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Was anyone here at one of GNR's riot shows?


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Well, no. But at São Paulo 2010 Axl stopped the concert during Chinese Democracy because he was hit with a bottle of water, and said he was gonna leave the concert. Thing is, at the time I had no idea why he had stopped the concert. No one knew what was going on. People started chanting "son of a bitch" and everyone started pushing. It was a very tense moment. If Axl had really left, that stadium would have gone down... I mean, 50 thousand angry people. Man...

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Use Your Disillusion – Guns N’ Roses @ The O2 Dublin

It don’t really matter,
Gonna find out for yourself…

Prophetic words from W. Axl Rose in light of the fiasco that was last nights gig at the O2 by Guns N’ Roses. In what turned out to be a losing scenario for both the band and the audience alike, all that were present certainly found out one thing for themselves – you don’t fuck with an Irish audience and you don’t fuck with Guns N’ Roses. However in this instance it most certainly DOES MATTER. Before I get into the precise details as to why the night descended into chaos allow me to row back a bit and put this whole thing into perspective.

The original incarnation of Guns N’ Roses are LOVED in Ireland. When they headlined Slane back in 1992 they WERE the most dangerous band in the world. Ireland embraced Guns N’ Roses like prodigal sons, welcoming them with open arms, with both Axl and Duff pointing to their Irish heritage and fans immediately gravitating to a band that exemplified the true rebel spirit of rock n’ roll. Ireland and GNR were a perfect fit. Then in the intervening years GNR had their ups and downs while Ireland enjoyed an unprecedented economic boom that transformed this country beyond recognition and greatly increased the wealth of the majority of the population. Then in 2006 a somewhat hesitant crowd showed up to the RDS to see a revamped GNR and to everyone’s surprise Axl took to the stage at 8.00pm and played a storming gig that went off without a hitch much to the surprise of everybody concerned. Axl has since pointed to this gig and mentioned how much fun it was for the band and audience alike. There were no bottles thrown and by and large everybody had a good time.

Then something ugly happened. Ireland in the past two years has experienced the worst recession of any country in the Western world. The country is on the verge of bankruptcy, with record numbers of people becoming unemployed and many people losing their homes. In short, the country is totally fucked and the national mood is angry, VERY VERY ANGRY. It appears however that GNR are also experiencing their own recent problems, first with the Twitter incident, followed by the Reading and Leeds mess. What some people here might not know, is that Ireland is saturated by the UK media. We are not a part of the UK, but we do receive their newspapers and most households have UK cable TV. Everyone at the gig in Dublin would have been aware of the incidents mentioned above, but the vast majority present were not die-hard fans who would have seen through a lot of the bullshit reported by the UK media. This is significant because most of these casual fans were arriving at the gig with false assumptions of what had taken place at the Reading and Leeds festival. Narratives matter, especially ones that are built on lies and rumour, and the narrative that people had in their minds going into the gig last night was that Axl went onstage late at Reading and Leeds, threw a massive hissy fit, ended the show early and basically fucked over everyone at the gig. I know this because this is what people were talking about all day in the lead up to the show in Dublin, both on Irish forum Boards.ie and on the train to the gig itself. I knew the facts to be quite different but the MAJORITY believed otherwise, based on the crap they were hearing from the UK media. This effectively laid the foundations for what happened last night at the O2.

Now as for the gig itself, here is how it all went down from my perspective. I arrived there at around 7.45pm. I missed the meet-up at Bruxelles because I was running late in getting to Dublin. I was supposed to be going with a friend, but he pulled out because he was sick. So I travelled into Dublin on the LUAS, which brought me right to the O2. I had a return ticket for the LUAS in order to get home after the gig. My friend told me that the LUAS shuts down at 12.30am so I had to be on that last train if I wanted to get home after the gig, as did the VAST MAJORITY of concertgoers. On the way up to the venue, the LUAS was packed with GNR fans and many of them were mentioning how the curfew at the O2 is 11.30pm. Again from what people on the train and in the crowd at the O2 were saying, the perception was that the gig had to be over at 11.30pm. Whether this information is right or wrong, this is IMPORTANT nonetheless. On entering the O2 I grabbed one pint from the bar and made my way into the crowd. Danko Jones were playing and a reasonable group of people had already gathered in front of the stage. The upper tier seating also looked fairly full. By 9.00pm it was obvious to both myself and a LOT of the crowd that something was not quite right. The support band had been playing for far too long and Del James had been spotted earlier telling them to extend their set. They didn’t finish until 9.15pm having played for 90 minutes. All is all though they were pretty well received and the crowd was having fun. By 9.45pm things were starting to turn sour. Although I didn’t see this, people have claimed that both Ron and DJ were spotted side stage pointing at their watches and shaking their heads. There was a light booing coming from around the arena at this stage. It was unbearably hot and people were lashing the drink into themselves. I had long finished my beer and there was no way I was moving from near the front of the stage just to get a beer. So unlike most of the people there I was sober. It was also blindly obvious by now that the stage was ready and yet still no sign of the band. 10.00pm and the chorus of boos was actually VERY loud. The band must have known that the crowd was becoming very irritable. Still no sign of anything, and people getting drunker and angrier by the minute. All the conversation around me was of the 11.30pm curfew and the LUAS closing at 12.30am. By 10.15pm I started to get really worried. I knew that the band would come on and play a full set, ignoring the curfew but most of the people around me DID NOT and they actually began to think that GNR would not show at all. By 10.20pm the booing was coming from all over the arena LOUDLY. There was a very hostile atmosphere in the audience and it was becoming quite uncomfortable. Then suddenly the lights went down and the intro began, almost drowned out by a mixture of cheering and booing.

