This time, it was at Dublin, Ireland’s O2 Arena. Guns N’ Roses had arrived three hours late (translated to GN’R time: right on schedule) to play a show there. Part way into their most famous song, “Welcome To The Jungle”, an errant bottle flies toward the stage. (Whether or not it hit Axl or anyone else is unknown.) Axl Rose stops the song and tells the crowd, “Here’s the deal – one more bottle and we go home. It’s up to you. We would like to stay – do you want us to stay? We want to stay. We want to have fun. If you don’t want to have fun, all you gotta do is let us know. We’ve got no problem; we’ll be on our way.” Despite a chorus of boos, the band restarted the song – only this time the response is hundreds of plastic bottles being hurled.
Guns N’ Roses, instead of living up to Axl’s word, stuck it out for another 20 minutes. After the continuous volley wouldn’t stop, Axl Rose walked off the stage with the rest of the band. The promoters take to the stage, explained that they are having “technical difficulties” (read: a problem with keeping stuff from being launched at the stage and desperately trying to talk the band in to going back out) and asked the crowd to refrain from throwing anything at the performers. After half an hour of no show – during which many people left – the band took the stage again and played another 90 minutes (to, by that point, an almost half-empty arena).
The promoters spoke to the press after the debacle, saying that, “Despite his continued appeals, having tried to continue performing for 22 minutes, people continued throwing unknown substances leaving the artist with no choice but to leave the stage.” The fact that Guns N’ Roses had a “long history for being late on stage” was acknowledged, but the promoters also added, “NO artist should be subjected to missiles and unknown substances being thrown at them.”
It’s already been established that, in that respect, they’re 100% right. And, no matter how late he was or how terrible Rose’s performance was (which seems to be the other factor in the bottle barrage), that attack wasn’t even called for, much less earned. All the credit in the world should be given to Rose and the band (who tried valiantly to salvage the show despite the crowd’s – and Rose’s – best efforts) for carrying on in the face of a full-on revolt that could have gotten dangerously out-of-hand.
However, by this stage in the game, some of the blame also has to be laid at Rose’s feet. This isn’t 1991 anymore. Back then, Rose could get away with being that late because they were the biggest band in the world. That and the blame for the consistent tardiness could be laid at the feet of others.
Nineteen years later, Chinese Democracy – an album that took eighteen years to see the light of day – became modern music’s equivalent of the Hindenberg. The band would have lost its lustre if they were still together, but that decline is compounded by the fact that Axl is the only one left. He’s the only common factor in the band being late to perform almost two decades ago and today. He also seems to believe that Guns N’ Roses is still the biggest thing going today and that he can get away with having that same arrogant swagger.
Buying a day planner of some sort wouldn’t hurt the man one bit. Hell, Google Maps will tell you how long it takes to get somewhere! Technology has removed that excuse altogether! More than that, though, Axl Rose needs to sharpen his performance skills and realize that the Guns N’ Roses name is not only not what it once was, but that it needs to be salvaged after this set of European shows if it even has a chance of surviving.
When they were the biggest band on the planet, Guns N’ Roses could barely get booked anywhere because of the trouble they brought to the table. Times are vastly different, but yet Rose is still carrying on as if this is his heyday. If this band has a chance of playing future shows…if Guns N’ Roses even has a chance of surviving…Axl Rose is going to have to do a lot of work on turning around his reputation.