Review: Guns N' Roses at 1STBANK Center, with Black Label Society, 12/11/11

Categories: Last Night

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Eric Gruneisen

GUNS N' ROSES at 1STBANK CENTER | 12/11/11

Some bands wait until the end of the set or an encore to pull out its most beloved material. Not Guns N' Roses. Two songs into the set, the instantly familiar guitar riff was teased two, maybe three times before Axl Rose cried out, "Do you know where you are? You're in the jungle, baby! You're gonna die!" Yes, GNR had the stones to play the song that broke the band to the world that early in the set. And it was clear there was no lip-synching for it, as some people assumed for other songs in the set, as evidenced by Axl switching up the inflection in lyrics here and there. When he sang the "Feel my, my, my, my serpentine" line, he did his signature dance. As for the rest of the band? Not a bum note, and if anyone had any concern for the show being good or seeing any prima donna antics from stage, those worries proved to be unfounded.

Before Guns took the stage, the lights went out on the venue and an instrumental version of "I'm Your Man," by Leonard Cohen, played through the P.A. Then Dj Ashba was lit up like an icon in front of projection of what had been a red vortex that evolved into the Guns N' Roses logo. The show started off with the title track from Chinese Democracy, and immediately it was a spectacle of colorful projections and fireworks and flame jets and explosions that punctuated the appropriate parts of every song.

Photos: Guns N' Roses in Denver

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Eric Gruneisen
Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose last night at 1STBANK Center.
After "Welcome to the Jungle" came, the band somewhat unexpectedly went directly into "It's So Easy" with Tommy Stinson supplying backing vocals every bit as expertly as Duff McKagan used to and Dj Ashba's leads, no matter what song he played, were perfectly executed every time even as he put a bit of his own touch on the playing as well. "Mr. Brownstone" came next as a welcome reminder of the strength of the material that happened to be on the act's debut full-length.

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Eric Gruneisen
Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose last night at 1STBANK Center
Before "Sorry," the words "Guns N Roses" appeared on the projection screens and the crowd chanted along to a cadence in the sequencing. Clearly Sebastian Bach wasn't really on this tour but "Sorry" ended up being a surprisingly strong performance especially with Ashba's melodic yet moody delivery on the leads. Before going into "Shackler's Revenge," Axl asked us how we were doing, and the crowd, to its credit, raised quite a ruckus. Then he said, "You sound good. You sound really fuckin' good!" And somehow it didn't come off as pandering. Throughout the show, it seemed as though Axl was appreciative of the people showing up, and he was gracious with his bandmates as well as the set went on.

Photos: Guns N' Roses in Denver

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Eric Gruneisen
Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose last night at 1STBANK Center
"Estranged" from Use Your Illusion II never sounded better. "Rocket Queen" with the disjointed visuals of various women focusing on various parts of their bodies seemed appropriate given the subject matter of the song with the end taking an oddly sentimental turn. After the song ended, Axl pointed to the band's bassist and introduced Tommy Stinson, who most people probably know played for The Replacements. But tonight, he sang a cover of "Sonic Reducer" by the Dead Boys, with its reference, of course, to Pere Ubu's "Final Solution." And Tommy made sure to let us know who did the original, seeing as how, unfortunately, the Dead Boys are not a household name.

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Eric Gruneisen
Tommy Stinson (left) and Dj Ashba of Guns N' Roses last night at 1STBANK Center
"Better" sounded like some classic older song, but it was another of the solid Chinese Democracy tracks of the whole show. Often ballads seem like a hackneyed songwriting style, but Rose and his band made it sound like something deep felt from an innocent place in the heart that Rose has somehow maintained after all these years. Of course since there's bad blood between the original members of the classic line-up, Axl's surrounded himself with a handpicked cast of musicians. And yet, this line-up didn't feel like just a bunch of hired guns going through the music note by rote. That wouldn't have worked for a show like this.

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Eric Gruneisen
Richard Fortus of Guns N' Roses last night at 1STBANK Center
Axl introduced Richard Fortus and the guitarist did a short solo and went into a cover of the James Bond theme music with some other members of the band. What followed? What else, but the group's excellent cover of "To Live and Let Die." The quickly shifting black and white imagery as the backdrop of the band just emphasized GNR's take on the Wings classic. "This I Love" came after and drove home how Rose, as a songwriter, can take familiar elements of lyrical themes and breathe new life into it all especially in making essentially stripped down rock music into something with just a bit more grandeur and imagination minus some outlandish flight of fancy to go along with it.

Photos: Guns N' Roses in Denver

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Eric Gruneisen
Guns N' Roses last night at 1STBANK Center
At one point, Axl introduced us to "one of our own," as he put it, Dizzy Reed from Denver. Reed sat down at a piano and...

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1STBANK Center

11450 Broomfield Lane, Broomfield, CO

Category: Music

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5 comments
Danielle Russell
Danielle Russell

Hi westword! GNR deserves to be in the hall of fame. They are one of the best representative of rock and roll. I hope that the originl members  will have a  reunion album.

EatGoodFood
EatGoodFood

Damn, I wrote this show off as the Axl Rose Sideshow and figured it wasn't worth it.  Sounds like I should've gone.

JohnLennonsGhost
JohnLennonsGhost

sorry to hear about you having to leave early, hope you're well

Jeremy Coss
Jeremy Coss

That instrumental you heard before the show started was not I'm Your Man by Leonard Cohen, it was the theme song for Dexter.

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