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Down To Paradise City ..... (Ottawa Review)


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DATE: Nov. 19, 2006

SOURCE: The Ottawa Sun

Down to Paradise City

Axl and GN'R give Ottawa a command performance

By Ann Marie McQueen

Ottawa Sun

One thing is for sure, no matter what you think of the man, the assembled band or the notion itself: Axl Rose brought it to Scotiabank Place when he played into the wee hours of yesterday morning.

It doesn't matter whether you see the equally reviled and revered 44-year-old as an obnoxious relic-brat who refuses to go quietly, a next-generation symbol of everything bad-ass, or a man capable of delivering steel-melting vocals that can transport a person back to 1990 in an note. There was no denying that over 10,000 fans who took in a two-hour, 20-minute show were in the presence of a true rock star.


So much has been written about Rose and the band of six assembled musicians that make up the modern-day Guns N' Roses, only without the Slash. Cancelled shows, Rose's tendency to be cranky and arrogant and strange, the mythical Chinese Democracy album more than 10 years in the making, the way this tour starts playing each show when they are good and ready.

No one in Kanata on Friday night seemed to care about all that. Though the last part turned out to be true: After opening acts including Skid Row's Sebastian Bach and the chocolate sauce-implementing burlesque show Suicide Girls were through, it was nearly midnight.

The motley assembled crowd was about to burst when ex-Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finch finally appeared, leaning down and teasing the front row with the first blistering licks of Welcome to the Jungle.

They went bananas when Rose came out: the short cornrows tied back in a ponytail, fierce face torqued up with a full-on goatee, wraparound shades, leather shirt open low to reveal a big silver cross, and ripped jeans.

"Do you know where the f--- you are?" he screamed to a sea of gleefully pointing fingers.

And then they were off, turning in one of the best rock shows in recent Ottawa memory. There were the favourite tunes: Heroin ode Mr. Brownstone,the wicked Patience, with Rose whistling the interludes.

The crowd was obviously acquainted with new tune Better, many singing along, and adored over-the-top covers of Live and Let Die and Knockin' on Heaven's Door.

The biggest surprise of the night was just how hard Rose sings for his supper. The voice was still astonishing, if unreliable at key times -- sadly, on the wicked stripper anthem Sweet Child 'O Mine -- and at others, overpowered by the trio of guitars. But whether he was pounding a grand piano's keys on November Rain, or spinning around in a hard-core backwards one-foot spin as fireworks rained down on the stage during the explosive final moments of show-closer Paradise City, Rose worked harder than expected.

Playing to the crowd, dancing, running, and that instantly recognizable back-and-forth rocking dance of his, it was no wonder Rose goes through what has been a heavily criticized half-dozen costume changes per show: The man works up a fearsome sweat.

It's not as if there was nothing to do while he was changing: each of the musical interludes provided serious entertainment. It's not often you see a grand piano wheeled out on stage for a stirring solo, courtesy of an Ottawa Senators sweater-wearing Dizzy Reed. There were duelling guitars on a hard-core instrumental version of Christina Aguilera's You're Beautiful, and a blistering O Canada. So many guitar solos, so little time. The progressively drunken stage appearances by the rum-and-coke wielding, F-bomb dropping Trailer Park Boys were an added bonus to a night that would have been a gong show were it not so fun.

Shenanigans aside, in the words of a guy sitting beside me, the crowd had one goal.

"I just want to see Axl, man."

They got him, and a more genuine, and generous, smile-cracking version than anyone expected.



Related Forum Discussion: http://www.mygnrforum.com/index.php?showtopic=84588

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