If we don’t count the inadvertent genius of Appetite for Destruction, the very best thing about a younger Guns N’ Roses was their heartfelt devotion to rock. As it turns out, the very worst thing about an older Guns N’ Roses – insofar as an empty and contracted group of lookalikes merits this name – is their heartfelt devotion to rock. Perhaps the only bandana-wearer in the world that has not seen the movie Spinal Tap, Axl Rose continues in perverse humour toward a goal invisible to any of us with any sense of irony. At all.
Oh. My giddy aunt. How do I even begin to convey the bloated conceit of a man unable, apparently, to see that his relevance has dwindled even as his famous snake-hips have blown out to eclipse the silhouette of his beautiful, beautiful youth? Not even Spanx can contain this folly.
I begin by telling you, perhaps, that G N’ R are unafraid of rock's greatest white elephant, Chinese Democracy. This 2008 madness remains the most expensive album in the history of recorded music and also one of its most unremarkable. There are, however, a handful of middle-aged white people in Melbourne who seem to remember its forgettable riffs and they holler along with slightly more passion than school-age children singing the national anthem. Which is to say, there is a sad reluctance from the audience to truly participate. No one can even be bothered throwing-the-goat properly.
This band is not so much a band but conceptual scaffolding assembled to support the girth and wayward ambition of the strange and inscrutable Axl Rose. Certainly, they seem as unable to play in time and with conviction as they do to resemble the original Gunners they purportedly represent. An en exception here is the Fake Izzy Stradlin who looks a shitload more convincing than the Fake Slash. He is lanky and brooding and would almost look rock-cool if it didn’t appear that his blouse had been purchased from a remnants sale for ladies at Country Road.
And. I mean. Sack the drummer.
The desperately sad two-dollar shop ambience of the entire mistake is sensed in the dreadful videos which look like an Adobe Flash tutorial, in sloppy playing and, most notably, in the person of a topless lady who arrives on stage to perform some bizarre and poorly executed trick flicking popcorn from what are – it must be said – some fairly average tits.
The saddest thing of all, perhaps, is that Axl can still truly wail. At this point, however, he is wailing into a self-reflexive void filled with all the pain an unexamined mid-life can provide.
I went home and cried.