- Belfast Photos By Davis Fitzgerald (@ The Belfast Telegraph)
- Dublin Photo’s By Aaron O’Connor
- Crap Pictures (Really out of focus, far away/B&W ones) by Tickets There
“STOP! Right, here’s the Deal. One more bottle – we go home. It’s up to you. We would like to Stay, you want us to stay? We want to stay; we want to have some fun. If you don’t want to have fun all you gotta do is let us know and we got no problem, we’ll go on our way. Start Over.”
– Axl Roses, Dublin September 1st 2010.
What ever problems Guns N’ Roses have had over the past twenty years, today more than ever it is very, very unpopular to be their fan in Ireland. Just 24 hours after an amazing performance in Belfast, last night’s O2 area show almost ended in total chaos when the band left the stage after just twenty minutes due to bottles and objects being thrown on stage and at band members despite a very firm warning from Axl earlier in the set that the band would leave if another object was thrown.
The Bad: Let’s get the Elephant Out of the Way…
Dublin fans become irritated when the band turned up almost 40 minutes late for their set, not bad in normal Guns N’ Roses time but more than the gathering of greatest hits fans in attendance were used to. The final 20 minutes of waiting had been filled with a mixture of booing, complaints and chants from the restless, now tired, bored and drink filled crowd. When the band finally took the stage, their opening song Chinese Democracy did little to calm the audience down. Even the opening chords to their second song, Welcome To The Jungle were meet with an even mixture of boos and cheers. After three objects were directly thrown at Axl, the show was stopped for Axl’s warning before the band kicked into WTTJ again.
It’s So Easy followed, where a pissed off Axl could be seen to give more than a normal effort into the line “I see you standing there, you think you’re so cool. Why don’t you just, Fuck Off!’ flipping of the remaining nay sayers in the audience. The classic Mr. Brownstone went off without a hitch but still didn’t relieve the tension in the room and Axl’s unapologetic Sorry from Chinese Democracy landed like a lead balloon in the room. At this point, Axl introduced guitarist Richard Fortus for a solo and as he turned around to depart the stage, he was once again struck by an object from the crowd. Axl simply turned and said goodbye to the crowd, announced the show was over and the band walked off.
You don’t know why, I won’t act the way you think I should…. To hell with the pressure, I’m not cavin’ in.
- Guns N’ Roses – Sorry (Chinese Democracy, 2008)
This was meet by massive booing from the now pissed off crowd. The lights remained dark and people that weren’t roaring insults at the stage were deep in GN’R conversation about the possibilities of the band actually returning to the stage. As most GN’R fans know, Axl will almost never return to a stage after walking off and right now, Tickets There cannot think of one time he’s actually done before last night.
After a period of waiting, an official spokesperson announced the crew were working through some “technical difficulties”, an announcement that was meet with a burst of laughter from the crowd. Seeing the tension. Denis Desmond from MCD took the mike to inform the crowd they were trying their best to get Guns N’ Roses back on stage and asked the crowd for calm. The House lights were turned on and several thousand people departed assuming the show was over. Outside, security guards scrambled to remove all fencing from around the arena and smoking areas for fear of a mass exit and possible riot while departing fans roared their disapproval at Axl’s treatment of the crowd. Back inside the bars and merch stands were closed, fans stood around not knowing what to do, smoking openly in the middle of the floor unable to restrain their anger towards the band, especially lead singer Axl.
Out of nowhere, the house-lights were turned off, the cameramen took their positions around the stage and the band reappeared, jumping around and smiling. Axl begrudgingly retook the stage and the band sombrely started into Live And Let Die, which was met with a nervous relief and quiet excitement from the remaining crowd members. Axl stood at the back of the stage, away from the shower of bottles many in the crowd were sure would arrive if the band actually returned. Fortunately the lesson seemed to work as no more objects were thrown at the stage and the booing seemed to stop completely. Axl remained at the back of stage for almost the entire night moving only to walk back stage occasionally during song breaks and solos and to take his piano for November Rain (not including his solo this time).
Like the majority of the crowd, Axl looked upset, pissed off and in no form to be on stage after the fiasco that had occurred earlier in the night but his voice was strong, soaring, deep and shirking. Every note was delivered perfectly and had he been more animated, no-one in the audience would have known there’d ever been a problem.
Leaving the stage around 01:00am, the band had managed to play almost their entire set and Axl once again spoke to the crowd to wish us a good night. The band forwent their usual collective bow and Frank Sinatra’s My Way came over the PA as the house lights lit up. Show over, people left quietly in a mixed state of disillusionment, disappointment tiredness and for some, a secret thrill that they had attended what will surely become a highly talked about, notorious Guns show. For others, the circus of media attention awaiting the next day seemed like a hassle not needed after a night like that. Some fans just left happy enough to have seen the band play their full set.
The BLITZ!: It wasn’t all bad, quite the opposite in fact…
In stark contrast to the Dublin show, Guns N’ Roses performance in Belfast was immaculate, euphoric, rapturously well received and quite simply, amazing. It was a testimonial that the current line-up and Axl can come together so perfectly and deliver a nights entertainment that few can measure when fans in attendance are respectful to the band.
