by / September 2nd, 2010 /

Guns N’ Roses – The O2, Dublin

“We want to stay and play but one more bottle and we will walk off the stage.”

Ask any Guns N’ Roses fan if they think this quote from Axl Rose would be out of place at any Guns gig and the answer would invariably be no. The band haven’t played in Dublin since the Download festival came to Ireland in June 2006. With many changes to the line up throughout the years, Axl seemed to manage to pull something out of his hat with the release of the highly anticipated Chinese Democracy album, followed by the announcement of a new line up which included Dizzy Reed and SixxAM’s DJ Ashba.

Doors for the event opened just past 6.30pm, the support act Danko Jones on stage about 8pm with a tough job ahead of them. The band themselves are from Canada but they could have been from Mars and been on-stage dressed as starship troopers for this entire crowd cared. This is one of the curses with opening for an act like Guns…unless you are Metallica, you’ll find it hard to keep everyone’s attention. They finished up at around 9.15pm announcing that Guns N Roses are up next to an almighty roar from the already anxious crowd.

Let’s face it – this was never going to be an ordinary show and it was never going to go according to anyone but the band’s schedule. We all had heard what happened at Reading. Any long-standing Guns fan knew what they were getting themselves into. Having said that I do not support or condone the tonight’s events. I think walking off stage should always be a band’s last resort, but what I am trying to put across is that there was always a possibility with Axl that he will walk – coming on stage late or not.

The crowd remained calm enough throughout the lengthy wait for them to appear on stage with nothing but a few loud boos every now and again, and from what I could see some slight bottle throwing at the front but nothing to make anyone fear for their lives. At 10.25pm, the house lights dimmed and it was time for Guns to take to the stage. The set list kicked off with DJ Ashba hitting the opening chords to ‘Chinese Democracy’ and Axl running on stage to an explosion of pyro and silver steamers from the front of the stage. Guns were finally here and they wanted everyone to know it.

The most obvious thing was the appalling standard of the vocals. Axl was never going to sound the same as he did back in the day, but with missed timing on vocals and singing which brought memories of a drunk father trying to do karaoke, it was hard to get past this, but as always with die hard Guns fans – they are willing to overlook this for the fact that they were finally on stage. The crowd’s anger at the long wait became more apparent during the opening to ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ as DJ tried to get the crowd to get excited, leading to a mix of excited cheering and angry jeers which could be heard throughout The O2. The bottles were now being aimed at the stage and Axl stopped ‘Jungle’ about a minute in to lay down the law. He kicked back into it when he felt the crowd has calmed and continued for another three songs before the next bottle came to close for comfort and he said his goodbyes and walked off stage with the band.

What happened over the next hour and a half was surreal, with O2 venue staff coming on stage to announce the walk off was due to ‘technical difficulties and that the band would be returning to the stage, to a member of staff from promoters MCD, appearing on stage to try stop the ever depleting crowd from leaving the building. Most of the crowd at this stage were livid and were calling for a refund of tickets and many left the venue very angry with what had just happened. There are reports going around of people being ushered out of the venue when the house lights went up and then not allowed back into the venue when the band finally did return on stage but I can only give my experience of the night. The band returned about an hour after they had first arrived on stage to finish a set which include ‘Rocket Queen’, ‘November Rain’ and ‘Nightrain’ but their hearts were clearly not in it. The mighty ‘Paradise City’ finally brought the longest hour and a half performance to a close.

I know there are mixed feelings over what caused the delay in them getting on stage, what caused him to walk, and why the crowd were put through this nightmare and had to pay for the events of tonight, but I am going to finish this piece with the following thought. I have been a huge Guns fan for as long as I can remember. Guns to me were always that one band that you wished you were able to see back in their height with all original members still intact. I used stare of photos of them and watch as much footage as I could possibly find but I was always left heartbroken that I wasn’t lucky enough to see them live and left always wanting more. As a long standing Guns fan I don’t want to let one gig take away from all the years that I have spent listening and living on what they created. What they leave behind is incredible music that will be played for the rest of time, and this is what they should be remembered for. Nights like tonight, however, make that very hard indeed.

