Tuesday March 26, 2013
Appetite for more
By CHRISTINE CHEAH Photos by Shahrul Fazry Ismail
Legendary rock act Guns ‘n’ Roses kept the engines revving at F1’s post-race party.
They say good things never last, but on Sunday night, 51-year-old Axl Rose blasted the tracks off the helipad at the Sepang International Circuit with his effervescent vocals giving the indication that Guns ‘n’ Roses might actually be around until the end of time.
The Guns ‘n’ Roses lead singer, who has been known for his tardiness, arrived on time (8pm sharp!) for his band’s headlining slot at the F1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix 2013 post-race concert at the Sepang International Circuit. No hitches, no delays.
For a two-and-a-half hour long set, it seemed as though Guns ‘n’ Roses might have beaten the Red Bull team (Sebastian Vettel won the race earlier in Sepang) to the top of the podium in terms of endurance as the fired-up group unleashed a crowd-pleasing set with an Appetite For Destruction and saving the powerful and demanding best bit, Patience, for last.
Back in 2010, former Guns ‘n’ Roses guitarist Slash and his band played to 8,000 fans at Sunway Lagoon in Selangor.
On Sunday in Sepang, the same number of fans thronged the helipad circuit (as early as 5.30pm) to experience the other side of Guns ‘n’ Roses – Axl Rose in his full glory.
For many hardcore followers, it was like putting pieces of a puzzle together since the Guns ‘n’ Roses legacy is now broken into two camps – the Axl Rose half and the Slash (and gang) half.
Despite the number of vintage GnR T-shirts seen at the venue (from the Lies ‘newspaper’ T-shirt to Use Your Illusion tour T-shirts), the dream of watching the band’s classic 1986 line-up is not going to happen any time soon.
Instead, Malaysians got a taste of Axl’s Guns ‘n’ Roses powered by guitarists Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal, DJ Ashba and Richard Fortus, bassist/backing vocalist Tommy Stinson, drummer Frank Ferrer and keyboardists/backing vocalists Dizzy Reed and Chris Pitman.
It wasn’t so bad on stage as the band cranked up the volume from the start, with Chinese Democracy, Welcome To The Jungle, It’s So Easy and Mr Brownstone aiming for the jugular.
After a recent Australian tour, Guns ‘n’ Roses looked the part as a lean and mean machine. Guitarists DJ Ashba and Richard Fortus got the opportunity to strut their strings on solo as well, showing that they too were on par with their ‘boss’.
To make it slightly controversial, Ashba was spotted with the Slash-like hat and if you think he did not earn the strings to grace that stage with Rose, he certainly defied those Rose bashers with his electrifying stunt of finger filigrees.
With five video screens featuring high definition graphics with endless pyrotechnics accompanying Rose’s penchant for a perfect performance, the audience which comprised of a good mix of foreigners and Malaysians were definitely seduced by 1980s rock nostalgia (too bad Civil War wasn’t included in the set).
The band’s favourites from the early 1990s were also dispatched with You Could Be Mine, Live And Let Die (the Paul McCartney & Wings classic) and Don’t Cry reminding us that in these K-pop and indie-centred times that a bit of showbiz spectacle and stadium rock can be rather refreshing.
Back to the white heat of the show, there was a crowd-connecting moment as Malaysians stood and sang when the familiar chords of Negaraku were respectfully delivered by Bumblefoot during his solo act.
The level was just brought higher after that bit of patriotism when Rose tamed the raging fans with Sweet Child O’ Mine sending his voice skywards and almost shattering the chandeliers hanging from the VIP tents.
Despite the Rose’ portrayal to critics and fans as being a troubled man with tantrums, the frontman showing his soft side when he sat down for the piano-laden November Rain, which brought a twinkle to the night.
It was a sombre moment when Knocking On Heaven’s Door came about as Rose dedicated the song to a member of the tour entourage who lost her father the night before the Sepang show.
A cover of The Who’s The Seeker carried the band to the last stretch, before a blistering version of Paradise City reminded the fans that work on Monday could wait!
As the last remaining original Guns ‘n’ Roses member, Axl had to run the show and he did it well on stage. Sporting shades and a wide-brimmed hat throughout the concert, Axl also brought in the humour of the hot and humid weather here by saying: “I am from Indiana in the United States and I think we have the weather in common.”
Though there was this slight quirkiness of Rose lollygagging back and forth as if he had an itchy bum and the rest of his troupe all dressed up to the theme of post-armageddon, the visuals, vocals and showmanship lived up to the expectations proving that Slash-less does not make Guns ‘n’ Roses any lesser than before.