was predictably brilliant, matching Slash’s bluesy phrasings note for note; but it was Finck who exceeded expectations, skillfully fleshing out the rhythms as well as taking the leads on “Sweet Child of Mine” and “It’s So Easy.”

The real problem posed by the new Guns N’ Roses has nothing to do with their execution, which is more than adequate; rather, it’s the simple fact that they’re playing a catalogue that another band (minus one) made famous. Hence, their renditions of the Guns’ classics, no matter how good, can never truly be admired on their own terms, but instead beg the obvious question: how do they compare to the versions played by Slash, Izzy, and Duff? It’s a question that will never truly go away—at least as long as they’re playing anything the former members recorded. Consequently, the promise of new material loomed large over the proceedings, as it provided a much-needed opportunity to consider the new band apart from the Guns’ legacy. Again, the group did not disappoint. “Madagascar,” the first of the new ones, had an epic sweep—recalling both “Estranged” and “November Rain.” It was an excellent vehicle for Rose’s voice and he did not let it go to waste, proving that he still has one of the most distinctive and expressive voices in rock. The song’s middle section featured a meandering Buckethead solo backed by an extended sound collage, which spliced together snippets of a Martin Luther King speech. The second new song played—entitled “The Blues,”—while equally grand, isn’t quite as morose as its name would suggest. It’s a rather upbeat piano-based ballad with soloing duties shared by Buckethead and Finck. But perhaps the most progressive of the three songs unveiled was the title track of the unfinished new album, Chinese Democracy. In addition to being the only thoroughbred rock song of the bunch, it was also the first to incorporate the sound of Nine Inch Nails, a group for which Rose has repeatedly professed his admiration over the past several years. Although it didn’t completely forsake Guns’ classic rock roots, “Democracy” sported an unmistakably industrial veneer. Maybe Finck cribbed some ideas from Reznor before he defected to G N’ R. In any event, all three songs sounded like potential singles. They managed to blend well with the old standards while still making appropriate concessions to contemporary trends.

I wish I could say that the Guns N’ Roses fans were appreciative of the night’s offerings, but many of them seemed too drunk to notice. No fewer than two brawls broke out in the audience prior to the headliner’s set, requiring police intervention in each case. One rowdy individual in my section hurled a trashcan down the stairs, and several fans were seen staggering about the venue with dried vomit stains on their shirtfronts. As might be expected given the crowd’s belligerent disposition, the opening bands—CKY and Mixmaster Mike—were met with mild distaste and outright hostility, respectively. The former at least deserved the chilly reception, as their tuneless take on metal left my friend and I wondering if they’d forgotten to add the S and U to the front end of their name. (The guitarist’s between-song banter on the subject of his girlfriend’s head-giving capabilities was even more appalling than the music.) Beastie Boys DJ, Mixmaster Mike, on the other hand, delivered a fantastic, adrenaline-fueled set, covering everything from Led Zeppelin to Rage Against the Machine. You’d have thought this testosterone-heavy audience would be thrilled by the trip through the rock pantheon, but instead they flashed their middle fingers and booed loudly.

Obnoxious fans aside, the concert proved that the new Guns N’ Roses is capable of building on the band’s proud tradition. This was most certainly not a nostalgia act. Even though they lack visual cohesion, this is a formidable band in its own right—with three songs that attest to their considerable talents. According to Rose himself, we’ll finally be able to hear those songs (along with the rest of the new material) in recorded form when the oft-delayed Chinese Democracy drops in ’03, perhaps as early as March. Until then, consider these shows a sign of good things to come.
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2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL Empty Re: 2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

Post by Blackstar on Fri May 22, 2020 4:58 pm

A fan's letter in Journal and Courier, December 11, 2002:

2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL 2002_190
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2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL Empty Re: 2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

Post by Blackstar on Fri May 29, 2020 3:54 pm

Review in Billboard, November 19, 2002:
Guns N' Roses / Nov. 18, 2002 / Chicago (Allstate Arena)

"Dude, is that an original?" one Guns N' Roses fan incredulously asked another at the Allstate Arena in Chicago last night (Nov. 18), pointing out a graying "Appetite for Destruction" T-shirt and staring at it like it was a Topps Mickey Mantle rookie.

Similar exchanges could be heard throughout the Chicago stop on the GNR "reunion" tour -- a term used in the loosest possible sense. It was a show that, at the very least, finally rewarded fans who've been waiting to retrieve their faded GNR gear from the closet for 10 years. That's way more than just a little patience. But as W. Axl Rose and his new cast of anonymous sidemen proved last night, while the shirts may have been original, the music was anything but.

For two hours, Rose and his overstuffed band fought to emulate the glory days of the long-dead Old Guns, but could only muster an off-target, glitchy set that virtually cried out for Slash or Izzy Stradlin to ride in and rescue it. Sure, the opening notes to "Welcome to the Jungle" sent shock waves through a sold-out crowd that didn't seem to mind the Slashlessness one little bit, and the audience received the arrival of each song in the "Appetite"-heavy set with a raucous, nostalgic glee. In sparse, scattered moments, Guns N' Roses seemed to be back. Sort of.

