Another Guns N’ Roses release? It’s only been six years since the last one, Axl, your standards must be slipping. And judging by the shambles that’s on display on “Appetite For Democracy” then never a truer word has been said about Mr. Rose and his backing band of random musicians looking to bolster their CV because this live CD/DVD package (also available on 3D Blu-ray) just backs up any negative press the band have received since their – or Axl Rose‘s – ‘comeback’ waaaaay back in 2001.
For starters, if you had a song like ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ in your arsenal then wouldn’t you open with it as a bold statement of intent, just like on “Appetite For Destruction”? The band opt to open with ‘Chinese Democracy’, a song as dull and nondescript as the album it is originally from before ‘… Jungle’ is teased out. The street-level grit and vitriol that the song once possessed is gone in favour of a slick, workmanlike performance that sounds like the sort of band that you would normally see in a Las Vegas nightclub as part of a cabaret show. However, whilst the band are clearly competent musicians and can play it’s Axl Rose himself who sounds even more out of place, wheezing his way through the song like he’s on a Rosemary Conley workout and trying to remember the lyrics at the same time.
But that performance pales against the rendition of ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ where the frontman doesn’t even sound like himself anymore. It may be his way of softening his voice for the ballad but unless you’re watching the DVD you’d swear it was a guest vocalist brought on while Axl gets his adrenaline shot backstage. Speaking of the DVD, whilst it is professionally shot and looks fantastic and full of colour, any film students looking to know more about how to make quick edits could do worse than look at this because it’s cut like a Michael Bay action sequence sped up. Not suggesting that they don’t want the camera to linger on Axl for too long of course…
The performance clocks in at over two-and-a-half hours and the setlist does contain all the songs you’d want to hear from a Guns N’ Roses show – ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, ‘Civil War’, ‘Paradise City’, ‘Mr. Brownstone’, ‘You Could Be Mine’, ‘November Rain’, etc. – and some covers, like the staples of Bob Dylan‘s ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ and Wings‘ ‘Live and Let Die’, but somebody really should have talked them out of doing Pink Floyd‘s ‘Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)’ because their melancholic take on it nearly bring things to a halt. However, they do a spirited run through The Who‘s ‘The Seeker’ and do it justice, ironically making it sound more vital and energised than any of their own songs.
At the heart of any great live performance is the songs and Guns N’ Roses do have a back catalogue of surefire winners to win over any crowd, and the crowd at The Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas do look like they’re having a great time but to be honest, I’d probably look like I’m having the time of my life by being in Vegas in the crowd for a live show that’s being filmed whilst having a stripper shaking her arse in my face. Only afterwards when the fuss has died down and I look back at the night’s event would I think to myself “Yeah, I had a good time tonight – a few drinks, a strip show, a bit of a singlong but boy, that tribute band sounded limp”. If you want to hear the classic Guns N’ Roses songs performed live with a bit of balls then former guitarist Slash‘s “Made in Stoke 24/7/11” album is a better bet. Yeah, it’s not the original Guns N’ Roses either but the spirit is there and Myles Kennedy can actually sing, which is a huge advantage when you’re a singer.
Guns N’ Roses were once dubbed ‘the most dangerous band in the world’; change the word ‘dangerous’ for ‘hilarious’ or ’embarassing’ and that pretty much sums up what they represent on this package. A total train wreck.