Guns N' Roses (Photo: official website, David Granot)
In one of the classic How I Met Your Mother sitcom, Bernie explains his theory that "New is Always Better." Ted, his best friend, tries to find holes in Bernie's theory and asks him, "When you go to a Guns N' Roses concert, you're like, 'OK, great, Paradise City, but when do you give your head with a little bit of Chinese democracy?'" Bernie, true to his theory, responds with a signed face: "Obviously, Axel really developed as a songwriter."
It's a funny joke, because obviously no one has ever come to Guns and Roses concerts to hear 21st-century songs. Anyone. Yesterday, there were five such songs, out of a total of 26 songs performed live. And that's okay, of course, especially with such a long show (although it was five songs shorter than last Thursday's show in Abu Dhabi). What's less okay is the puzzling decision not to perform "Don't Cry," one of the band's biggest anthems, in front of an audience of 63,2022 fans who were forced to listen to two weak songs the band released last year instead.
But even those who still believe that the songs Axl Rose wrote in 1991 are better than the huge hits he released in <>, couldn't ignore a much bigger problem: Axel's voice, or more precisely, his lack of voice.
Axl Rose (Photo: official website, David Granot)
At first it was still possible to mistakenly think that it was a sound malfunction, but after a few songs it became clear that the only fault was in the throat of the legendary vocalist. There's no pretty way to say it, certainly about such a beloved singer, but Axl Rose's voice is finished. It's not a fake here and there, or even the familiar excuse of "he can't make it to the tallest of his age." Axel tried to sing, and almost nothing came of it.
Like the little mermaid who gave her voice in exchange for love, Axel stayed with the love of the audience – but without the reason that made him one of the most beloved soloists ever. Whoever was voted number 61 by Rolling Stone magazine on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers Ever just can't sing. That is, he is able to sing, and he did it yesterday for almost three hours, but his voice betrayed him again and again. It's as sad as it sounds.
This is especially sad in light of the fact that this is the biggest international show of the summer of 2023 in Israel. A band with a loyal fan base that has followed it since the late 80s, and a younger audience, some of them elementary school age, who surprised yesterday in large quantities in the lawn of Yarkon Park. Anyone who expected to hear Axel's famous screams from thirty years ago, or even a decade ago, was met with an unpleasant surprise.
More in Walla!
Good news for migraine sufferers: the diagnosis that makes it possible to return to normal life
In collaboration with the Iris Gayer Center for treatment through diagnosis of the eyeball
Guns N' Roses (Photo: official website, David Granot)
On a few occasions when the songs had arrangements adapted to Excel's new and limited range, it suddenly felt like the real thing. For example, this happened towards the end of the show, when the band performed "Knocking On Heven's Door", performed in a tempo slightly slower than the original. Axel suddenly sounded different, singing on a lower scale, and cracked into a fun duet with the happily devoted audience. At this point, instead of using the new energy of the audience, the band performed "Wichita Lineman" in memory of Glenn Campbell. It's one of the most beautiful songs ever written - and a reminder that Guns N' Roses is much more than a hard rock band, with many influences from different genres - but performing a country song at a concert in Tel Aviv, at the height of the show, and more with Axl Rose's fragile voice to say the least, is simply a senseless choice.
It sucks because we were really waiting for Guns' fourth show in the park, certainly after their last visit here in 2017. Even then you could feel creaks in Axel's voice, but everything was dwarfed by the tremendous energy coming from the stage. Last night at the park, despite Slash's rare and amazing display of purpose, evil overcame good. It's not just the strange song selection and not just Axel's voice. Something about the band's energy on stage didn't work.
Between songs there were too long pauses, during which the stage went dark and silence fell on the park. This was especially noticeable in cases where it was possible to gain momentum and lift the performance. For example, after the performance of Sweet Child o' Mine, which woke up the mostly sleepy audience, at the end of which Axel came off the stage to change clothes. He did it five times during the show. When he returned, he sat down on the piano for a performance of "November Rain." Everything was right there. It's still one of the most beautiful songs ever written. One of the greatest masterpieces of the Ninties. With Axel hitting the keyboards, Duff McKagan stroking the bass exactly, and of course, Slash's perfect solo, which somehow gets better over the years. Then Axel started singing, and it was impossible to ignore the fact that he just couldn't. It was pitiful. Such a great singer who crashes on stage in front of so many people who love him.
Slash (Photo: official website, David Granot)
In the encore, just before he started the famous whistle that opens the wonderful Patience, Axel explained to the audience that he had gone to suck a cough tablet. For a moment you might have thought it was all about some mysterious illness that attacked Axel in Abu Dhabi. Indeed, in the song that sealed the show, Paradise City, when Slash's deadly riffs bounced through the park, and tens of thousands sang along with Axel as he frantically ran across the stage as if he hadn't just finished three hours of performance, you could recall why we all arrived. And why we will all probably come again, despite everything, even if they come in a decade.
- Guns N' Roses
- Axl Rose