  • Excellent review Lorna. Point very well made!

  • Conor

    I was at this gig on wed. The weirdest gig I was ever at and prob ever will be at. I have to didagree about the support Danko Jones. They were rockin and got a good response from the crowd. Everyone new that they were filling time the longer they went on though.

    I saw the original Guns N’ Roses play in ’92 in Slane. They were amazing. They did, however, take 2 hours to get on stage after the support bands (My Little Funhouse and Faith No More). Once they came on stage, the crowd didn’t care about the wait anymore. They were the biggest new band at the time. Memorable gig for all the right reasons.

    The reason the crowd were so pissed off last weds night was because this was no longer the band that they used to be. Axl is a ‘has been’ and nobody knew who the rest of the band were. It was like they didn’t have a right to pull this rock n’ roll stunt anymore. The country is economically in a bad state, the gig was midweek with most working the next morning and a lot of people were in there from 6:30 and more than likely drinking. Of course the crowd would get pissed.

    It was quite a surreal experiance. The band obviously heard all the booing back stage before they came on. this couldn’t have helped Axl’s mood. To add to that, his earpiece wasn’t working for the first song with a crew member spending about a minute trying to fix the reciever box onto his belt as he kept singing and moving. Without the earpiece he wouldn’t have been able to hear the music properly, the reason for the crap vocals at the start of the gig. He got the earpiece and box and smashed it to bits on the stage and went and got a new one fitted. He also through the mic stand away in angry. We knew something big was going to happen. Axl was in a bad place and a famous ‘rant’ was to be expected.

    The boos could still be heard throughout the place. These were down to the fact of the band coming on late and the bad sound for the vocals. The crowd wasn’t happy. To make things worse, for the second song, the new guitarist DJ Ashba tried to get the crowd going with playing the few notes at the start of Welcome to the Jungle. What the crowd wasn’t happy with now was the fact that he looked like a ‘Slash wannbe’. He was wearing a tallish hat, fag in the mouth and was even playing a yellow/brown les paul guitar just like Slash’s one. This did seem a bit pathetic. The crowd were not impressed and booed each effort he made to get things going. DJ Ashba looked bemused. He looked like he couldn’t understand why the fans that payed to see GN’R were booing them. A little bit into the song a few bottles and plastic glasses were thrown onto the stage. Axl stopped the song, gave his threat to walk off if the throwing bottles continued. Neadless to say, he got booed. They got going with the song again but the worse thing he could of done was give an ultimatium. Obviously, someone was going to test him and throw another one.

    They played another 3 songs really well. Mr Brownstone sounded brilliant. A few bottles more were thrown be hind Axl but he didn’t see them. the crew cleaned them up quickly without him seeing. Ironically, during the song ‘Sorry’ a plastic glass was thrown behind him which he saw. That was enough and he said ‘Good Night’. It was no surprise.

    The house lights cam on after a while and a lot to the standing crowd were ordered out by security. Probably a 3rd or more had left the gig. 45 mins after walking off, amazingly, they came back on. Those who left couldn’t get back in even with their tickets.

    The crowd didn’t boo anymore and no more bottles or glasses were thrown (all the alcohol was prob drank at that stage). They played for another hour and a half but the performance by Axl was pathetic. In fairness to the rest of the band, they tried their best and DJ Ashba nailed all the Slash solos. Axl, on the otherhand, was like a forty something child that just had his toys taken from him. He stood at the back of the stage for all the gig. Didn’t use the stairs at the back or the front and side walkways were he usually runs around on. No matter how heavy or up tempo the song was, he just stood there and didn’t move. When the instrumental part came in each song he either walked off stage for a while or just lay up against the drum stage in a sulk. It’s amazing that a professional could act in this way. I’ve been to so many gigs over the years and never saw anyone not try.

