Guns N Roses At Madison Square Garden, Wednesday, October 11th, 2017, Reviewed
“Despite Duff’s fine “New Rose” and Slash’s prophetic “Speak Softly Love” instrumental, they basked in the shadow of the insane and crazed, energetic inclined, half cocked, fully loaded speed based delivery of a mix of GNR and hard rock classics, Rose. The entire night reached a height as great as I ever hope to hear at any concert.” I wrote those words 15 months ago, catching GNR at MetLife, July 2017 (here). And how I wish I’d left it there but instead I showed up last night, for the first night of their MSG residency, and how I wish I hadn’t.
GNR weren’t BAD at MSG, they were just big and bloated and Slash played solo after solo after solo while the evening seemed to never end, it went past three hours and every time Axl moved to the edge of the stage to give Slash his shot I wanted to leave. In 2016, Axl had Slash under control, yeah, he got his moment in the sun to shine on you crazy guitarist with the usual bunch of improvised today the same as yesterday’s, bringing out that Gibson EDS-1275 Double Neck, a twelve string under a six string, and all riffs all the time, on song after song after song. I have grown past my old punky sense that, as Pete Townshend put it, they invented the solo to kill time when concerts went from 20 minutes to 90, but enough already. GNR are a hard rock garage band made good, they aren’t a buncha muso wankers except guess what? They are now musos, and boring boring boring ones.
I’ve seen Axl loads of time, this is the first time I found myself nodding off. So many mistakes, so many missteps, so many unforced errors. How about following “Sweet Child O’ Mine” with “Wichita Lineman”? Why? Your fucking set has been spinning its wheels for two hours straight, and you’ve finally really start rolling it and then you derail it. Look, Axl can sing “Wichita Lineman” no doubt, but it is neither the right time nor the right song. At Metlife, before the encore they played, “November Rain,” “Knockin On Heaven’s Door” and “Nighttrain”. Last night it went “November Rain,” “BLACK HOLE SUN,” “Knockin On Heaven’s Door” and “Nighttrain. Again, the momentum went South for the winter. At Metlife they performed 24 songs, at MSG, 30. They added 20% more to the show and there was no reason at all. They just don’t have the catalog to sustain it. The eighth to the 14th song of the evening could have been ripped out and the evening would have been vastly improved. That “Civil War”-“Coma” axis of Axl is numbing. And if you have Pink backstage, she came out during the encore, why only give her one verse? Don’t you think we’ve had enough of you guys for one long long long evening?
It is time for Axl to fire Slash again, I preferred his band in 2005, Buckethead is much more fun, to this one. Slim down the set to two hours of hits, then go out for a five day bender. I have never seen a band fuck themselves over like this. A huge mistake.