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2002.12.02 - The National Post - Knock, Knock, Knockin’ On Nostalgia's Door (Dizzy)

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2002.12.02 - The National Post - Knock, Knock, Knockin’ On Nostalgia's Door (Dizzy) Empty 2002.12.02 - The National Post - Knock, Knock, Knockin’ On Nostalgia's Door (Dizzy)

Post by Blackstar on Thu May 21, 2020 3:10 pm

This is basically a review of the show in Toronto on Nov. 29, 2002, but it contains a short interview with Dizzy, so I included it in this section as well.

2002.12.02 - The National Post - Knock, Knock, Knockin’ On Nostalgia's Door (Dizzy) 2002_163


Knock, knock, knockin’ on nostalgia's door

Guns N’ Roses try hard to recapture the glory days

By Aaron Wherry

When the explosive opening chords of Welcome to the Jungle ended the long wait on Friday night at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, it felt as though Guns N’ Roses were indeed back. For a few precious seconds it was like watching the biggest band in the world, with all their excitement and of-the-moment edge. But after the initial rush came the cold, hard truth that this was, in fact, 2002, and Guns N’ Roses were a decidedly 1992 band.

Oh, what a strange 10 years it’s been for the once monster kings of ’80s rock. In 1991 they seemed at the height of their powers with Use Your Illusion I and II, but then came Nirvana and, just as quickly as they had swept aside hair metal, Guns N’ Roses too were relegated to the history books.

But there was, we were promised, another album — one that would reclaim the throne once occupied by Axl, Slash, Duff, Izzy, Dizzy and the gang. But then band members started to abandon ship. Axl disappeared, only to resurface periodically with news of his endlessly impending album.

Producers came and went; release dates were set and cancelled. Public appearances and performances were few and far between. Comeback tours were rumoured, but never materialized.

Now, to some extent, they’re back.

While only Axl remains from the original lineup, keyboardist Dizzy Reed is the other link to the past. A friend of the eccentric Rose, Reed was plucked from obscurity in 1990 to join the Use Your Illusion sessions. While others have come and gone, Reed, ever thankful to Rose for giving him his break, has stayed.

“I really believe in what we were doing. I’m the kind of person that when I start something I want to finish it. I’m damned determined to stick this thing out. And also I have nothing to fall back on,” Reed said with a laugh in an interview last week.

Like many GNR diehards, Reed still loves to wax nostalgic about the glory days — when the groupies were plentiful, the hits kept coming and the fame was intense.

“When I came along it was already to the point of flying on a chartered jet everywhere. So I skipped the whole bus thing and went straight to the plane. It was literally like one day I was living my life-long dream to be in a big, giant, touring rock band. I was having a blast, there’s no question about that,” he said.

But now, the wild childs we knew and loved have been replaced by a motley crew of castaways — from the mysterious Buckethead to ex-Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck.

The tone, Reed said, has also changed. Guns N’ Roses can no longer count on sellout crowds, magazine covers and top 10 singles. After a decade of teasing and rarely delivering, this band will have to offer much more than a rousing comeback tour if they hope to keep this return from fading into the realm of short-lived novelty act.

“You can definitely tell that people are expecting a lot. So you want to come out and kick their ass as best you can. And that’s what we try to do every night,” Reed said.

After an opening-night cancellation and riot in Vancouver, it seemed the only asses being kicked were outside the arena. Subsequent tour stops were met with a lukewarm reaction and empty seats.

The ACC was, for the most part, packed on Friday night (though it should be noted that scalpers were offering prices below cost). A surprising number of young fans, many of whom couldn’t possibly have been old enough to remember much of GNR Version 1.0, nearly filled the arena to capacity. What they witnessed can best be described as a Beavis and Butt-head wet dream.

While the crowd waited for Axl & Co. to take to the stage (only 45 minutes late on this night), a voice over the PA system encouraged women to “get ’em out” and the in-house camera spent the next three-quarters of an hour stalking young ladies while the crowd urged them to bare all. Two dozen or so women, and even a few men, happily obliged with a bevy of boobs, bras, thongs, girl-on-girl action and even one fist fight. Yup, it was that kind of night.

The show itself was all about excess. Explosions, fancy lights, fireworks, sparks, fog, confetti, a video tribute to Martin Luther King and at least four costume changes for Axl nearly made up for what was, musically, an entirely average, if not boring, evening.

The ever-entertaining Buckethead tried to keep things interesting with a nunchucks demonstration, a guitar-shredding rendition of the Star Wars theme, a robot dance routine and action figure gifts for the crowd, while Axl was downright playful, kibitzing with the crowd and even cracking jokes (though his use of TelePrompTers was downright sad).

But with exception of the aforementioned opener and old favourites Sweet Child O’ Mine, November Rain and Paradise City (the show’s big finale), the band seemed bland and the crowd seemed bored — some even leaving before the first encore.

It was all sort of like getting together one night with a few old high school chums for a beer. For a few hours you step back in time, to laugh at old jokes and retell tales of yesteryear. And while it’s fun for a little while, by the end of the night you’re more than happy to say goodbye and head back to the real world.

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