    A lot of people were getting up and leaving. Others who didn’t know what he was normally like in concert seems to think that all was good. The gig ended at 12:55 am (nearly 2 hours over time) and he said good night and walked off. 5 mins later, I was walking by the outside of the venue and a yard gate opened. Gardi (police) rushed out in a frenzy surrounding a black van with blacked-out windows. It stopped as it tried to get throught he crowd. We all knew that Axl was in it trying the get to the airport or hotel before he was linched. the van got a good bit of abuse and jeers.

    Spent the whole journey home talking about one of the weirdest gigs ever. It was all over the radio stations and RTE news were outside the venue. One thing is for sure, he’ll never play Ireland again and to be honest, I thick it’s nearly time for him to hang up his mic. At least Slash is still touring.

  • Kaz

    I was there also and I have to agree and disagree with some comments, mainly that yes GNR have been fab in their past too be honest youve read the previous gig reviews, you know that Slash etc have left the band, if you dont like it, dont buy a ticket simple as that, as regards Conors comments regards DJ Ashba i think they are pretty unfair as if you have followed him you would know that the hat etc is his thing also, these arnt copy right to slash etc, I think DJ is an excellant guitarist in his own right and should be recognised for this and not a slash wannabe.
    as for gig, i was on the fist level at the front row and i saw plenty of drink being thrown accross the audience during the warm up act also, although non was thrown at the stage, yes people became restless during the wait but die hard fans would know what the abnd is like for timing and getting on stage.
    dont get me wrong im not defending the band as they really should buy Axl a watch but they have a reputation for this.

    i think the venue should also be partly to blame as this is one of the rare indoor venues allowing drink into the arena, I saw two guys with a bottle in each pocket and two bottles in each hand going in, they they were ready to soak up the beer themselves, not only this the floor was terribly slippy and you could break your nexk on the steps inside the arena with split drink.
    this isnt allowed at the olympia in Dublin etc and this should be reviewed at the o2 especially on the ground floor.

    also i think the venue shoul dhave advised the crowd what time the band were roughly coming on stage when they realised some unrest happening in the wait.

    Axl was def unahppy when he came on a second time as he wasin the f**k you mood as if to say im playing this gig and getting out of here

    would any other band of walked off stage, yes they probably would have, do I blame him No i dont, as he should be a walking target for this sort of stuff, if he would of carried on, more bottles would of been thrown again and again.

    would i see them again…. now that a question and a half, as i am a die hard gnr fan, i do think Axl has reached his prime but i still love them.

    I know one thing for sure that it wont be in Dublin again.


  • Conor

    I wasn’t saying that I thought DJ Ashba was a ‘Slash Wannabe’ but that this is what the majority of the crowd would have been thinking. Not many would know much about the rest of the band and especially him seeing that he has only joined a short while. I did think he was class at what he had to do and as I said above ‘he nailed all the Slash solos’.

  • Neil

    Conor and Lorna you both said it all. I also agree with the Slash wannabe comment. It was just too close a comparision to not be. What angers me about Axel is from his constant late showing and mouthing off he obviously doesn’t give a hoot about his fans, which saddens me as they were the first band I ever listened to and have been a fan for along time. I can’t wait until velvot revolver get together again and tour. Saw them in the Ambasador and to me they are the soul of GnR music. Axel is a hasbeen, if he showed some humility and treated those who got him to were he was I guess we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Bascily people are sick and tired of the spoilt rock star image and just wont take it. Especially when we ourselves are in the shit.

  • Mick

    Lads and lassies,
    All very creditable comments, personally for all the tooing and froing I thought when I got beyond Axl sulking at the rear of the stage and took on the gig for what it had deteriorated to it was a great nights entertainment. But one thing has stuck in my mind, during one of the ‘intervals’ (can’t remember if it was before they took to the stage or during the walk off) someone took to the stage and played a couple of tunes on piano to try to pacify the ‘mob’, who was it? Have an idea but would like confirmation before I put forward what seems like a strange person to be at a GnR gig.