|By C. Bottomley
What if Guns N' Roses gave a gig and actually showed up to play? That's exactly what happened at the Las Vegas House of Blues at 3:30 a.m. on New Year's Day. And the band even unveiled four new songs from its forthcoming - fingers crossed - album Chinese Democracy. It was the first time the group had performed in seven years.
Of course, anybody expecting an onstage reunion of Axl, Slash, Duff, and Izzy might have been disappointed. Although W. Axl Rose's razorblade vocals are familiar enough, he was backed by a new-look band that included Nine Inch Nails' Robin Finck, the Replicants' Chris Pittman, and avant-gardist Buckethead - who appropriately wore a KFC bucket on his head for the entire set - on guitars.
The group was rounded out by former Replacement Tommy Stinson on bass and former Primus drummer Brian "Brain" Mantia. Fans might have recognized keyboardist Dizzy Reed, however. He joined the group for 1991's Use Your Illusion.
The set was marred by a few technical glitches and at one point the piano gave out. Axl then climbed on top of it and basked in the audience's adulation as they chanted, "Welcome back." Warming to being in the public eye again, Axl admitted that the group had only started rehearsing the previous Thursday and that he felt weird about playing GN'R's old stuff with his new band.
Most of the material came from the band's classic 1987 debut, Appetite for Destruction. The group opened the set with "Welcome to the Jungle" and played favorites like "It's So Easy," "Mr. Brownstone," and "Sweet Child O' Mine." The final song of the night was "Paradise City," as it was meant to be.
On the unofficial Guns N' Roses Web site 2000 Intentions, fan Auston posted a review, saying, "I wasn't overly impressed with the new material with the exception of 'Blues' - Most was not very 'musical.'" Auston said one song was called "Chinese Democracy."
"The crowd was not as into the new songs as the old material - which is what normally happens at just about every concert," Auston wrote. "Not to say they weren't receptive, but when Axl talks about the Dali Lama [sic] as his intro to 'Chinese Democracy' he loses a bit of the momentum of the songs that get people's adrenaline pumping."
A second unofficial Web site, Here Today...Gone to Hell!, posted the following set list:
Welcome to the Jungle
Think About You
Out Ta Get Me
Oh My God
It's So Easy
Sweet Child O' Mine
Live and Let Die
Knockin' On Heaven's Door
The Blues (new song)
Chinese Democracy (new song)
Untitled (new song)
You Could Be Mine
Silk Worms (new song)