So 2016 is a few heartbeats away and it appears that this year will bring about one of the most anticipated “rock reunions” of all time. All together now, Guns n Roses!, Guns n Roses!” Ok, I admit that does feel pretty damn good. Guns n Roses largely contributed to the soundtrack of my youth. I was there from the very beginning.
Well ok, maybe not the sunset strip “pre-record deal” beginning but I eagerly awaited the release of that glorious debut album from my small Canadian hometown before ever hearing a note of music. I was already a card carrying metal-head, a concert veteran and I had read all about the buzz that GnR were creating. They looked the part, had already been endorsed my some of my favourite bands and that was enough for me to be at the record store July 21, 1987, to purchase Appetite for Destruction.
Truly one of the greatest hard rock records ever to be captured on tape. The raw intensity, emotion, anger and groove that Mike Clink was able to harness on this record, this perfect, perfect record is insane. I was a good year ahead of the mainstream “explosion” that was about to transpire that catapulted Guns to the biggest band in the world. One of my fondest memories was standing in line at the high school cafeteria in the spring of 88’ and in front of me was one of the High School jocks. This was right out of the Breakfast Club, short hair, polo shirt, football jacket and he says to me, “Dude, Guns n Roses are fucking amazing man and you were onto them last year!” Yep, that was me, proudly spreading the disease to anyone willing to listen.
I LOVED THIS BAND. They were raw, intense and played so completely over the edge. They were dangerous and they were a “gang” in every sense of the word. Live, they were a sweat soaked sloppy mess but a glorious rock n’ roll mess it was. OH, and before I go any further THEY WERE A FUCKING HAIR BAND! As much as they deny it, they hit the scene with as much aqua net as the Crue, Poison and the rest of the ilk. Slash, Duff, Axl, Izzy and Steven are who made the magic. Go Youtube some of those 1986 shows and you will see what made this band so special. So raw, so raunchy, so much fun!
Two months after the release of Appetite, Guns n Roses came to Toronto opening up for The Cult at CNE Stadium and although I could not go, I handed my buddy some cash so I could indeed sport a GnR T-shirt the next day at school. That shirt was a badge of honour until I could go and see them live for myself. Unfortunately, that was going to be a while as it would not be until June of 1991 when I would finally see GnR live.
So, a lot happens in 5 years so to recap, I started reading about them back in 86, finally got to enjoy the debut album in 87, got my T-shirt that same year, devoured the Lies EP in 1988 and sometime in 1989 I stumbled along a bootleg CD entitled No Refrain. By this time the Gunners were hard at work at what would become Use Your Illusion, No Refrain was mostly some live tracks, some covers but ended with a demo version of “November Rain”.
It was June 7, 1991 when I would finally see Guns and F’n Roses. A concert memory that I will forever cherish. Skid Row were the support band and support they did. The Skids tore that stage apart with a focused and furious set that left me half spent before Guns even took the stage, Oh how I love rock n roll! Anyways, Guns n Roses took the stage and rocked solid for over two hours. It was a great concert but the energy ebbed and flowed because the Illusion album(s) were still 3 months from being released. The only new song we knew was “November Rain” (via the bootleg) so over half the material had never been heard before. Hard to sing along when it’s the first listen. That said, I finally got to see GnR live, albeit without Mr. Adler, and it was pretty special.
They rolled back through the CNE the following year, September 13, 1992, on the infamous Metallica tour. Same stage set up but the band that took the stage looked and performed nothing like the previous year. Izzy was gone and there must have been 20 people onstage, keyboards, horn section, backup singers? They were bloated, the edginess and danger were gone. Sorry people but Metallica blew them off stage that night (before they too became bloated and full of themselves). It was a good show, glad I was there but Guns left me wondering what happened to the band I loved so much in 87? So the answer is YES, I have indeed seen Guns n Roses Live…Twice! Oh and Izzy did indeed make a difference, that first show was far more rock n’ roll than the second time through, no offense to Gilby.
