TVD Live: Guns N’ Roses at The Joint, 11/24

It’s the last night of the Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Democracy residency at The Joint in Las Vegas. Axl Rose and company are notorious for coming on late, but tonight they are right on time. I was lucky enough to catch the final night of the twelve-show residency that transformed Sin City into Paradise City.

GnR don’t play a ton of shows in the States anymore, especially in a venue this intimate (4,000 seats). This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and for all the naysayers who criticize the band, I say you got it all wrong.

Guns N’ Roses did not disappoint and sounded better than ever. Opening up with “Chinese Democracy,” straight into “Welcome to the Jungle” and “It’s So Easy,” Axl led his supergroup of hand-picked rock ‘n’ roll juggernauts through a three-and-a-half hour set until almost four in the morning. To say that this last night was epic is an understatement. Axl’s voice is holding up just fine, and he had something to prove as he ran around the stage commanding the crowd and turned the energy in the room up to eleven.

The set consisted of a brilliant mix of classics from Appetite, Use Your Illusion I and II, Lies, and of course, Chinese Democracy. Highlights for me were a stunning version of “Estranged,” a blistering raw version of “Mr. Brownstone,” and one of my favorite tracks from the band, the terribly underrated “Better.” There was a bit of a reunion of sorts that evening as well. Original Guns member Izzy Stradlin joined Axl Rose and the rest of the band on stage for the song “14 Years” on which Stradlin sings lead.

Lead guitarist DJ Ashba joined the band in 2009 with big shoes to fill. Out of the three guitar players, I would say he plays the most like Slash. He also plays the songs as they should be and does a fantastic job at doing so. Funny enough, I saw him two or three times running around Vegas. I said hi to him once very quickly—seems like a pretty nice guy. I also ran into guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal before the show. He is sort of the guitar virtuoso of the band, if you will.

The unsung hero and guy-behind-the-guy Richard Fortus is probably the guitarist with the most style, though. He can play a mean lead, but more or less chooses to lay down the rhythm and adds the classic GnR sound with his gigantic guitar tone. Just as Izzy was the backbone of Appetite for Destruction, Fortus effortlessly plays a similar role, but comes out for a solo in the middle of the set that proves he can do it all.

Oh, and let me tell you how incredibly stellar “November Rain” was. In classic Axl showmanship style, a Vegas-themed GnR grand piano dropped down from the ceiling with Axl gracefully treating the crowd to arguably the band’s finest moment on record. Absolutely brilliant.

Axl at the pinnacle of “It’s So Easy”

Bottom line: This show was fucking awesome. I would have gone all twelve nights if I could have. This is a top-notch group of super-talented musicians backing one of the greatest frontmen of all time, playing some of the greatest hard rock of all time, and it should be celebrated by all GnR fans everywhere.

Check out all the photos in hi-res.

Were you at any of the shows? What did you think? What was your favorite part? Please join the conversation in the comments below.

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