|The Guns N' Roses tour opener in Vancouver, British Columbia, Thursday (Nov. 7) night was a typical rousing send-off to the band's first North American concert tour in nine years. It didn't happen … and there was a riot.
A band employee first put the problem on inclement weather that blocked singer Axl Rose from leaving Los Angeles, but then the promoters issued a brief statement that blamed the cancellation on a malfunctioning airplane.
According to a spokesperson, the tour is expected to continue as scheduled with the Vancouver date rebooked. "At this time, Tacoma is still a go for Friday [Nov. 8]," said the representative.
The band had flown Wednesday (Nov. 6) for a day of rehearsals, but Rose, who rarely rehearses or sound-checks with his players, was not scheduled to arrive until Thursday.
Rumors began circulating Thursday afternoon that Rose had missed his flight, although other reports said he was on a chartered plane and would be flying in soon. Still other reports said he was hung up at customs. Every radio station and news service seemed to have a different story, many wrongly reporting that Rose was already in Vancouver and that he had been heard sound-checking.
Where Rose actually was at the time of the cancellation remains unclear, but it is clear that the promoters had no confidence in Rose arriving in time to perform. They opted to pull the plug before letting the crowd into the building.
With the doors scheduled to open at 6:30 p.m. for an advertised 7:30 p.m. start (with Philadelphia rock act CKY opening and the Mixmaster Mike in the middle slot), the 8,000 or so fans on hand (of the 12,000 expected to attend the event) were already antsy before the cancellation notices went up on otherwise dark ticket windows. Within minutes of the notices being posted, unruly rock fans began to break windows, trash Ticketmaster kiosks, and throw firecrackers at security. The police arrived and retaliated with pepper spray and batons.
Staff inside the venue was not allowed to leave. Backstage, the atmosphere was one of quiet resignation (spiced with an almost giddy sense of bewilderment) as the crew began dismantling the stage it had put up the previous day.
At 9 p.m., a dejected looking posse that included a masked Buckethead and other band members was ushered out of the building.
-- Sorelle Saidman