I bought Spaghetti Incident and felt the collection of covers contained absolutely none of the chemistry that Guns n Roses once possessed. The dismantling of the band followed and ever the loyal fan I kept tabs on each of the member’s solo endeavours. Some I enjoyed, others were not for me and I actually looked forward to and enjoyed the Chinese Democracy album, although I don’t consider it a Guns n Roses record. As the years went by I longed for the date that the original five would once again take the stage, any stage and rock the world once again. I honestly never even thought it was possible until I heard Adler’s last solo record, demons aside he put out a great rock n’ roll record. I spin that one far more than any of the post Appetite/Lies era.
A year or so ago I needed a fix and I picked up the Appetite for Democracy Blu-Ray. To be honest, I was taken aback at just how solid that performance was. Axl’s band was TIGHT and I thoroughly and surprisingly enjoyed that DVD. Still, though, I selfishly dreamed of the day that the Appetite lineup would play music one more time. Look the Eagles did it, KISS did it, eventually, enough cash would be dangled and it would happen. I have no “illusions” (see what I did there?) that a reunion now would be the result of a massive payday for the guys but so what? I remember seeing the 96/97 KISS reunion and feeling so happy, so much joy, it truly turned the clocks back and made me feel like a kid again. A Guns n Roses reunion would mirror those emotions for me. So the whole “cash-grab” argument is of no consequence for me, that’s entirely why bands do these reunion tours to begin with. I don’t have a problem with that.
So with 2015 drawing to a close it has been reported that the Guns n Roses “reunion” is poised for 2016 with some possible festival dates followed by a stadium tour to follow next summer. WARNING: Mightier than Thou commentary: Just as the party is about to begin, it seems that all that is required for a Guns n Roses “Reunion” is Axl, Slash and Duff? Ah….no, this is where I get off the ride. Last I checked there were 5 members of the band. My Guns and Roses included Izzy and Steven.
For the masses, I am most certain that Axl, Slash and Duff will be enough. Legally it can be called a reunion and I am sure tickets will fly and money will be made. Look there is a whole generation (or two even!) that never got to witness Axl, Slash and Duff onstage the first go round, to them I say ENJOY! Sixty percent of Guns and Roses is far better than most anything out on the road these days.
Make no bones about it, Appetite for Destruction is what got this band into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. That band/album allowed the self-indulgence of the Illusion records to happen, that band/album is the reason that the promoters are dangling the huge sums of cash now. THAT BAND is what should be reuniting to make it truly something special. Steven and Izzy should be included.
Izzy was there from the start and contributed to the songwriting, the sound and the chemistry of this great band. Now there are some that have reported that he does not have any interest in re-joining the band, fair enough. Maybe that’s true, then someone get Gilby on the phone I think he might remember the licks.
Steven is another story altogether. There isn’t anyone that wants to be a part of this reunion more than Steven Adler. He paid the price for his mistakes, he did his sentence and he is truly lucky to be above ground today. Some say he is no longer capable of handling a tour. To this, I cry Bullshit! He recently came through Toronto last August and proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that he can handle the skins. The classic GnR material was played solid that night. Maybe a large scale tour is something different, maybe they are just worried about relapsing demons? Fact is they are all former addicts, so bring out Matt Sorum as a backup or a second drummer. Schedule the tour to include time off with proper rest, it’s completely do-able if they want it to happen. Make it comfortable and healthy and Steven would make that tour SPECIAL.
As it is right now, I won’t open my wallet for an Axl, Slash and Duff reunion, I was hoping for 1987 not 1993. Last I checked, I was actually entitled to have an opinion and I want to thank the Decibel Geek for allowing me a vehicle to share it with all of you. So no I “simply won’t be happy”, don’t really feel like “backing the fuck off” and how is that for “shutting the fuck up”?
Wallygator “P” Norton (apparently the P stands for Prick)