|Promoter gives no reasons, but the band, and sometimes the fans, didn't always show up for performances.
By Geoff Boucher, Times Staff Writer
The first Guns N' Roses tour in nine years is over after just a month and will be remembered as a road run that began and ended with booing fans and an empty stage.
The "Chinese Democracy" tour has been called off by Clear Channel Entertainment, the promoter that did not cite a reason for the surrender in its terse news release. The reasons were evident in the arenas, however, where on too many nights, either the fans or the band didn't show up as expected.
Ticket-holders have been told to get refunds at the point of purchase. The canceled shows include a Jan. 3 date at the Forum and Dec. 27 at the San Diego Sports Arena.
On Nov. 7, the kickoff show in Vancouver was canceled at the last minute, sparking a fan melee that led to injuries and arrests. Twenty-nine days later, another no-show by the band, in Philadelphia, led to more rowdiness and set in motion the backstage talks that closed the curtain on Axl Rose and company.
The tour, more than a year and a half in the planning, was hobbled before it started by the failure of band leader Rose to deliver "Chinese Democracy," the tie-in album that has been promised for years. A spokeswoman for Interscope Records said Thursday the label would have no comment and that no release date has been set for the album.
Even without the marketing value of new music in stores and on radio, Clear Channel pushed hard to make the show a hot ticket: When tickets went on sale for the first set of shows, there was robust response in such markets as Boston, Philadelphia and New York. In the latter, tickets for the Madison Square Garden show sold out in minutes.
Then the Vancouver fiasco reminded fans of Rose's consistent inconsistency as a performer and instantly sapped any tour momentum. The Forum show was put on sale within days and was greeted by frosty fan interest. Only half of the tickets for the hometown venue had been sold.
Fan safety and mounting financial risk haunted the tour's key players, as did the erratic ways of Rose, who would pop in a different city than scheduled in the hours before some shows. "It was getting ridiculous," one official with the tour said. No one at Clear Channel or at Sanctuary, the band's management company, would comment publicly Thursday. In recent days, all involved have huddled to broker the messy cancellation. Among the issues: The $1-million advance given to Rose last year to secure the tour.
Andy Hewitt, a Los Angeles promoter who partnered on an Idaho date for the Guns N' Roses tour, said Thursday that timing and temperament again undermined Rose, whose mercurial ways are legendary.
"He managed to cancel the dates that were doing well [at the box office], and when they didn't, he showed up," Hewitt said. "We did a show in Boise that did horrible business, and he showed. I wished he didn't."
Tim Wood, an executive vice president at Ticketmaster, wondered if Rose would get another chance.
"I think a lot of people were excited about this one, and it's a shame Axl can't get this thing together," Wood said. "I would think now that any promoter would really think twice before trying this again. These tours are expensive."