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Concert Reviews

Concert review: Guns N’ Roses

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Yep, that’s really Axl Rose performing with Guns N’ Roses at the Joint on December 31 — no, seriously.
Photo: Erik Kabik/RETNA

The Details

Guns N' Roses
Three and a half stars
December 31, The Joint

As he introduced the members of the current incarnation of Guns N’ Roses during the band’s New Year’s Eve show at the Joint, frontman Axl Rose carefully noted how long each person had been in the band. If Rose is a little defensive about his latest bandmates, he has good reason, since the majority of press about Guns N’ Roses still mentions musicians who haven’t been in the band in a decade or more.

Would a show featuring those guys be exciting to see? Sure, but it isn’t going to happen, and the band that Rose has assembled instead sounds pretty damn good. Despite his reputation for being quick-tempered and chronically tardy, Rose took the stage just a few minutes after the band’s scheduled start time, and he looked energetic and happy throughout the show. More importantly, his voice sounded great, keeping its power for the entirety of the marathon three-hour concert.

That is, when he wasn’t taking his frequent offstage downtime, which came during nearly every instrumental break of every song, as well as during the lengthy solos afforded to five of the seven band members. Those diversions stalled the momentum of what was otherwise a tight, entertaining show, making its epic length sometimes more of a chore than a treat.

But when the band was in sync on classic GNR songs like “It’s So Easy,” “You Could Be Mine” and “Nightrain,” the music sounded as good as any performance by the classic lineup. And it was a pleasure to hear more songs from the Use Your Illusion era than had been featured on previous tours, including impeccable versions of “Estranged” and “Civil War.” The seven songs from 2008 album Chinese Democracy were less thrilling, and a pair of AC/DC covers (“Whole Lotta Rosie,” “Riff Raff”) brought more liveliness than dirges like “Sorry” and “This I Love.” But Rose and his band gave their all for the duration of the show, working hard to prove that the Guns N’ Roses of 2011 (or 2012) is as worthy of the name as those who came before.

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