Awe shit. THe last thing i wanted to do was type my ass off at the computer, but fuck it
The first little era of NU-GNR is one of my favorites and I love talking about it. For me, like most people who have already commented, its pretty hard to choose between 2002 and 2006-2007. Both of them were equally good and I always end up re-choosing between the two.
The only thing I really enjoy about the 2001 band is the reaction Brazil gives them at Rock in Rio III and the ushering in of the Chinese Democracy Era. Like honestly, fuck yeah! thats how I would feel if i was without GNR for close to 8 years!!! Most of those people in that crowd were probably 10 when Guns were touring the world for Illusions. Other then that, the mystery was there, but I can't really get behind Paul Tobias. Very pointless addition, but Axl owed him his life I guess? Who knows...
The transition into 2002 was weird. You had Axl dressing like he did with these weird new braids, a man in a mask with a bucket on his head, and uh wha the fuck was Finck wearing most of the time? I always thought Axl was hitting a very early mid-life crisis at that point. If i remember correctly, he was fascinated with rap culture and maybe that was his way of paying homage to it in his limber late 30s? Enough about the way they were dressed though. People tend to get really hooked up on that. The real fact of the matter was that these dudes where playing the shit out of these songs live. Bucket who had been in the band for a handful of shows had become very comfortable and his improv became way better then the 2001 shows imo. Thats why we have so many people running around here talking about Buckethead Nightrain solos and outros. They're no joke! It's honestly like the man just pulls notes out of thin air. It all flows so beautifully though. Bucket as well as Brain were truly great editions during Axls little experimentation period. I also really enjoy the slowed down KOHD from this period. Yeah, it misses the illusions "punch", but its nothing like the KOHD thats been played since 2009. It just sounds nicer. Blame that one on Axls voice and a different host of musicians over the past decade. Speaking of Axl's voice, it wasn't the greatest, but for what that tour was and should have been, it fit. The random spurts of mickey mouse on helium may make you cringe for a second, but its not all that bad compared to what would come within a couple years. The music from the band was drowning it out too. Most of those 2002 shows you can sit through and not question why the fuck your listening to this. You would probably do that 5 songs into a bootleg from 2011-2014 though.
One of the things I think i really appreciate about this era is that people were interested in the band. I think many younger people were drawn to GNR in the early 2000's because they had heard the stories and tales of the baddest band in the land and they wanted to be apart of it. Luckily Axl kept it interesting with a couple riots and cancelations here and there but fans built places like this that still survive today because Axl decided to try and make a group of misfits continue the GNR name and I think that is awesome as shit.
Now I'm a bit biased when it comes to 2006/2007. Thats when i first started liking the band, well the old band. But at the time I knew about the current band but didn't really think much of it. I essentially lived through Axls best vocal performance since the early 90's and didn't even know it happened. In the years after that I looked back on the footage and the state of the band at the time and you can certainly see a BAND in them. They were dressed in modern clothes. Axl looked like he had aged to his age, all while reminding everyone that he was still keeping it fresh with the braids. Fincks Moses like stature made him look like that big burly lead guitarist that almost every metal band has. The look just fit. There was certainly a swagger about that band that was lost as soon as Axl disappeared again not even a year later, and with Fincks ultimate departure. Bumblefoots arrival in place of Buckethead also added to the band and refined their sound to sound more rock and roll if you get what im saying. Go watch a show from 02 and then watch one from 06 or 07. The guitars are chunkier. There wasn't really a guitarist to steal the show in the vein of Slash and Bucket. They all more or less worked together to get through that timeframe and it worked really well. It brought GNRs bad boy rock sound back.
Axls vocals during this time were crazy impressive and honestly we have yet to hear him sing that good since in my honest opinion. He was confident again like how he was at club shows around the time AFD was released. I mean he went into the crowd at Rock Am Ring 2006 to give people high fives and NOT take their cameras.... All of the boots from that era are really clear sounding too. I can actually hear what the fuck Chris Pitman plays during It's So Easy on some boots.
I feel like this is around the time Rock music started dying. Everything popular with rock at this time was Emo in the vein of My Chemical Romance. Linkin Park was releasing their 3rd album. Nothing about "rock music" since has made anyones dick stand at attention. Thats why you didn't see younger people coming to shows from 2009-2014, not to mention that iteration of the band was a joke in and of itself. This version of the band, the 2006-2007 lineup, was the last great GNR lineup that really got me excited for GNR. Of course we never thought we would see Slash on stage with Axl ever again, its getting to the point where time is running out. Whats next? Where do we go now? Is there anything else left to do with this band? Just my 2 cents though.
Its crazy to think all of this is 10+ years ago... It feels like just yesterday. Scary how time flies man.