Saturday, August 24, 2002 @ 10:19 AM
Axl & Co. Rock Out the HK Conv
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REVIEW BY: Bren "Bastard" Delfino
"Hong Kong, do you know where the fuck you are?!!" screamed through the PA after the house lights dimmed on Wednesday night (August 14th) at Hong Kong's Convention and Exhibition Centre as Axl Rose and the band ripped into Welcome to the Jungle to the blast of firey pyrotechnics. And although the Hong Kong crowd was expecting fireworks from the new-look GNR, Axl and the boys played well, but were no match for the sheer explosive chemistry that made the original line-up so exciting. Seeing them without Slash and Duff is a bit like eating a cake without icing.
However, we aren't complaining too much! The band was awesome, pounding out all the old hits in a 110-minute show, along with three new ones which included the title track to the upcoming album Chinese Democracy. Every song from Appetite for Destruction was played, except for “You're Crazy” and “Anything Goes,” along with “November Rain,” “Patience,” “Knockin' on Heaven's Door,” “Live and Let Die” and “You Could Be Mine.”
Dressed in a black American football shirt, leather pants and white bandana (he later switched to a white shirt and red bandana) Axl stayed very quiet during the show saying virtually nothing between songs, except for his introduction to the “Chinese Democracy” track, explaining it was inspired by a photo he saw of Hong Kong. They then showed it on the giant video screens and it was of a Chinese-style bicycle in a HK alleyway with 'Guns N' Roses' spraypainted on the wall! Axl said this would be the cover of the album, although it was hard to tell whether he was joking or not. He then went on to say that the album would be out "in a few months."
The song was heavy and well-received by the 2,000-plus beer-swilling crowd who were getting pretty pissed off waiting for the band to start. They were 90 minutes late and people started tearing up the seats in the front few rows before security intervened and pulled the rest of the seating out themselves! As the minutes ticked away the crowd's chants of "Axl! Axl! Axl!" soon turned to "Asshole! Asshole! Asshole!" and eventually to "Ozzy! Ozzy! Ozzy!" -- pretty funny.
The crowd loved Buckethead and his num-chuks solo, this being the home of Bruce Lee and all, and chanted "KFC! KFC! KFC!" during his Star Wars guitar solo. Funny stuff. There were even a few guys who brought their own KFC buckets and were wearing them.
There were some really cool graphics shown up on the video screens too, which also showed some cool HK footage during the intro to “Paradise City, the band's encore” -- this went down BIG with the crowd.
However, the highlight of the show was Axl's voice. It was simply fucking awesome! I have never ever heard it better, even on GNR's official live recordings and videos. It was so good that at one point during the opening song I suspected he may have been lip-synching to a tape! But nope, he was just in top form. The only song he had problems with was the final 'rap' part of “You Could Be Mine.” His voice croaked halfway through it and he kind of gave up, picking up again at the chorus.
He also appeared to be having a very, VERY good time throughout the show. There was only one moment where he looked a bit pissed off with one guy in the crowd who was trying to go crowd surfing and shouted out "hey!" into the mic. But the dude soon fell to the ground and Axl chilled.
All in all, the show was a blast and was highly appreciated by the Hong Kong crowd, as we rarely get such top-quality acts passing through. Not the original GNR, but still awesome nonetheless.