|After several teasing, halting baby steps over the last year, Axl Rose may finally be ready to fully return to the public arena. Rose has reportedly agreed to premiere the new lineup of Guns N' Roses at the Rock in Rio for a Better World concert in January.
Although a representative of Guns N' Roses label, Interscope/Geffen Records, could not confirm the booking, and calls to the band's booking agent Big FD Entertainment were not returned by press time, the Brazilian newspaper O Globo reported that the group has been added to the lineup of the festival, which runs Jan. 12-21 in Rio De Janerio, Brazil. GN'R has not yet been added to the festival's official Web site, www.rockinrio.americaonline.com, but festival organizer Roberto Medina told Brazilian television on Wednesday that the deal was set, with the band scheduled to perform on Jan. 14.
If GN'R are confirmed for the festival, they'll be joining a bill that also features recent new additions the Dave Matthews Band and 5ive as well as heavy weights like R.E.M., Neil Young, Britney Spears, 'N Sync, Sheryl Crow, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck, the Foo Fighters, Iron Maiden, James Taylor and more. It would mark Rose's second appearance at the festival, having performed at Rock in Rio with GN'R in 1991. Keyboardist Dizzy Reed would be the only other GN'R veteran of the festival, as the rest of the band now features former Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson, guitarists Paul Tobias, Buckethead and Robin Finck (having returned from his stint with Nine Inch Nails) and new drummer Brain, formerly of Primus.
Rock in Rio would also mark Guns N' Roses first public performance in seven years, though Rose made a surprise appearance at a Los Angeles club show by former bandmember Gilby Clarke in June.
As of Thursday morning, the Interscope representative had no news to report on the status of Chinese Democracy, the GN'R album Rose has been working on for the last five years, but O Globo reports that the group's decision to perform at Rock in Rio ties into their desire to launch the album in January. There was much talk about the album being finished in time for release this summer (fueled by Rose coming out of hiding to talk about it with both Rolling Stone and MTV), but it never materialized. The only new GN'R song the public has heard in the last half decade was "Oh My God," an industrialized rocker featured on the soundtrack to End of Days in 1999.
RICHARD SKANSE (October 27, 2000)