Guns n' Roses @ Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC [5/15/06]
Lots of thoughts after last night's GNR show here in New York.
First, I no longer want Slash back in the band. Well, I wouldn't turn it down, but I no longer really want it to happen. Why? Because Axl's finally found his new muse -- Robin Finck. Seriously, Robin impressed the living f**k out of me last night. For a guy who was in Nine Inch Nails, he's got serious chops and plays with a ton of soul. No offense to Tommy Stinson or the other guys, but he's the heart and soul of this current band. The new songs revolve around his playing, and he makes the old songs sound legitimate (see #6 below).
Second, Axl gave us as good a show as anyone had a right to expect. He sounded fantastic, and showed great vocal range (and not just for a dude in his 40's). He was also in a good mood, joking with the crowd, and thanking us repeatedly for coming out and supporting the band. A nice touch.
Third, they seriously, seriously need to change that setlist. It was almost the exact same setlist from when I saw them at the Garden in 2002, and pretty much identical to the first two nights of this run. I know that the fans want to hear certain songs every night, but how they have so many songs to choose from that it doesn't make sense to stick with the same songs every night. How about "Think About You", "Anything Goes", "Civil War", "Estranged", "Dead Horse" or "Breakdown"? I'd love to hear any of these songs.
Fourth, the pacing of the show was a little off. Maybe it's that they're still early in the tour, but several times during the show they managed to go from spectacular to so-so in the space of a song, and then back again. No real noticable flubs from anybody, but there were times when songs just seemed to lose their energy 1/2 way through. Weird.
Fifth, I really like the new songs. Of course, the best of the bunch is "Better", which, according to Axl, was written by Finck. "The Blues" is a cool tune which sounded great. "Madagascar" sounds like it was going to be an incredible song but then Axl decided he was too tired to write a melody. As for "Chinese Democracy" (the song), I think I'll need to hear it on disc before I can really say anything about it. It sounds like it has potential, but it was hard to tell. Plus, I think I like the other songs more because I've listened to the leaks over and over again. I don't have a leak for "Chinese Democracy".
Sixth, as much as I enjoyed the show, and as much as I liked the new songs, there was a real, palpable feeling at times that this just wasn't GNR. I didn't have that feeling in 2002, and I've tried not to feel that way, because, after all, anyone can pretty much play anyone else's part. But I can't deny that on a couple of occasions it just rang a little hollow, and it looked like Axl simply running around out there with a bunch of hired guns. It's not fair, but it did occur to me. And, despite that, I think that if the old lineup ever does get back together, Robin should stay in the band. That dude pwned.