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How would you rate Axl's stage presence?


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I will always cherish the original lineup's performances as recorded on film over the years. Their evolution from sleaze-rock hair-metal thrashers circa Ritz '88 towards full-out rock n' roll gods in the early '90s is amazing, and the band's collective stage presence over this time grew stronger and stronger.

Which is why I think it's unfortunate that Tokyo was released on DVD. This was when the band was on the verge of dissolving. You can see it in everyone. The spark is gone. They're big, bloated, tired (not literally). Slash looks bored throughout; Axl's once-random song motions (such as the fuck-off finger, the Brownstone outro with the pushing/pulling hands, etc.) are by this point so typical that he just looks like he's in a routine. It's not fascinating to watch. On top of that they have the huge stadium stage with the keyboardist and the backup singers and everything - it's just a mess to watch, albeit a fascinating mess. (It's not terrible, it just lacks the power of other performances from that tour and from earlier ones.)

I think their stage presence a year or two prior was exceptonal. Slash dominated on guitar and was all over the place, while Axl was totally random and you never knew what to expect. They were tight and bonded well on stage, while managing to bounce off each other.

There is an energy - a raw, visceral energy - to those old performances. Axl was a great part of that. Watching Nightrain from '92 tonight reminded me of that - it wasn't even a great performance but he had such strong stage presence. He was like Mick Jagger, Jim Morrison and Freddie Mercury all in one.

How do you think his stage presence is today?

Here are some things I like:

PROS

- He seems to have accepted his age well and he doesn't try to tire himself out as he did in '01 and '02 by running around endlessly.

- He still has a commanding general stage presence that many singers never achieve.

- He doesn't wear ridiculous clothing like the biker pants anymore, which would be embarassing to see someone wear in today's age (especially someone his age). It was cool back then, but I'm totally glad he's not going out on stage these days with kilts. I would like some bandanas, though! ;)

- He gives the guitarists and other musicians room to "take over" during their moments of glory. Of course, this is also due to the fact that he disappears behind stage, but the fact that he stands back and lets them shine says a lot. Many bands' singers don't do this, they still hog the spotlight during solos and dance and keep themselves in the forefront.

And now, some things I don't like:

CONS

- What happened to his interaction with the audiences? Back in "The Day" he would communicate more. He'd introduce songs, give backstories and anecdotes. He'd often rant, which he's mostly grown out of now (thankfully), but it made for some very interesting performances. Today, I think he needs to work on this. He seems to go on stage and make as little interaction as possible with audiences. There's the occasional "You downloading motherfuckers!" and so on, but the general routine seems stale and repetitive. Every night it opens the same and ends the same. I wish he'd introduce the new songs to people. He's assuming everyone there knows The Blues and IRS are new songs, but a lot of the "old fans" he's playing the older songs for might have no idea what they even are, and then they sit there wondering "What the hell is this?" If Axl would introduce new songs, and say "This is from our upcoming album," it would really work well from a marketing standpoint (promoting the new album) AND it would give people more information on the songs themselves.

- Axl sometimes seems bored on stage. He does the same thing every single show, for example when he sings The Blues he'll jump up on the piano at the same time and dance exactly the same way and do the same "Christ pose" during the outro where he hangs his head back. Now, people have brought up the fact that people who go to these shows often don't see any others and therefore it's fresh to them; however, Axl was far more random back in the '80s/'90s, and I think that's part of what made his stage presence so commanding.

- The trips to the oxygen tank. I guess this is a petty complaint, it's just that I think the transitions should be more graceful. Sometimes (such as during IRS) he practically dashes off stage. I think it wouldn't hurt to kind of "ease" off stage so it doesn't look like he's about to die.

Well, there's my book for the evening. Sorry for the long post. Feel free to leave your thoughts! Thanks. :)

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Good post. I agree. I must say that his confindence? in his voice seems to be a good as ever, not his lungs but his voice. lol I think if he added 5 minutes of interaction with the crowd to the 2 1/2 hour show, most people would love it.

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Yes, Axl doesn't use his 'moves' like he used to, but I think it allows the rest of the band to be highlighted. Just watch Fortus or Finck - they have amazing presences on stage and are glorious to watch more on stage.

Eh, I don't know. While I agree that Fortus and Finck have more stage presence than they did in 2002, in my opinion there isn't a great chemistry with Axl. I think Axl has the best chemistry with Tommy. Tommy is great, he has a lot of energy and is kind of all over the place like Duff used to be. I'm not such a big fan of Finck. He sounds great in the studio but I think his playing live is inconsistent and his stage presence is fairly weak, but this is judging by the recordings we have. I haven't been to one of their shows, and I've heard he has better stage presence when you see him live.

