Thread: Boston Globe Slams Axl
09.11.02, 08:51 AM #1
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Since Axl Rose's surprise performance at last month's MTV Video Music Awards, many have been wondering whether the hard-living, hard-rocking leader of Guns N' Roses is at last ready to emerge in full from his decadelong professional exile.
Here's a better question - who cares?
Oh, I'll admit, for about a minute there, after overheated VMA host Jimmy Fallon bellowed "Guns N' [bleepin'] Roses!," I almost headbanged myself into unconsciousness when Axl bounded onstage and launched into the G N' R classic "Welcome to the Jungle." For a brief instant, it was the late 1980s again with Axl doing that weird serpentine shimmy, prowling about like a pit bull, bruising his vocal cords, and thrilling the living daylights out of everybody.
Absorbed in the moment, one could almost ignore the fact that those introduced as Guns N' Roses were anything but - no Slash, no Izzy, no Duff. Instead, Axl was backed by a bunch of guys who could just as easily have been a very proficient tribute band.
But soon came the end of the affair, the fading of that old feeling. This wasn't the lithe, sinewy Axl of 1987 but a middle-age man desperate to prove time hasn't eroded his ability to whip an audience into a frenzy. Wearing his trademark bandanna - swaddling what had to be long, braided hair extensions - he huffed and puffed his way through "Welcome to the Jungle." By the end of the song, and he only sang a snippet, he couldn't have been more winded if he'd been running up Heartbreak Hill with a piano on his back. For someone who hasn't done much singing in public since the early 1990s, Axl wasn't in good voice. Fortunately, he didn't attempt "Sweet Child o' Mine," which, given the shakiness of his voice, would have been an unholy mess.
Then Axl sang the nondescript "Madagascar," which might appear on his looooong -delayed album "Chinese Democracy," which, given Axl's track record, will hit stores sometime after the Big Dig is completed. (In a postperformance interview with MTV's Kurt Loder, Axl said, "You'll see [the album], but I don't know if `soon' is the word.")
He closed his three-song medley with another G N' R chestnut, "Paradise City," but as with "Welcome to the Jungle," it was almost more than Axl could handle. His backup band did its part to keep things pumping along but pretty much left Axl eating its dust. I mean, come on - Axl was upstaged by the aptly monikered Buckethead, a guitarist who wears a KFC bucket on his head.
Simply put, it's too late in the day to revive Axl's career. Running around the stage at Radio City Music Hall, he was like a man trying to distance himself from his memories - and ours. Fifteen years ago, G N' R blasted out of the LA underground like a bullet. The band's debut, "Appetite for Destruction," was masterpiece of decadence and decay. With riffs so hot they left blisters, the album had enough enough raw combustion to give parents the vapors for years. (In its September issue, Spin voted "Appetite for Destruction" the greatest metal album of all time.)
But the eye of the storm was always as dysfunctional as he was hypnotic. He spat lyrics with racial and homophobic epithets, petulantly sparked concert riots, and made a T-shirt bearing the maniacal mug of convicted killer Charles Manson a fashion trend. Every sneer and swagger only served to sell more tickets and albums. Success and fame seemed to inoculate him from everything, except his own massive ego, which ultimately devoured both the original band and any semblance of a meaningful career. He stomped off into a self-imposed exile, and for most of the past 10 years has been holed up working on the new album that has yet to see the light.
And now Axl is back. He turned 40 this year, having spilled away his best years as a hard-rock Greta Garbo. In his recap of the VMAs, Time's Josh Tyrangiel called Axl's performance "competent," but also said it "felt like the world's most outrageous lounge act," and that was kind. Axl has had the first-act rise and second-act fall of a prototypical "Behind the Music" subject, and now he's demanding his redemptive coda.
Then again, he clearly needs it more than his audience does. We've moved on, while Axl still wants to party like it's 1989. Showered in confetti at the end of his performance, Axl raised his arms over his head and proclaimed, "Round one." Down for the count was more like it. If this woeful performance was meant to show that Axl is tanned, rested, and ready to vie for the rock crown again, all it really proved was that rust indeed never sleeps.
09.11.02, 09:29 AM #2
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An excellent article on the current state of the Axl Rose Band....thanks FH.From 3-13 to 10-6 and NFC South Champs.....go Saints!
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09.11.02, 12:34 PM #3
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So sad how this band basically just imploded and now we're left with Axl doing the, well, David Lee Roth thing...
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