I have rarely had the distinct pleasure of attending a concert and watching a fantastic band play non-stop for three hours. On the other hand, I don't go to shows that are three hours late very often, either. Such is the "magic" of what is currently known as Guns N' Roses (though it should probably be called the Axl Rose Project, as my boyfriend dubbed it).
As a whole, I would say that seeing them live was a blast. The music was great (sounded wonderful) and of course we know a lot of their famous tunes because they're always on the radio. I found Axl's performance severely lacking, even putting his enormous ego aside, yet I still managed to have a good time listening to the good musicians he had surrounded himself with.
For starters, each musician besides the drummer got to perform a song on their own in order to showcase their skills. This is something I've never seen before and, frankly, more bands should do it. The most I see them ever give the band members is a break during a song for some free-style. Since GnR consists of eight members (that I saw), there were seven numbers which were stylistic, interesting covers performed to the strengths of whoever was showcasing themselves. The bassist even sang his own solo! It was just good fun.
I was surprised to hear stuff like The Who and the Pink Panther theme come up at different points of the show. It was refreshing, and gave the group members a lot of personality. In a way, I feel like it was necessary for each member to express themselves considering the group had gone through so much change. How do you stand out as you are unless you figure out how to break the mold? It was brilliant.
As I mentioned before, Axl was disappointing. He changed outfits no less than seven times in the course of the show, and tossed aside his mic stand even more times (to the chagrin of a poor crew member who had to go, pick it up and place it at a designated spot each time). I don't think even female pop stars change that many times (unless it's Lady Gaga), yet the effect was intensely enhanced by the fact that we could barely hear Axl at all. I'm not sure what sort of sound issues they were having, but the band sounded great while Axl himself was simply drowned out.
At the end of the day I wasn't too torn up about the sound. There's only so much that excessive tee, hat and jacket changes or painfully excessive pyrotechnics can do for your show when the front man isn't as energetic as he should be. I think Axl is just getting old.
While I'm happy that I had the experience, I won't be repeating it. Our night was such that we could have probably argued our way to a ticket refund since our seats were barfed on when we arrived at the venue and had to relocate besides the horrific wait. We ended up sitting in the handicap area at the back of our section, which was great (no heads in front of us, or getting up every time someone needs to go by). The downside was, of course, we were even further away from the stage than where we started. By the time 3 a.m. rolled along though, we were so beat we just wanted to go home.
Again, I did find the show to be very entertaining. Is it worth waiting until midnight to enjoy, three hours past the ticket time and two hours past the end of the first act? That depends on how much you like the band or want to see them for the sake of posterity or nostalgia (though I would argue that for nostalgia's sake, you'd be mightily disappointed). I had two reasons for going: First, I was invited; and second, posterity. In my case, I feel immensely satisfied. The show really was great fun, after all! I just felt exhausted by the end of it (I'd been downtown for seven hours at this point).
The hype certainly was a failure, and by midnight the crowd had broken out "booing" several times. Sorry, Axl, but that's not cool. "You suck at hype!"