Axl Rose fell down in Mexico City, and it's all your fault


Image Credit: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

As is wont to happen whenever he steps out the door, Axl Rose’s current tour with Guns N’ Roses hasn’t been the smoothest journey.

There have been multiple complaints of Rose’s vocal weakness, an over-reliance on tracks from the sub-par Chinese Democracy, pacing issues (any show that pauses so that a dude named Bumblefoot can noodle on the theme from The Pink Panther is bound to seem sluggish), and side effects that may or may not include blindness. And on Wednesday night in Mexico City, Rose fell down and went boom in the middle of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”

The good news is that Axl didn’t channel his 1992 self and storm off the stage in a huff and shut down the entire concert. But the bad news is that this happened at all. Not because it’s a bummer whenever an artist takes a tumble (even Beyoncé loses her footing sometimes), but because Axl is still doing this, and that people show up.

People always talk about how sad these shows look, either because the star in question is not as glorious as they once were, or  are just going through the motions for the sake of a payday. But in reality, we only have ourselves to blame. Those of us (and I include myself in this group for reasons we’ll get to in a minute) who buy tickets to these shows and then feel disappointed when things go awry? We only have ourselves and our hideous attachment to nostalgia to blame.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I went to go check out the Lemonheads. Actually, it was Evan Dando and a pair of dudes (not unlike the Guns N’ Roses situation). We had been looking forward to the show for weeks, as the ticket promised that the band would play through their classic 1992 album It’s a Shame About Ray in its entirety. That album is one of the finest collections of druggy, jangly mope-rock tunes ever committed to tape, and it holds a particularly strong meaning for my wife and I. (“Rudderless” is especially great.)

Though we were both feeling a little under the weather, we made our way out to the venue for the show. After waiting more than an hour after the band was supposed to hit the stage, Dando finally came out and announced that he was too sick to perform, because his voice was shot. He had actually canceled a show in Atlanta a few nights before, so he had clearly been worn down.

The crowd resisted his insistence that he couldn’t perform, so to prove it he played a song by himself. It was weak, but people cheered, so he did a few more solo tunes. Then he attempted to leave, but a number of people on stage (including Butthole Surfers frontman Gibby Haynes) encouraged him to stay and keep playing.

That cycle kept happening. Dando would play a few songs — the rest of the band eventually joined him — then would attempt to leave before being drawn back. All of the performances seemed perfunctory and rushed. Most people didn’t stick around, and the ones who did were pretty angry.

But really, we have nobody to blame but ourselves. Even if he was healthy, Dando wouldn’t be the same guy he was in 1992, just as the Axl of 2011 has almost nothing to do with the one from 1987. Why would we, as the ticket-buying public, expect any of these guys to be able to recapture lightning in a bottle? Logically speaking, if they were still as good as they were at their peak, wouldn’t they still be that good? And yet neither Dando nor Rose have made any significant contribution to music in the 21st century.

I’m hardly anti-nostalgia. Heck, I’ve spent the better part of the fall thinking about and revisiting albums that came out 20 years ago. But the whole point of nostalgia is that it lets you hang onto a fleeting feeling that exists in your memory.

Don’t let simulations of the things you love ruin them, even if they are simulated by the original creators. Let the things you love in the past exist in the past, and spend your concert ticket money on up-and-coming acts who will help you create new thrills and memories. Unless it’s Prince. Then go nuts.

Have you had an unfortunate experience with a nostalgia act? Or have any of them delivered for you in surprising ways? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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Comments (58 total) Add your comment
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  • Amanda

    I saw the newer version of Guns N Roses back in 2002 at the Palace of Auburn Hills. I don’t love all the Chinese Democracy songs, but he didn’t play that many of them (this was before the album came out). The show was actually great. Full house, the band was good, started relatively on time (30 mins late, practically on time by Axl standards) and it seemed like everyone had fun.

