I caught Guns N Roses live about a week or two ago when they came to Singapore. It was really nice to see Axl, Slash and Duff on the same stage, and it was quite amazing to hear their songs – which I’ve heard so many times over the years as a teenager – and to hear a big crowd sing them along with me, and with 3 of the guys who wrote them, who were perhaps most associated with them.
And yet, while it was an incredible experience, some bit of it felt weird. And for some reason I’ve been on a bit of a GNR kick since then, looking up old videos, recent videos and so on. It’s quite mindblowing to realize that the show I watched was 29 years after the awesome set that the band played at the Ritz in ’88. Both Slash and Axl look a little tired and old, which is understandable. They still run around the stage like mad, which I found impressive. But also being so much older, they surely have a slightly different perspective on life. They don’t have as much testosterone coursing through their veins maybe.
Anyway while going through YouTube videos, I found that Steven Adler – their original drummer – played with them on some of their sets when playing in the US. And the guy was having so much fun – but more importantly, the band sounded more like what I expect it to sound like. Which makes me realize that there’s something distinctive about the “Steven Adler sound” that I never quite identified. It makes sense – as a bass player I can easily tell the difference between multiple bass players. But I’m not a drummer or rhythm guitarist, so changes on those fronts aren’t so obvious to me.
GNR + fame
Sunday coffee thoughts. I caught Guns N’ Roses live last night, and I’m glad I did. I’m now watching a video of one of the best shows they ever did, a full 29 years ago – Live at the Ritz, 1988.
Axl said this as the intro to a song:
> “We want to dedicate this song to the people who try to hold you back, the people that tell you how to live, the people that tell you how to dress, the people that tell you how to talk, the people who tell you what you can say and what you can’t say – I personally don’t need that. I don’t need that shit in my life. Those are they kind of people that get me down, they make me feel like somebody out there is Out Ta Get Me”
It’s interesting to think about how, when a band is at that stage – and I remember reading about this in Motley Crue’s memoir, there are a few stages that an artist goes through. From hungry and unknown to hungry and at the breaking point, and then thrown into this massive machine where it doesn’t matter what they do – when they get fed more than they can eat, and stuffed more and more.
It’s interesting to think about how the band blew up. How you become the victim of your own success. How nobody really is out to get you more than yourself.