Taking the stage roughly 35 minutes after support band Danko Jones finished their set, Guns came out with all ..ehm, guns blazing. Chinese Democracy blew the arena to pieces and the mere sight of the iconic front man was enough to lift everyone to their feet and explode with delight that Guns were here, they were on stage and they were kicking ass.
Welcome To The Jungle blitzed the Odyssey Arena as all fans, new and old, diehard and greatest hits folks jumped for the ceiling with Axl dominating every corner of the stage. The claims that the singer was bloated unfit and unable to sing turned out to be total rubbish and became so laughable, few could even remember there ever was any negativity in the press. It’s So Easy and Mr. Brownstone only strengthened the audiences excitement and sheer joy that the band were firing on all cylinders, delivering an already highly memorable performances.
Sorry went over exceptionally well for a new ballad after such an explosive start and Richard Fortus’ solo brought him closer to the crowds hearts, making that initial step to being accepted into the old fans hearts. Live and Let Die turned into a 14,000 strong sing along and This I Love was again warmly welcomed before the classic Rocket Queen once again brought the crowd to its full force fighting feet. A piano solo from Dizzy Reed calmed the now drink/breath starved audience before the band returned to the stage to deliver a note perfect rendition of Street of Dreams, one of Chinese Democracy’s real highlights. Axl smiled the entire way through the show, obviously ecstatic that the headlines from the weekend were behind him and Guns were back to doing what they do best, putting on the greatest show on earth. He looked great, sounded great and with occasional costume changes, he made this every bit a Guns N’ Roses show we’d ever heard about – without the controversy.
You Could Be Mine and Sweet Child O Mine ripped through the arena like a tornado with the crowd showing pure excitement in every form. Moshing broke out towards the front, crowd surfing started, everyone with a pack of cigarettes in the middle broke them out and for the first time in a long time, we knew we were at a real rock n roll show. Axl arrived in stage to a disco ball styled Roland piano for a nurturing solo before causing mass eruption with the opening notes to the classic November Rain, which on its own made the ticket price worth every penny. The band were as tight as they come, the stage show was amazing with explosions, towering flames and visuals for almost every performance.
Ron Thal’s Pink Panther solo added an inspiring, comical touch to the night with the crowd singling along to the familiar themes before new song, Better turned up to fight Chinese Democracy’s corner and win. Knockin’ On Heavens Door and the amazing Nightrain finished the main set and saw Guns temporally depart.
Returning on his own, Ron Thal again took a solo, delighting fans with an instrumental rendition of Don’t Cry before the band accompanied him for a truly spectacular performance of Madagascar. One final instrumental jam lead the way for tonight’s closing anthem, Paradise City which saw crowd and band alike explode enthusiastically as the arena became engrossed in pyro displays, red and silver confetti and the closing moments of one of the best shows most of us had ever seen.
Guns remained on stage to give three appreciative bows to the audience who stood strong to rousing applaud the band for their incredible performance that delivered everything a fan could ever ask for from any live band. Guns left as heroes, fans left delighted, filled with adrenaline after more than two hours of classic anthems from one of the worlds greatest bands.
The Good: …?…
Guns N’ Roses let alot fans down last night. Some fans let Guns N’ Roses down last night. Axl and co made people wait over 40 minutes (more than an hour including set-up time) for the show to start. The crowd greeted the band with boos (fair enough, Axl has to have come to expect this. It’s as much a part of the show as the late starts themselves). On top of that however, certain crowd members threw multiple objects at the stage with 2/3 hitting Axl directly. For the safety of himself and the band, Axl made his position clear and someone chose to ignore this.
There is no excuse for throwing objects at a stage, what ever they might be. There is never any reason to throw anything at any performer in the middle of a crowd trying to do his job, no matter how angry or upset you are. He was there, the band was playing and sounded great and people couldn’t let it go. No band should ever put up with that kind of attitude from the crowd and ignoring it and carrying on is not the answer. Bands who let things like happen are only asking for much worse trouble.
Axl was hit straight on with a bottle during welcome to the Jungle and ignored it. After a second object hit him when his back was turned he warned the crowd. After a third object hit him, again when his back was turned; he left. Any reasonable human being with an ounce of cop on knows he was fully in the right. He would have put up with the booing, the chants and the insults but he’s not stupid enough to become a target for every drunken attendee standing in the mass, blacked out crowd cowardly throwing objects at him. They may have been plastics, but stand there long enough; god knows what else would have appeared.
On the other hand, Axl displayed his happy, gracious and true front man powers in Belfast, performing a truly outstanding and memorable show. That that will sadly be completely eclipsed because of last night but for the 14,000 that showed up, we know exactly what Guns are capable of when the crowd and band are in good form. Dublin missed out on a great opportunity and though Guns played, it wasn’t the show it could have been. The media didn’t seem to care when things went right one night but they can’t get enough of today’s headlines. Hopefully some will calm down and see the unevenness the media creates around the bands image and the knock on effect this has on people attending the shows. Others won’t and will bad mouth Gn’R for the rest of their days. What ever happens, this year Ireland got to see every side of hard rocks greatest band, the good, the bad and the Blitz!
To see the three bottles that struck Axl during Welcome to the Jungle, watch the video below and see the following minutes,