I think as of right now, Ron has the weakest stage presence, but that's not his fault. He's the newest member, brought into a band with four guitarists (including Tommy on bass). There are so many people on stage that it's hard to really stand out.

To be brutally honest as much as I like Ron as a person, I think dropping him might be beneficial to the band. It just seems too "cluttered" at times. Fortus can do all the stuff Ron's doing on those songs, and Finck can handle the bluesy stuff really well.

But hey, that's just me. I know a lot of people think Ron is a god. He's a damn good guy regardless of whether or not he fits in the band. He's the only one communicating with the fans at this point.

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All in all, Axl's stage presence remains incredibly strong, IMO. The frequent trips backstage are a drag, but when on stage he's still got it.

Any performer is going to look slightly mechnical playing the same dated material night after night. And thanks to video on the web we can over-analyze these things show-to-show like never before.

New material should bring new fire and enthusiasm not only from Axl, but the rest of the band. They should be a whole new group.

Too bad "soon" doesn't seem to be the word...

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I think Axl now is at the stage where people are just happy to see him live. He still has a great stage presence, but I also agree with how they have lost a lot of the spontaneous part of the show, that is lost. I hope (and really hope) that once everything gets out there, and people are more tolerable with GNR, that the band will have that sort of chemistry.

It takes time for something like that to happen, and to do a couple short tours, then take a couple years off, that really hinders a bands ability to create that chemistry. When people come and go (Buckethead, Paul Huge, and now Brain) and they bring in new people, that chemistry cant form.

If GNR can keep a steady lineup, and keep going without taking years off, and keep putting out new material, I think the band will get comfortable and the more spontaneous things will come. Right now, I feel the band is still in the 'honeymoon' phase, they try really hard to make everything sound great, and are trying to win over fans again, which is great.

Once that happens, I think a more relaxed and less 'practiced' band will emerge. At least thats what I hope, and I hope Axl doesnt sit around telling the guys where to stand during each part of the song.

Thats my rant.

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Yes, Axl doesn't use his 'moves' like he used to, but I think it allows the rest of the band to be highlighted. Just watch Fortus or Finck - they have amazing presences on stage and are glorious to watch more on stage.

Eh, I don't know. While I agree that Fortus and Finck have more stage presence than they did in 2002, in my opinion there isn't a great chemistry with Axl. I think Axl has the best chemistry with Tommy. Tommy is great, he has a lot of energy and is kind of all over the place like Duff used to be. I'm not such a big fan of Finck. He sounds great in the studio but I think his playing live is inconsistent and his stage presence is fairly weak, but this is judging by the recordings we have. I haven't been to one of their shows, and I've heard he has better stage presence when you see him live.

I think as of right now, Ron has the weakest stage presence, but that's not his fault. He's the newest member, brought into a band with four guitarists (including Tommy on bass). There are so many people on stage that it's hard to really stand out.

To be brutally honest as much as I like Ron as a person, I think dropping him might be beneficial to the band. It just seems too "cluttered" at times. Fortus can do all the stuff Ron's doing on those songs, and Finck can handle the bluesy stuff really well.

But hey, that's just me. I know a lot of people think Ron is a god. He's a damn good guy regardless of whether or not he fits in the band. He's the only one communicating with the fans at this point.

You haven't seen the band live, yet you think the stage is cluttered and they should drop a guitarist? Sorry, this just doesn't make sense to me. I really hope you see them live so you get it...

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I don't think his stage presence is as good as it was in the heyday of GNR, but he is the best performer I have ever seen other than Prince. There aren't really any good new bands with great stage presence anymore. The closest I've seen is The White Stripes. Jack White can really command a crowd.

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I think GN'R's stage presence is great and they kick ass !!!!! I think they feed off the crowd. The better teh crowd the better the show. The best concert I have been to, hands down !!!!!!!!!!! :devil:

From Detroit, MI (Auburn Hills, MI on Saturday) Every band kicked ass, but wasn't into the local band named Nova Rider.

The Suicide Girls were interesting...

Bach kicked Ass and kept the crowd pumped.

Axl and Company did a great job and the vocals were great. No sound issues at all from where I was.

I had a seat next to a member of the htgth forum and he had one of the shirts on. He was sending updates via text message. He seemed to be a really nice guy and a BIG fan. It was cool to sit next to a real fan.

Thanks,

Rainman rock3

Thanks Guys (and gals) :wub: for a great show !!!!!!!!!!!!!!111

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- The trips to the oxygen tank. I guess this is a petty complaint, it's just that I think the transitions should be more graceful. Sometimes (such as during IRS) he practically dashes off stage. I think it wouldn't hurt to kind of "ease" off stage so it doesn't look like he's about to die.

