Surviving Guns N’ Roses

Axl Rose of Guns N Roses tears it up at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, NJ. Photo by Mike Smith, more commonly known as Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys fame (

I saw Guns N’ Roses last Thursday and I’m still recovering. Why? Because this was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. In the interest of full disclosure, maybe it was because the concert started at 11 PM, but it was definitely worth it.

Guns N’ Roses spent three hours playing on stage, from their classics to their modern stuff. I don’t care what you say; Chinese Democracy was an awesome album, and it was great to hear the new material live.

So why is Guns N’ Roses important to me? Maybe its one part nostalgia, having grown up in the 1980s/1990s. The other part is that Axl Rose has always been so enigmatic. Since the original version of the band went on hiatus back in the early 1990s, he appears every now and then, releasing something interesting. And before you know it, back he goes to reinvent himself.

Axl also reminds me a lot of some of my favorite comic creators. He’s a lot like Steve Ditko in the sense that he’s pretty elusive. He has Mark Millar’s bombastic personality and desire to be extremely selective of who he collaborates with. Axl even reminds me of Grant Morrison, as the two of them exist in their own surreal universe that we can only barely comprehend.

I would have to say that Axl is definitely a superhero. Current Guns N’ Roses reminds me a lot of the Future Foundation over at Marvel Comics. While that group is Mister Fantastic assembling the brightest minds of the planet to find solutions to global problems, Axl has assembled a group of some of the most talented musicians around to form an awesome rock and roll band–something that is severely lacking in this world.

I saw Slash and Duff’s post-GNR band Velvet Revolver, and they couldn’t match the energy and enthusiasm that Axl’s new group has. That’s not an insult, I just like the current version of GNR a lot more. Maybe the path of how Axl got there was difficult and long for everyone involved, but the end result was worth it.

Axl Rose and Bumblefoot tear it up during "November Rain". Photo courtesy DiegoRose from the MyGNRForum.

Anyway, back to the concert.

Everything in this band worked so well that night. Axl Rose ran around screaming like a maniac. I don’t know where the whole “he’s out of breath and can’t perform” meme came from. He had the same level of over the top energy from their first song “Chinese democracy” to their closer “Paradise City.” He’s a beast. The triumvirate of guitarists–Richard Fortus, Bumblefoot and DJ Ashba–can shred with the best of them. Tommy Stinson (or as Axl called him, “the replacement from the Replacements’) laid down a thunderous groove, and his cover of “My Generation” rocked.

Bottom line: Axl and company have it. I’m hoping they stick around for a while and record some more new material. I think I’m going to try to go see them this Saturday night in Camden.

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