On September 13th, 1992 I found myself in a scalper office in Toronto. I am loath to utilize scalpers and do so sparingly, but to my memory this is the only time I’ve actually been in one of their actual offices. I remember it being small and nondescript, with a desk, wall-to-wall wood panelling, and a full complement of Guns N’ Roses tickets.
The Use Your Illusion pair of albums had recently dropped, and the resulting tour had been delayed due to a pyro accident featuring Metallica’s James Hetfield and the riot that followed in Montreal (hence the discrepancy between the ticketed date and the actual show date). I had been into GnR since the first album and had toughed it out through the Lies EP and for me some of this Use Your Illusion stuff was pure gold.
I don’t know why I didn’t already have a ticket to the show but I didn’t, and so there I was staring down a stack of tickets in a pair of greasy hands. I hummed and hawed and splurged on a 7th row floor ticket for the fairly outrageous price of $100 (at least there were no service fees), and off to the show went I.
Faith No More opened the show and made little impact on me. Metallica was fine, but with James Hetfield all bandaged up and unable to play guitar the set lost some of it’s punch. They had a guy sitting in playing his guitar parts, but it wasn’t the same.
GnR, on the other hand, did make a big impression on me. By the time they were done with the Toronto crowd I was done with the band, any semblance of respect I had for their music having been completely obliterated by their sad, whiny presentation at the Ex. Duff phoned in such a lacklustre performance I’ve been calling him “the worst bass player in rock and roll” ever since, Krist Novoselic notwithstanding.
And speaking of Nirvana, midshow someone threw a Nirvana baseball cap onstage and Axl stopped the band and took his time badmouthing the grunge masters. This was the tour where GnR had offered the brand-new Nirvana the opening slot, and in a soon-to-become-characteristic show of self-respect Nirvana had turned them down flat. Clearly Mr. Rose was a wee bit bitter.
Axl went to the ridiculous trouble of getting four roadies onstage to hold lighters to the hat until it finally caught fire, if only a little bit. “Nirvana thinks they’re the only heroin addicts in rock and roll,” he said, a statement that has baffled me ever since.
I’ll admit the band was somewhat on fire too (if only a little bit), as there’s really no denying the guitar monstrosity that is Slash; the guy could warm up death. But after Axl made a full three costume changes in one song (during the otherwise superb Civil War) I finally saw through the crap and envisioned GnR for what they really are: another flash of rock and roll legend that got sucked into the wrong side fame and ego and all the posturing and infantilism that goes with it. Oasis’d.