Chinese Democracy is a great opener. The crowd were into it, but not exactly going wild. Axl was having problems with his mic and had to stand in the one spot singing while some tech guy tried to fix the problem. The band was giving it everything but Axl looked PISSED. When the song ended, the booing was still noticeable amongst the cheering. Then the shit hit the fan. The band launched into Jungle. Now see this is interesting regarding the audience. I know DJ’s routine of stuttering the opening whilst cupping his ear to the audience. Some of the people around me however clearly misinterpreted this to mean that he was goading the people who were booing. I could be wrong here but judging from the reaction of those around me, some of whom were giving DJ the finger, this MAY have actually prompted the throwing of the first plastic bottle. It sailed over Axl’s head hitting him with a fine spray. Axl looked furious and stopped the band. You know what happened here already so I haven’t anything else to add. When the band started up Jungle again Axl was singing it brilliantly until the end where he completely went out of time with the band. Then we had Its So Easy and Mr. Brownstone. Axl seemed to be way too low in the mix, I couldn’t hear him at all and the overall sound was muddy as hell (at least from where I was standing, about 10 people from the front). The band followed those two with Sorry, which to be honest went over like a lead balloon. It sucked the life out of the arena, again pointing to the crowd being more of a casual audience than a hardcore group of fans. Just as Axl was introducing Richard Fortus another projectile hit the stage. I didn’t see this happen but what I did see was Axl storming off and the band seemingly unconcerned by the second incident. The were clearly not as bothered initially by this as Axl. They left the stage very slowly looking somewhat dejected by everything. The crowd were now at boiling point and the longer the band stayed offstage the more and more people flooded out of the exit doors. More bottles started to rain down on the stage, with several falling short and hitting the fans at the front, myself included. All of a sudden I got an unmerciful whack in the back of the head and I spun around trying to figure out what the fuck had just hit me. I couldn’t tell but one guy said he thought it was a coin. All I know is that it hurt like hell. People were shouting all kinds of abuse at Axl now and I heard several people calling for a riot. In front of me a few people tried to rush the stage and got into one heck of a brawl with security. It was now becoming a very hostile situation on the floor, and I was very uncomfortable. My health is not good at the moment, I am waiting for a cornea transplant operation and the last thing I need is to get caught up in the middle of a fucking riot. So after five songs and having waited 20 minutes for the band to reappear I turned around and walked out. On the train home I was surrounded by similarly dejected fans, all of whom vowed to never set foot at a Guns N Roses gig again.

In finishing I just want to make one thing clear. The promoters, MCD have a history of fucking up in terms of organising gigs. Last night was no different. Security did tell people that the show was over. One fan has video footage and is organising a mass protest to demand that fans get their money back or they will sue the promoter. People thought that the gig would be over at 11.30pm. Nobody informed the audience that the band would be allowed to play past the curfew. Also many fans were told that if they didn’t have their cars out of the car park at the venue by midnight they would be fined €100. Finally the LUAS train service finishes at 12.30am which meant that if they show went over the curfew an awful lot of fans would be stranded at the venue. The above could all have been avoided had the PROMOTER organised this gig properly. Also what the fuck were they thinking selling plastic bottles at the gig? Madness. The above is why the audience were so angry by the delay in the band talking to the stage. Which gets me to the following.

It is quite clear that the stage was ready for the band at 9.45pm. Yet they were another 40 minutes in taking to the stage. It should have been quite obvious to them that the audience was becoming very unhappy yet nobody tried to explain what was going on. They let the audience stew in unbearable heat and now we all know what happened as a result. Fact is, outside of these forums most of the people going to these gigs know fuck all about the band, who is in it, let alone what time they are likely to take the stage. We the hardcore fans are by and large, a very small minority nowadays. Whether Axl is to blame for the time they hit the stage or not, the narrative amongst the general population is that Axl Rose is a pampered fat balding has been, with a record of no shows and numerous walk offs. Right or wrong, this is now the perception and it is all but irreversible to the general public. Last night was a sad moment for me, sad because I witnessed a great band fall victim to their own reputation, ruining what could have been a fantastic night but which instead has all but ruined any following that they had in this country. 14,000 fans turned up to see a great show but the majority went home very angry, vowing to never go to a GNR gig again. My only fear is that this incident, together with Leeds and Reading, marks the beginning of the end for Axl Rose.

Review I posted after the gig

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