"Live Era '87'93" reviews

Guns N' Roses - Live Era '87 - '93


Say what you will (and I know you will say a lot) about Guns N' Roses, but the fact remains that they were the best rock'n'roll band of the late '80s. Hands down, bar none, no questions asked. And though recent music historians may try to write them into the same chapter with the scores of sh**y hair bands that also blew out of L.A. during the same time, it's just a simple fact that Guns N' Roses killed every other bunch of swaggering alcoholics with a bandana and a Les Paul. And though the plot might have gotten lost by the time the Use Your Illusions came out, this double-disc set provides ample evidence that, when Axl's studio ego got put aside and this band took the stage (with whichever drummer they happened to be using), they absolutely defined rock'n'roll power.

Tapping into the timeless history of full-bore groove and boogie-based rock fireworks, combined with a firm grasp of pop structures and sleazy bombast, the appeal of Guns N' Roses was irresistible to a country that, at the time, was just a little bit tired of being spoon-fed kiddie pop and crossover hip-hop (hey, sorta like today, huh?). However, rather than simply being at the right place at the right time, Guns N' Roses also had the goods -- as evidenced by the fact that these 22 songs sound as good today as they did a decade ago. And they delivered over and over again, night after night. Whether it was opening for the utterly pathetic Theater of Pain-era Motley Crue or very nearly blowing their co-headliners Metallica off the stage, GNR just kept pounding away at their piss and vinegar rock'n'roll sermon. And, whether it's the relentless groove of "My Michelle," the thundering thrash of "Pretty Tied Up," or the crowd-pleasing splendor of "Welcome to the Jungle" and "Paradise City," Guns N' Roses proved that it's the stage -- not the studio -- that gives life to rock'n'roll. And this document, recorded "across the universe" during the time when Guns N' Roses could still reasonably be called a "band," shows that whether they were dishing up the hits or the misses (songs like "You're Crazy" and "Rocket Queen" simply, for lack of a better term, kick ass), they did it all with an undeniable fever.

Whether or not Guns N' Roses will ever be as big as they once were is irrelevant (although their contribution to End of Days certainly bodes well for Axl's future in rock'n'roll), because their place in the rock pantheon is sealed. And, with this appropriate farewell to the "old days" of GNR, one generation of kids will be wishing they wouldn't have sold their t-shirts for flannel and another, newer generation will be yearning for the days when rock still rocked.

Jason Ferguson

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Copyright © 1999 Jarmo Luukkonen