Live: Guns N’ Roses Played Webster Hall, Which We Refuse to Call The Ritz

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02/16/2012 1:56 PM |

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Before the show began, there were three popular topics of discussion in the upstairs bar: 1) the New York Knicks; 2) “Who the fuck are the Toilet Boys?” (the opening band); and 3) what time would Axl Rose and the rest of Guns N’ Roses take the stage at Webster Hall, dubbed “The Ritz,” its former name, for one night only to celebrate the band’s historic 1988 performance there.

Roughly an hour after “Linsanity” rolled on with the Knicks winning their seventh straight game, and the Runaways-meets-80s excess Toilet Boys played a poorly-received 40-minute set, the now eight-man Gn’R came out a few minutes before midnight (two hours after doors opened), greeted by the theme from Dexter playing over the PA.

If you closed your eyes, they sure sounded like Guns N’ Roses, even if they looked like Axl Rose N’ Bumblefoot/Bassist from the Replacements. The group’s flamboyant, bombastic, slowed-down-punk-for-the meat-and-potatoes-and-cocaine-crowd sound was still there, and “Welcome to the Jungle,” “It’s So Easy,” “Mr. Brownstone,” and “Rocket Queen” are still as aggressive and menacing (and great) as they were when Slash was a member of the group. The crowd was singing along, the mosh pit was physical—I got pulled from behind by the hood on my hoodie at one point, and multiple people were bleeding before the clock hit 1 a.m.— and Axl, ever the showman, was as good as ever, his voice having lost none of its unmistakable stuttering, yowling tone.

But then came the solos, with nearly every member of the group represented, including guitarists Richard Fortus and DJ Ashba and long-time keyboard/piano player Dizzy Reed, while Axl ran off stage to change his shirt, put on another hat and headband combination, and do whatever else Axl does when he’s not being watched. (If ever you should see Guns N’ Roses live, watch Axl’s face while he’s on stage; it’s a fascinating combination of being happy to make so many other people happy, mixed with the contempt that egomaniacs feel when they do become famous, like he’s not sure whether to love us for knowing the words or hate us because we expect too much from him.)

And then came the covers, including the James Bond theme, an instrumental “Baba O’Riley,” and a full-band jam to “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2,” not to mention Axl’s piano lead-up to “November Rain” with snippets from “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” For awhile, it was cheesy and kind of cute, but two hours into the show, after multiple extended, unnecessary riffs used primarily to let Axl disappear again, it’s tough getting TOO pumped up for Bumblefoot’s cover of “The Pink Panther Theme.” In some ways, this current incarnation of Guns N’ Roses is a tribute band, albeit one with the original singer intact — and who wants to hear a Gn’R tribute band performing Elton John covers?

That said, “November Rain” is still the perfect power ballad, though a large can of Monster Energy Drink now rests on Axl’s black piano, instead of Stephanie Seymour. (Damn.) When Guns N’ Roses put aside the filler and went back to playing “Nightrain,” “My Michelle,” and set-closer “Paradise City,” both the crowd and the band seemed to regain the stamina they had previously lost. In all, they played for three hours, nearly an hour longer than was necessary (and yes, I realize the hypocrisy of criticizing a band known for its garishness and excess, a band that released two 80-minute albums on the same day, on playing too long.) But when the show was good, as much of it was, it was good. “Where do we go now?” Axl once asked. I’m not sure, but it’s nice that you’re at least invested again. Now if only those Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame rumors come to fruition…

13 Comment

  • Poorly received by YOU perhaps. I was up on stage drumming and saw a lot of people having a great time and enjoying our set.

    Eddie, drummer of Toilet Boys

  • “Which We Refuse to Call The Ritz”

    I also refuse to call that Guns n Roses

  • I think it’s funny when a band plays over 30 songs from their entire catalog & you are complaining the set was too long… Was it past your bedtime? You obviously are not & never were a G N’ R fan. I can’t wait for the Atlantic City Show… I got Van Halen Tix & could care less compared to seeing G N’ R in a CLUB!

  • it’s not GnR stupid. just a tired axel + some hired drones

  • @Tony I enjoyed when they were playing Guns N’ Roses’ songs

  • Absolutely Incredible Show! G-N-R is more talented and far better now. Please don’t change a thing. These guys are the real deal.

  • now what was the point of saying they were a tribute band, as if NO ONE else has said before you, the same thing over and over again, oh for real you say? SMH It’s as if folks have to say in order to be cook, show support for the former members or some dumb mess, also as it’s if your anticipating that someone won’t like you if you don’t say “they’re a cover band” or something. Please get over it, the former members aren’t coming back so cover them with some respect without taking the uncessary status quo shots or just leave them alone, they’re plenty of others who like the new band while of course they’re many that don’t, it’s that simple.

  • Also by saying that, is it supposed to make the new members feel bad or “aware” as if they aren’t already aware of where they stand?

  • The original Guns N Roses played covers and had instrumental solos too.

  • I love how people call it “Axl + some hired guns” when many of the bandmembers have been part of the band for longer than the original members, and have contributed to new GnR material.

  • Either way you look at it, without that primal howl of Axl’s, it wouldnt be GN’R. Slash brought the blues, but these new guys bring a different element to the songs. I saw them in NJ and it was by far the most energy I ever felt at a show. LOVED EVERY G** DAMN SOLO. Its Rock N’ Roll. I wouldn’t be against a reunion though ;)

  • You people are deranged. Axl Rose is not Guns n Roes by himself. And playing on Chinese Democracy is not a credit to anyone.

    Guess the Toilet Boys fan board decided to troll this thread.

  • Very true the old band did the same solo thIng “Only Women Bleed” “Wild Horses” Plus ever critic tht don’t like them calls them a cover band, not an original thought at all dude…zzzz