What do you do when your heroes don’t live up to your expectations?
I was lucky enough to go to the recent Download Festival in Donington Park, and was looking forward to seeing Guns n Roses in the flesh and as close to the original lineup as they have been in years. Little did I know what a massive disappointment they would be.
Amazingly they started pretty much on time (historically they have been well known to frequently come on hours late), and had obviously spent a lot of time and effort on the massive video screen background to entertain the crowd with (although I think this was also deployed as a distraction tool to make up for what was lacking onstage). They had set up some walkways on stage but these were barely used. The stage set looked quite empty. The keyboardist and other musician, (Dizzy Reed and Melissa Reese – the first female to be in Guns n Roses who plays synthesiser (?)) were hidden from view amongst the stage walkway apparatus and set back from the crowd. It was almost as if they were less important and just there as session musicians, and divided from the 4 out front walking around (Axl, Slash, Richard Fortus (rhythm guitarist who had Izzy style hair so you almost believed another original member was present!) and Duff) as there was no real interaction with the two parties. They looked quite tired, a bit fed up and like they didn’t want to be there and couldn’t stand each other. They looked like a bunch of guys at work, doing it because they had to and not because they wanted to. I know they are touring like mad at the moment and had just flown in from Denmark and seem to be in a different country every day at the moment so they must be knackered, but I was just getting the vibe that their hearts were not in it. Axl looked like he was enjoying it the most, and they made sure to do lots of his ‘solo’ material from Chinese Democracy and give him lots of time on the piano so I suppose he was happy he had that dominance. Rarely were any member of the band in close proximity to each other and if they were it looked awkward. At some points the stage appeared empty with Slash and Duff hiding out at the extremities and Axl going backstage or behind the set frequently. Axl, Slash and Duff didn’t seem to make eye contact with each other at all or smile, and their body language seemed to suggest they didn’t want much to do with each other. Axl’s voice did waver a bit on some songs and couldn’t manage some of the high sustained stretches he used to, and his interaction with the crowd was minimal and not very effective.
I got the impression that this reunion is all about money; expensive merchandise, massive social media promo campaign, and the new appetite for destruction release which comes in a variety of different packs, boxes and combinations that can have you spending anything from £20-£350 on the reissue edition. Everything was promoted and sold as them being back to the old original GnR, but sadly there was no raw magic power or energy, no dynamic, the unit no longer had the aggressive spark they used to – they didn’t come across as a team. They didn’t come across as enjoying what they were doing or enjoying being with each other. It was quite sad really. I came away from it thinking I will just enjoy the music they made years ago and remember them how they were and what they used to stand for, because this isn’t GnR as we know it anymore, it is a tired imitation. I think a little bit of love for my heroes died that day!
I saw more fire and fight in other bands such as Inglorious and Black Stone Cherry. They had that energy and passion for what they were doing, but they also looked like they enjoyed each other’s company, worked well as a unit, and were loving what they were doing. Couldn’t have been more opposite to Guns n Roses. I was bowled over by Inglorious, Whiskey Myers and Volbeat. They were all outstanding and definitely worth checking out if you haven’t heard of them. Whiskey Myers are like a modern Lynyrd Skynyrd:
I also really enjoyed Dragonforce, The Struts, The Temperance Movement, Thunder, Black Stone Cherry, In This Moment and Marilyn Manson (although Marilyn was a bit of a mess and clearly off his face (!) he managed to still do all his hits).
Guns n’ Roses’ set was also not helped by us being crushed at the front after holding the spot for about 8 hours waiting for GnR to come on. We stood up all day at the main stage, which was fantastic as we had a great view but it completely murdered my back(I have lower back problems from previous RTA). By the time GnR came on it was so tightly packed with people I couldn’t even stretch or move a muscle without bumping someone, and was in a lot of pain – quite a commitment to seeing my heroes by enduring all that! Everyone was pretty amicable and polite before this point, but as soon as GnR arrived suddenly a rush of assholes came to the front, elbowing people and smoking cigarettes so close to other people they nearly burnt them (who smokes in a tightly packed crowd? Honestly! So inconsiderate!). I had a bit of a barney over this with one of the ‘fest-bitches’ (as I decided to call them after spotting so many that stuck out like sore thumbs amidst the sea of black clad rockers…Fest-Bitch definition: scantily clad super-entitled up-their-own-asses girls presumably from a wealthy background who seem to want to be at a festival just because it’s a festival and not because they give a shit about the music or are fans of any of the bands – they just want to sleep with random strangers, get drunk and high and enjoy acting like a complete twat and picking fights with random people) who pushed to the front and made things miserable for everyone around them. It is unfortunate that selfish dicks like this ruin things for other people. It became unbearable and we decided to get pulled out of the crowd by security. Overrall I can say seeing GnR was not a positive experience for me. Perhaps it has had an effect on delaying this project too, as I have fallen out of love with them a bit for the time being! I have also not had any spare time due to nursing placement and uni work, but still it has been a fair while since I’ve given it much thought and I think this experience certainly contributed.
So my Appetite for Destruction project is kind of on hold at the moment, but I’m still hoping to record It’s So Easy soon when I get a chance and start it up again, probably when my current placement is finished and when time and money allow.
On a more positive note, my WTTJ video has been finished and added to YouTube! I think the photographer/videographer/producer Jake Southern did a great job, I especially like the bit around the bridge section of the song with the cars and lights. I’m not 100% happy with how I look in it but I guess I need more practice in front of the camera and getting the angles right for me. I’m happy with how the recording turned out. Here it is:
Das ist alles für jetzt!
Auf Wiedersehen 🙂