Guns N' Roses, Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, 11/23/12
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Rose introduced original GN'R (and underrated) rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin to the stage to join the band for "14 Years" (featuring the guitarist on lead vocals) and "You Could Be Mine." Stradlin looked fit and healthy, and the years have treated him very well despite years of hard living. The GN'R staple "Sweet Child O' Mine" rocked the theater and had fans singing along to every word of the arena-rock anthem.
Axl sat down at the piano and joined the band for a partial cover of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2" before "November Rain." As the song started, his grand piano was lifted above the crowd. As the bridge of the song came to an end and Rose started the end, sparks shot out of the stage. It was a real spectacle and was the highlight of the show.
Bumblefoot gave Rose a break as he sang his own track "Glad to Be Here." Rose returned for "Don't Cry" and a version of The Who's "The Seeker." Stradlin rejoined the band for "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" and "Nightrain."
The seven-song encore started with a cover of Neil Young's "Don't Let It Bring You Down" and a rocking version of "Used to Love Her." After another jam, GN'R closed the show with "Paradise City," raining down so much confetti you couldn't see the person standing next to you. Rose, who has so much control over the crowd and so much energy, showed why he's one of the best frontmen in rock 'n' roll.
While he's made some questionable decisions over the years, he is not the only one to blame for fans probably never getting the chance to seeing the Appetite-era lineup. Former drummer Steven Adler is attention-starved and will praise or slam Rose in the press to try to sell more tickets to his GN'R cover band, Adler's Appetite. Even former bassist Duff McKagan joined the band overseas last year for a couple of tunes. Izzy Stradlin played with the band during their 2006 shows in New York. Where does that leave former lead guitarist Slash?
Is Axl the scapegoat and bad guy in the press or was Slash the one throwing up road blocks? Though we may never know the truth, Axl has moved forward, and the true test will be this group's making a new record together. Rose still has something to prove, but it doesn't feel like he has much to prove to himself.