  • Templar

    I love the fact that all of the rock critics fell all over each other praising Axl and G&R 20 plus years ago, but never took Bon Jovi seriously. Who’s faces are red now. BON JOVI FOREVER!

    • lovebug8

      Right on Templar! I have been seeing Bon Jovi live sine the 80’s. They never disappoint. The best thing is that it’s not a nostalgia act. They consistently put out new music that fans love.

    • clinton howard

      not to knock bon jovi but come on dude really gnr would kick them jersey boys outa town even on a bad day chump[

      • Stormy

        Sure that’s why GNR is on top and Bon Jovi has faded into obscurity. LOL. GNR may have an Appetite for Destruction, but the ticket buying public has an appetite for Bon Jovi. Axl never grew up. Jon Bon did.

      • Stormy

        And BTW Slippery When Wet and Appetite for Destruction have each sold 28 million copies, so you figure it out.

    • Alexander Hamilton

      Bon Jovi? Isn’t that a country band?

      • Um

        Alexander Hamilton? Isn’t that a dead guy with nothing to say?

      • DDubSolider

        GET BACK IN YOUR GRAVE! No one liked u in the 1800s!

    • NYJ

      Uhh…still Bon Jovi. That’s why Jonny keeps whining about it. Besides that fact, if Guns never put out an album after AfD, they’d STILL be more and influential and relevant than BJ ever was…

      Get in the ring,…

    • Pete

      People take Bon Jovi seriously? do they?. I will never criticise anybody’s taste in music as its special to each person in their own special way. However, Bon Jovi are the clowns of rock n’ roll (rock n’roll in a very loose term) and rightly or wrongly will never be anything but a joke in the world of rnr.

      • Carole Von Allten

        Can’t believe you’d say Bon Jovi are the clowns of R & R. They have so many memorable and great songs. Jon has maintained his great looks, great singing and is happily married. Their concerts are incredible. They have been touring steadily since the 80’s. I am also a fan of GNR and glad Axl has made a comeback. Very troubled person, but he has persevered and overcome his personal demons.

  • Amanda

    Although I will also say that I saw Everclear at a county fair type venue and, while the band was good (I don’t think they were the original members), Art Alexakis sounded like he was struggling. Still, it was cool to see Santa Monica live.

  • colin

    I’ve been a big GNR fan since 90 or so. Whatever Axl’s doing now certainly isn’t Guns N Roses. I would encourage any fans to check out Appetite for Destruction, a really fantastic cover band, if they’re ever in your area. I caught one of their shows a few years ago and had an absolute blast.

    • Minutiae

      Or everyone could just pay attention to what Slash is doing with the amazing Myles Kennedy on vocals.

  • Dave

    I saw Iron Maiden last year in Chicago. They were incredible. Bruce Dickonson still sounds just as good as he did in the 80s. The difference i think is that the bad has its original members and has stayed active with new albums and new tours. They were incredible.

  • Jay

    Well, I was pleasantly surprised by Motley Crue’s concert this past summer. It had very high production values, an all 4 of their guys were at the top of their game. Great vocals, great sound, great visuals and the Tommy Rollercoaster!

  • David

    I saw new gnr at roseland in NYC a few years back it was…..ok. But I’ve seen the lemonheads twice in the last three years and they are always awesome. Dando sounds great and the songs still rule. If he said he was sick perhaps…just perhaps, he was. Shouldn’t this excuse the lackluster show somewhat? Also, the lemonhea

  • David

    Also the lemonheads self titled record from a few years back was really good. Much better then most stuff out there

  • Stormy

    It’s nearly impossible to underestimate Axl Rosa.

