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Guns N’ Roses At The Troubador: Live Review

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I had my doubts about seeing Guns N’ Roses last night at the Troubador in L.A.

I think a lot of us did.

I could feel Kate Hudson’s deep and dark emotional doubt, standing five feet to my right.

I thought about talking to her about it–finally, after all these years, Kate and I had something in common.

I thought better of it, but walking away from the blistering, nearly 20 song performance, here’s what I learned.

They’ve still got it.

In as fighting of a shape as he’s been in for years, Axl Rose got the job done. Gone is the goatee and the glitz that’s punctuated his appearance for the last decade or so of Guns N’ Roses lifeless sets across the globe. Those sets have come across as pastiche or cabaret in comparison to the ferocity of his band’s past. No matter where they’ve played, the music and the show itself had a Vegasy, has-been sheen.

But that’s all different now. Because the personnel, or most of it,  has changed back to what it used to be.

Well, sort of.

Slash, Duff and Axl were back on stage together and it was awesome to see that trio again because it certainly didn’t seem like something that would ever happen. Duff was solid, Slash was fabulous and Axl was surprisingly good. His voice has all the muscle it ever did, but his range has suffered over the years, making those piercing high notes only places he can approximate and glimpse, which takes some of the sting out of certain numbers like “Welcome To The Jungle” or “Sweet Child O’Mine.”

Missing in action?

Izzy Stradlin, Steven Adler and/or Matt Sorum.

Will they join the band at some point?

Hard to say.

On board we also had Dizzy Reed on keyboards, guitarist Richard Fortus, drummer Frank Ferrer and keyboardist Melissa Reese.

It was a busy stage.

And a busy audience–it was packed so tight I could read the text the girl  next to me was sending her friend (“Dave is here. He hasnt scene me but hes with that grl frm the prty”) and Jim Carrey walked into the bathroom as soon as I walked out.

And it was a busy set-list that not only played classic numbers (“Mr. Brownstone” and “Paradise City”) it also threw in tracks from Chinese Democracy, covers by Dylan and Wings and a searing encore that found the band throwing in a fiery take on The Who’s “The Seeker.”

It was a blast.

The most un-rock and roll moment of the night? Knowing Nicholas Cage was there.

The totally most un-rock and roll moment of the night? When Axl compared himself to Donald Trump.

Either way, it was quite a night and whether or not Axl and his bandmates can keep it together for the accompanying tour will remain to be seen.

Nobody will mistake this iteration for the lean, serpentine fireball of venom it was in 1992, but there’s some bit left in this band, for sure.

It’s So Easy
Mr. Brownstone
Chinese Democracy
Welcome to the Jungle
Double Talkin’ Jive
Live and Let Die (Wings cover)
Rocket Queen
You Could Be Mine
Speak Softly Love (Andy Williams cover)
Sweet Child O’ Mine
New Rose (The Damned cover)
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan cover)
My Michelle
The Seeker (The Who cover)
Paradise City