PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Guns N’ Roses: 11 December 2011 – Broomfield, CO

I have no idea who the guys now supporting Axl are, but on old G n' R classics, Axl was in prime form.

Guns N’ Roses

Guns N’ Roses

City: Broomfield, CO
Venue: 1stBank Center
Date: 2011-12-11

At one point in our lives, we all thought Axl Rose, and therefore Guns N’ Roses, was brilliant. Or if not, at least you knew that "November Rain" was beautiful. But in that song, Axl may have predicted his own future. "Nothing lasts forever," he sang. "And we both know hearts can change."

As I sat towards the back of Broomfield, Colorado’s 1stBank Center and watched Axl perform in December, flagged by six musicians who claimed to be Guns N’ Roses but were anything but that band, I felt pulled in two directions. I thought of the buffoonery that Axl has graced us with over the years -- childish outbursts on stage, songs full of threats, riots incited. And meanwhile I was brought back to the moments of my childhood when I was captivated for hours by the music of Guns N’ Roses. Whether it was "November Rain", "Don’t Cry", or even "Mr. Brownstone" and "You Could Be Mine" (all of which were played that night), like it or not, Guns N’ Roses had a major influence on my musical upbringing. And the same is true for a lot of my generation.

I’ll admit that a piece of me was hoping Axl would pull some stunt halfway through the show and I’d get to see first hand how he’d gotten his reputation. Unfortunately, I missed the famed two-year Use Your Illusion Tour on account that, when it started in 1991, I was seven. This was my first and, more than likely, only chance to see the circus. What I got was the exact opposite -- an Axl Rose who I thought was actually concerned with impressing his audience, as opposed to the Axl of ’92 who’d have probably told the eight-year-old me to fuck off for asking for an autograph. I’m not sure which one is worse, but I’m also not sure which one I appreciate more.

It goes without saying that I had a sour taste in my mouth the entire show -- and not just thanks to the $9.00 Pabst Blue Ribbon (which by the way, I loved every sip of). Since I’ve become conscious of idiocy and egoism, I’ve pretty much associated those words with Axl Rose. It didn’t help his cause that, at the door, we were informed by a security guard that he was instructed to "check our shirts." When I asked further, he said, "If you’re wearing an old Guns N’ Roses shirt, you have to take it off. If he sees too many, Axl will walk off stage." The band that made Axl Rose famous is no more. Slash is on his own. Duff McKagan has a book out, and is the founder of a wealth management firm. The only guy left from the early '90s is Dizzy Reed. If I’m being honest with you, I have no idea who the guys now supporting Axl are, and they may as well be impersonating those that came before them. The fact of the matter is Guns N’ Roses was not only Axl, it was Slash, Duff, Matt Sorum, Izzy Stradlin and Steven Adler. Except for the songs, this is not the same band.

But we knew that.

On stage, Axl dons either a black leather cowboy hat or a white one -- he switched throughout the show. He wears blue jeans and a shirt that’s not too tight. His iconic red bandana is hanging from his back pocket. While he sings, he runs around the huge stage, onto the wings, up onto the 10-foot drum platform, and he dances like he used to -- except with more breaks, and less fluidity. There are pyrotechnics timed with the music, and video clips on huge screens behind the stage. The three current guitarists -- Richard Fortus, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, and DJ Ashba -- trade solos depending on the song. Each of them does their damnedest to look and sound like Slash in their own way -- whether it be the cigarette in the mouth, the hair over the face, or the guitar hoisted toward the sky. When Axl gets tired, he introduces another of the band members and lets them take the reigns for a song. During these moments, which grew longer and more frequent as the show dragged on, we were treated to covers of "The Pink Panther", Pink Floyd’s "Another Brick in the Wall", and a practically unlistenable piano-based instrumental of "Baba O’Riley".

But it was the moments towards the beginning of the show and drizzled throughout the later part that brought back memories of loving Guns N’ Roses -- "Welcome to the Jungle" and "Sweet Child O’ Mine", "Estranged" and "It’s So Easy". Axl was in prime form, and he reminded the not-quite-sold-out crowd why he’s still so famous. Some pretty incredible music came out of those very few years. Despite the negative press attention, protests, riots, stints in rehab and famed feuds, Guns N’ Roses still managed to sell out multiple 80,000-seat stadiums around the world during one of the longest single tours in history. It’s a shame that some people can’t leave the past in the past -- but instead keep chasing the fame they once had. Today, they can’t even sell out a 6,000-seat arena in a major metropolitan area, and though the memory of what the band name stood for in the '90s still remains, that’s pretty much all there is.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."


50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.


Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.


The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.


Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.


'Waiting Out the Storm' with Jeremy Ivey

On Waiting Out the Storm, Jeremy Ivey apologizes for present society's destruction of the environment and wonders if racism still exists in the future and whether people still get high and have mental health issues.


Matt Berninger Takes the Mic Solo on 'Serpentine Prison'

Serpentine Prison gives the National's baritone crooner Matt Berninger a chance to shine in the spotlight, even if it doesn't push him into totally new territory.


MetalMatters: The Best New Heavy Metal Albums of September 2020

Oceans of Slumber thrive with their progressive doom, grind legends Napalm Death make an explosive return, and Anna von Hausswolff's ambient record are just some of September's highlights.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.