    • Stormy

      Sorry, “Rose”

  • N

    On youtube they have recent performance from Rio of GNR’s recent tour. I thought Axel’s voice still sounded great (he could still hit the incredibly high notes). That performance included mainly old GNR hits, and I like the new songs they played. Its definitely not GNR circa 1992 but Axel still can write awesone songs and the musicans on this tour awesome. I am seeing them KC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • AG

    Did the writer even bother to do any research before writing this? I mean, honestly, “multiple complaints” of vocal weakness? Axl had one off night in Rio and has sounded great ever since going by the YouTube videos I’ve seen. I haven’t read ANY complaints of an “over-reliance” on CD tracks. If you wanna hate on that record, that’s your opinion. I think it’s better than either UYI record. But, at least get your facts straight before writing your articles. Poor excuse for “journalism”.

  • peep

    Poor excuse for journalism is right. Just another hater of Axl who bothers to write an article. I’ve seen the new band and they put on a great rock show. Just because a guy falls, isn’t who he was 20 years ago, has an off night in RIO, or plays 6/20 songs from Chinese doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a smooth journey. Thats your problem dude, your expecting these bands to look young, have the same members, and weigh the same as they did 20 years ago. Really They can still put on a good show….better than most other rock acts out there today.

    • Stormy

      Oh you mean they expect to see Bon Jovi. Still looking and sounding great, having only one personnel change [Huey McDonald in place of Alec Such and he’s been there 15+ years], and still having a top grossing tour every time they release an album. Yeah, I could understand that.

  • painkiller

    Guys Guns N Roses was THE BEST ROCK OF ALL TIME , But Axl rose killed the band . He should have gone with the name WAR (william axl rose) on this current jokers band . Axl is so FAT and he has done botox on his face . The guy cannot move on stage and he dance like a fat old nad man . his moves like those days are gone . Look at steven tyler or mick jagger they can still move and jump around like younger years . Slash , Duff , Izzy and Adler all still looks Good without a tummy (stomach) . Look at Axl rose on youtube from 2006 onwards , he is so fat and cannot move on stage . dance like a gay . (where is his moves ) why are you guys paying to see him like this man . you Guys who say his current concert are great are guys who have not seen guns n roses in their peak . you guys are deceived by the lights and stage atmosphere . Dj Ashba , ron and the other guys only light the show up (but they are not GNR) . Axl HIT THE GYM , REMOVE YOUR BOTOX ON YOUR FACE AND HAVE THE SNAKE MOVES AGAIN .


    • Tom

      in 2006 he was actually in pretty good shape, in 2010/11 he’s gained a ton of weight. i wasn’t old enough to attend a show rom the original band…but from what i can tell from watching live vids the new guys play the songs just as well…sometimes much better. it may not be the old band but they still put on a great show.

    • kev

      i have seen old concerts and new and Axl still rocks. He still sounds great and the band play really well. HE is not that fat and he is nearly 50 lol i would prefer him to look well fed than look like a skin and bones junky with aids.

  • John

    Kyle, you just don’t get it man. Guns N’ Roses in 2011 have nothing to do with nostalgia at all. They are not trying to be the band from 1987. Axl is on to a whole new thing, which in my opinion is lightyears ahead of the generic radio rock and embarrassing collaborations Slash takes part in these days. I’m going to 5 shows when this tour hits the states, and all I want to hear is “Chinese Democracy” songs with a few of the old hits sprinkled in. GN’R fans today who really follow the band have no interest in nostalgia, we are into the band as they are now and have ZERO desire to see the old players get back together. GN’R has moved past the whole “do coccaine and party” nonsense, that was never what Axl was really about in the first place, I always thought that was a bum rap. “Use Your Illusion” pretty much buried that misconception about the band, and “Chinese Democracy” poured about 2 more tons of dirt on top of it. If you want hang out with a bunch of middle age meatheads who “just wanna rock to the old songs at the rock show!!” go see the Foo Fighters.

    • kev

      could not agree more. And the youtube vid from rir with axl singing estranged for the first time in 18 years is certainly no simulation it sounded as good if not better than the last time it was played live.

  • Na guns!

    Hello! I´m from argentina, I went to two concerts here of GN´R and was amazing!!! Do you see then live? Please, do not compare something that took place 20years ago, it isn´t racional! Again, it was amazing, he is the best front man ever!

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