ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 3, 1988
By Steve Newton
The politics of rockin’ can be tough on new bands just getting used to the tour circuit. Take for example Guns N’ Roses, who are on the road in support of their first album, and opening for Iron Maiden, who’ve toured the world for 10 years now. “It’s terrible,” complained Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash before Monday’s show. “Maiden is cool and everything, but they’ve got such a big stage show, and new soundmen and all, and sometimes there isn’t even time for us to get a soundcheck.”
From the sound of their performance, Slash and his bandmates didn’t get one last Monday (May 30) either. About the only things you could hear well were Slash’s lead guitar and a bit of W. Axl Rose’s lead vocals. Forget the rhythm section. And the band wasn’t too impressed with the crowd’s reaction to them either, threatening to pack up and go unless they got more feedback. That was a tacky move, but you can’t really blame them, since they deserved to be treated better than your average warm-up act. Their debut ’87 LP, Appetite for Destruction, has skyrocketed to the top-10 on Billboard, and sold over a million-and-a-half copies. It’s quite possible that next time they’re in town they’ll be the ones headlining.
As for Gun N’ Roses’ music, it’s a fast, gritty, and loose sound reminiscent of Aerosmith, with guitars aplenty and screeching vocals. So it wasn’t surprising that, backstage after their show, Slash was seen wearing a black leather jacket with Aerosmith’s logo emblazoned across the back. Between sips of J.D., Slash chatted amiably with Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson, who had to dart away when he heard his band’s intro music going over the P.A. “I gotta do a tune, mate,” he explained before running off.
When Maiden hit the stage the difference in sound was like night ‘n’ day. Although loud enough to give elderly folk nightmares, it was also very clean (the band is noted for sparing no expense when it comes to gear). The stage resembled the barren arctic landscape portrayed on the cover of the group’s latest album, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son–everything was painted white and frosty-blue, with icebergs stuck here and there.
Dickinson didn’t waste any time in lambasting the Coliseum staff for moving the stage-front barriers back three feet because they thought the crowd was “dangerous”. And when he noticed one particular security guy roughing up a kid, Dickinson jumped down, mike in hand, and grabbed him. “He wasn’t doing anything, you big ape,” shouted Bruce, adding some choice expletives, and the red-faced bouncer was hustled off, to be replaced by a more understanding member of the band’s road crew.
With the crowd-control under control, Dickinson got on with the business at hand, and he and his British mates delivered state-of-the-art metal via tunes like “Wasted Years” and “The Number of the Beast” (which Dickinson sang while running around with guitarist Dave Murray perched on his shoulders. If you think it sounds easy, try it sometime).
They put the frosting on a typically fine show full of pyrotechnics and effects with two encores that featured “Run to the Hills”, “Two Minutes to Midnight”, and “Running Free”.