But really, in what world could this be called "back?" There's no Duff, no Izzy, not even Teddy "Zig Zag" Andreadis on the harmonica. Yeah, those are definitely "Appetite" songs being dusted off, but the whole affair seems like a weird accident. It smacks of inauthenticity. It's just doesn't seem right. It took three guitarists to try to fill the role of Slash, the band frequently missed changes and cues, and Rose himself was a letdown, his voice the victim either of the world's worst microphone technician or pure rust.

The difference between Guns 2002 and Guns 1992, the last time they played Chicago, is like the difference between the '98 Bulls and the '99 Bulls. The old band was legendary for its churning, super-charged grooves as much as its rock-star excesses; it burst with visceral power on stage. There was something organic and human and brutal about the transcendent "Paradise City," the destructive "Welcome to the Jungle" and the still-elegiac "Sweet Child O' Mine," and when the band drew raves as the second coming of the Stones, for a while, it didn't seem all that off-base.

This new band, by contrast, seems like nothing more than parts welded to each other. There's ex-Replacement Tommy Stinson on bass, ex-Primus drummer Brian "Brain" Mantia, and lone Guns holdover Dizzy Reed on keyboards (one wonders how he alone escaped the brunt of Rose's lash for so long). They were a ragged machine that often struggled to stay on the same beat, let alone muster up enough swagger to draw comparisons to the original.

In fact, the new Guns N' Roses seems to have no interest in staking any claim to the old material at all. They're playing Slash's notes, Xeroxing drummer Matt Sorum's beats, playing bass like Duff McKagan played bass. And there's too many of them. With two keyboardists and three guitarists, Guns' new sound is certainly fleshed out, but between the bizarre Buckethead, ex-Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck, and Richard Fortus, it was like a joust for playing time.

Early in the show, takes on the punkier tracks "Think About You," "It's So Easy," and even "Mr. Brownstone" were all over the map, and Buckethead and Finck's cracks at Slash's solos on "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "You Could Be Mine" were littered with flat notes. Of particular offense was Finck's massacre of the "November Rain" solo, which was his worst offense of the night until he wandered directly in the path of a charging Axl during "Patience."

Then there's the matter of Rose, who, in recent years, has taken to the rock spotlight like John Steinbeck would take to book signings at Borders. As his near-wreck with Finck proved, his stage demeanor remains untouched -- he still prowls the arena like a predator hunting down the next note, still sprints across the stage, still does his shimmy dance with workmanlike precision.

One rumor that can be quashed is the one about Axl's supposed chunkiness. On this night, he appeared lean and energetic, though he's swapped his Charles Manson t-shirts, bandanas, and wince-inducingly short spandex trunks for football jerseys (Michael Vick's and Chicago's own Brian Urlacher's, in this case), workout pants, and dreadlocks. Most importantly, it's clear that, poor sound mix or not, his voice doesn't have the juice it once did. He sounded especially strained on "November Rain" and "My Michelle."

Still, all was not lost. Rose's voice finally snapped into place and conjured up the Axl of old on "Nightrain," while "Paradise City" and "Sweet Child O' Mine" quickly became house sing-alongs that drowned out the singer. The band wasn't without its moments, either, catching fire midway through "You Could Be Mine" and blazing through "Nightrain" as well.

But there's still no hard evidence that this comeback will finally result in Rose's alleged "Chinese Democracy" album. GNR debuted just three new songs, one of which (the vaguely industrial title track) worked up a decent lather. The other new offerings were the unremarkable ballads "The Blues" and "Madagascar," the latter of which may prove the most problematic to Rose. With its drum machines and hip-hop beat, "Madagascar" was the most logical link to oddly-selected opener Mixmaster Mike, who tore his turntables up with spitfire precision and skill but received a surprisingly hostile response from the crowd.

This should be alarming news to Rose. If, as rumored, his new material is heavy on the industrial bells and whistles, and Mike fares as poorly on the rest of the tour as he did in Chicago, Rose may want to consider bagging the electronic business and dialing up Slash after all.

At this point, you might be hard-pressed to find anyone who wouldn't think that's a good call. The original incarnation of Guns N' Roses was a perfect snapshot of the time; a furious blend of hedonistic, whiskey-soaked, guitar-and-groove rock n' flippin' roll. This incarnation is too little, too late. "Been hiding out and layin' low, it's nothin' new to me," Rose spit on the "Appetite" anti-establishment anthem "Out Ta Get Me," but though his decade-long slumber has given them new meaning, on this night, the words clanged hollowly off the walls of the arena.

Here is Guns N' Roses setlist:

"Welcome to the Jungle"
"It's So Easy"
"Mr. Brownstone"
"Live and Let Die"
"Knockin' on Heaven's Door"
"Think About You"
"You Could Be Mine"
"Sweet Child O' Mine"
"Out Ta Get Me"
"November Rain"
"Madagascar"
Buckethead solo
"Rocket Queen"
"The Blues"
"My Michelle"
"Patience"
"Chinese Democracy"
"Nightrain"
"Paradise City"

-- Jeff Vrabel, Chicago
https://web.archive.org/web/20021207222828/http://www.billboard.com/billboard/livereviews/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1764451
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2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL Empty Re: 2002.11.18 - Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

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