Review: Guns N' Roses at the Fillmore Silver Spring Feb. 23

MusicEntertainmentPoliticsGuns N' Roses (music group)DemocracySlash (music artist)Disc Jockeys

Guns N' Roses performed at the Fillmore Silver Spring Thursday night. Contributor Jeremy 'Jay' Trucker has this review.

Say what you want about Axl Rose’s erratic touring schedule and late-night performances, but when the man shows up for a gig, he sticks around for a while.  That was certainly the case at the Fillmore on Thursday night, where Guns N' Roses took the stage just after midnight, playing a three-hour set of more than 30 songs for what looked like an at-capacity crowd.

Openers Electric Sun handled the unenviable job of playing to a packed house of fans more engaged in prognostications about GnR’s enigmatic singer than in watching them. 

For those wondering,

Axl’s hair: covered with a large hat, but at least not cornrowed

Axl’s weight: covered with layers.  Paunchy but not his paunchiest.

Axl’s face:  covered with sunglasses.  Lifted.

As the Chinese Democracy Tour begins its second decade (the band has been performing in the U.S. in support of the long-in-the-works album since 2001), Axl’s latest band includes an impressive stable of musicians.

Standouts include a guy named Bumblefoot, who looks like he may have wandered directly off a six-month hiking trek and into GnR, and former Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson, who has now been a replacement member of GnR longer than he was a Replacement.  Drummer Frank Ferrer was turned way down in the club mix, but his precision and force is more Matt Sorum than Stephen Adler.  DJ Ashba seems to have been brought in for his ability to wear a top hat and smoke cigarettes ala Slash.

The technical proficiency and sheer size of the band, now an eight-piece with two keyboardists and three guitarists, lends itself more naturally to big, busy songs like “Estranged,” which they brought out surprisingly early in the set. 

After opening with “Chinese Democracy,” Axl got the crowd going with three consecutive Appetite-era songs - “Welcome to the Jungle,” “It’s So Easy” and “Mr. Brownstone” followed shortly thereafter by a funked-up version of “You’re Crazy.” 

But oldies like “Rocket Queen” felt a bit hollow without Slash and Izzy’s loose blues rock or the swing original drummer Stephen Adler brought to the group.

The current group could have played to their strengths by venturing further into the back catalog of "Use Your Illusions" songs and digging out big, broad opuses like “Coma” and “Locomotive." But instead, it built the set around "Appetite for Destruction" and "Chinese Democracy" songs, with a few instrumentals thrown in for good measure. 

Newer songs - and by newer I mean songs that Axl tinkered with for 17 years before releasing "Chinese Democracy" in 2008 - sounded great, but even in an intimate setting there was an inevitable lull each time a "Democracy"-era song came on. 

One exception was “Better” an  up-tempo encore inclusion with a full light show and harmonies that got the crowd buzzing.  But Axl knows where his bread is buttered, and so "Appetite" classics “Patience” and “Paradise City” closed the show as the house lights went on not long before sunlight started peeking into the morning at 3 a.m. 

If Axl Rose doesn’t want to cash in on a reunion tour with Slash, he’d do well to stick to venues like The Fillmore, where he can pack in a full house of die-hards. Still, it's clear that while he may not need his old bandmates to play a Guns N' Roses show, he certainly needs their old songs.

Jeremy Jay Trucker is a frequent contributor to Midnight Sun. He teaches at the Community College of Baltimore County in Dundalk and blogs occassionally at WNST.net. He last reviewed Third Eye Blind

Set List

Chinese Democracy

Welcome to the Jungle

It’s So Easy

Mr. Brownstone

Sorry

You’re Crazy

Estranged

Rocket Queen

Richard Fortus Guitar Solo

Live and Let Die

This I Love

Motivation – Stinson solo

Dizzy Reed piano solo – Baba O’Reilly

Street of Dreams

You Could Be Mine

DJ Ashba Guitar Solo

Sweet Child of Mine

Used to Love Her

Instrumental Jam

Axl Rose piano solo/November Rain

Bumblefoot

Don’t Cry

Civil War

Knockin on Heaven’s Door

Night Train

Madagascar

Better

Instrumental

Patience

Instrumental/Paradise City

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
MusicEntertainmentPoliticsGuns N' Roses (music group)DemocracySlash (music artist)Disc Jockeys
Comments
Loading