He has done them since UYI era and the sad fact just is that most singers especially when they grow older, and try to sing, dance and run around the sametime, need such or other kind of 'tweaks'.

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Axl is still very good. He's not what he was due to his age and what not, but still commands and audience. The rest of the band sucks and really 95% of the people going to the shows gives two shits about them. Also, Axl doesn't have Slash to feed off of (and vice versa) so he's a notch down these days.

And the Tokyo DVD is good, its just that you have a bunch of Japanese who can't really sing along being kind of lame. There are plenty of awesome shows after Tokyo, so while the band may have had their issues at that time, I don't think this show reflects that. Have a look at Argentina '93 - you'd hardly think anything was wrong the way they were jamming acoustic on the couch and messing about on stage. That's why its hard for me to believe there were that many problems when you hardly EVER saw it on stage...were they just that good at pretending to like each other while performing because if so, they did a damn good job!

Edited by GeorgeGlass
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Which is why I think it's unfortunate that Tokyo was released on DVD. This was when the band was on the verge of dissolving. You can see it in everyone. The spark is gone. They're big, bloated, tired (not literally). Slash looks bored throughout; Axl's once-random song motions (such as the fuck-off finger, the Brownstone outro with the pushing/pulling hands, etc.) are by this point so typical that he just looks like he's in a routine. It's not fascinating to watch. On top of that they have the huge stadium stage with the keyboardist and the backup singers and everything - it's just a mess to watch, albeit a fascinating mess. (It's not terrible, it just lacks the power of other performances from that tour and from earlier ones.)

I think their stage presence a year or two prior was exceptonal. Slash dominated on guitar and was all over the place, while Axl was totally random and you never knew what to expect. They were tight and bonded well on stage, while managing to bounce off each other.

Great post.

Totally agree with you about the Tokyo DVD. Why on earth they chose to release that is a mystery to me. There's no energy or spark in it at all and the audience seem to be stultifyingly dull. In the bands defence, it must be such a drag playing to an audience like that.

I saw them on the UYI tour and although it's true that a lot of the actions had become routine, they were still spine tinglingly brilliant. Axl has just got presence on or off stage, and even though the years have quitened him down a bit, he still really just has IT.

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I haven't been to one of their shows

No offense, but I hope you're going to one of the remaining shows. I think it's a little unfair to be even speculating about stage presence or how the band performs live w/o seeing them live.

Perhaps this is where some of the bands angst is directed at?

Just a guess :)

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I haven't been to one of their shows

No offense, but I hope you're going to one of the remaining shows. I think it's a little unfair to be even speculating about stage presence or how the band performs live w/o seeing them live.

Perhaps this is where some of the bands angst is directed at?

Just a guess :)

There's no such thing as "speculating" about stage presence. It's not a definite fact one way or the other, it's all personal opinion. Someone who prefers calmer stage presence (such as Dylan's) might hate Axl Rose, whereas someone who enjoys more aggressive presence would hate Dylan's.

And I think it's fair to discuss how a band performs based on videotapes of the concerts. By that logic, does that mean we shouldn't criticize - for example - the Tokyo '92 show? Because we weren't there? I think that show sucked. Should I not be allowed to say this just because I wasn't there?

I pointed out positive things about their performances today, as well as negative aspects. I think that's fair on a GN'R forum regardless of whether I've seen them in the flesh or not. I tried to make a very constructive and thoughtful thread here. :D

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Jokingly, I thought his stage presence in Manchester in 92 was awesome especially as he didn't show up and then made us wait for 10 hours in a boiling hot Maine Road Stadium on the rescheduled show. The same again in Manchester in 2001 when he didnt show up at all and apparently our group and about half a dozen other people didn't know, that aside it was a great evening trawling the Manc pubs.

Thankfully this year he actually showed up in Manchester, we were being to question whether he had scouse blood in him and had something against Manchester.

The show was great but I've got to admit I prefer the earlier stuff when his rants were off cuff and unpredictable. The raw energy back then was what made them different from anybody else. The cheesey smiles between Axl and Seb Bach I can do without. In my opinion he needs to do some exercise so he can at least sing Nightrain without running out of breathe, and get some aggression back in the show, rather than just going through the limited motions as we have nowadays.

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Back in the day, he might have had more stage presance but because of this...

The magority in the old days went to see Guns N' Roses. Now, the magority go to see Axl Rose.

Also, he's 44, he can't be as fiery as he once was. Although, could interact more, but what do you say to massive crowds day in, day out?

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