Dear Axl Rose,
Congratulations, you almost pulled it off. On New Year’s weekend—a time when everyone is looking forward—you took a trip back in time and reminded your fans that, for the most part, you’ve still got the chops to belt out all the hits that made you famous (and all the songs off Chinese Democracy that never will be hits). So what if that, in the middle of almost every tune and during the all-too-frequent instrumental solos, you disappeared behind a black curtain at the rear of the stage (can you say oxygen?). At least you now seem to care enough to do whatever it takes to put forth your best effort onstage. That certainly hasn’t always been the case.
True, you still don’t have a concept of time. (Unless you’re getting a cut of the beer sales, why are you taking the stage after 11 p.m.?) But you made up for it with a near-three-hour set that featured 14 of your most popular songs (including seven from the iconic debut album Appetite for Destruction). You even threw in a couple of well-turned AC/DC cover tunes. On several of the songs you sounded like vintage Axl; on others, when you knew your voice couldn’t hit those old high notes, you wisely turned up the band’s amps.
Speaking of that band, kudos to you for finding seven outstanding musicians. Those dudes can play. Unfortunately, none of those dudes are named Slash, Duff, Izzy or Adler. Which is why I say you almost pulled it off. Because without the original lineup, you’re not Guns N’ Roses; you’re Axl Rose and his All-Star Band. So put down the ego, pick up the phone and bury the hatchet. Your fans (and bank account) will be forever grateful.