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The Navigator

After spinning wheels, Axl gets back on road

By RICK GERSHMAN
Published October 20, 2006


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Check out the St. Pete Times Forum on Wednesday and you'll get to experience something few people in the United States have in more than a dozen years: Guns N' Roses playing a full show.

Well, you probably will.

See, it's never a good idea to presume much as it relates to Guns N' Roses, especially since frontman Axl Rose assumed control of the hard-rock group and went totally nuts. Not necessarily in that order.

But if everything goes as planned, Rose's resurrected rock band will hit the stage sometime Wednesday night (punctuality: not its strong suit) and crank out the many killer tunes from its brief but phenomenal early-'90s run.

Expect classic cuts from one of the best rock debuts of all time, Appetite for Destruction, not to mention the overambitious but undeniably awesome albums Use Your Illusion I and II. Rock to Welcome to the Jungle, jam to Paradise City and sway to November Rain.

Here's the curve ball: The GNR show likely also will include some new tracks from Chinese Democracy, the long-awaited new album that is scheduled to hit stores Nov. 21. How long-awaited? The band's last full-length releases were the Illusion discs, a full 15 years ago.

Then again, Democracy also was supposed to be released in March. Before that, it was expected in 2005. And 2004. And 2001, and 1998 ... In fact, Rose has been promising a disc with that title for almost a decade, spending millions of dollars, recording and discarding dozens of tracks.

What will this tour be like? Tough to tell. Reviews of scattered shows from earlier this year were surprisingly positive, if not exactly celebratory. At 44, Rose's voice reportedly remains in good shape, which is one reason fans are understandably perturbed he deprived them of it for so long.

And the biggest question is whether it's worth it to see a GNR that retains only one member from its original lineup: Rose. Without founding guitarists Slash and Izzy Stradlin, this crew kinda seems like a solid tribute band that just happens to feature its antecedent's lead singer.

We'll know more soon. The tour is scheduled to kick off tonight in Jacksonville. Tampa's the fourth stop, which is a good sign.

That means the odds are we'll get to enjoy an actual GNR show before Rose breaks up the band again. Or decides to go on a Tibetan retreat. Or gets arrested for biting off the head of a kitten.

Most likely, by the time the tour reaches Milwaukee, we can expect all three.

Rick Gershman can be reached at rgershman@sptimes.com or 226-3431. His Times blog, the Ill Literate, is at www.sptimes.com/blogs/tampaarts.

[Last modified October 19, 2006, 08:06:02]


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