Metal Monday-Archived Concert Review

Guns N’ Roses with special guest Skid Row

Saratoga Performing Arts Center

Saratoga Springs NY

June 10, 1991

It was a comfortable late spring evening when Guns N’ Roses brought their brand-new Use Your Illusion tour to upstate New York.  The double albums of the same name (1 And 2) were still three months from release, but you wouldn’t know it by the electrified crowd that filled the theater and swelled the lawn.  With Skid Row charged with opening the show, the audience braced itself for a night of drunken debauchery.

New Jersey’s Skid Row was releasing their new album, Slave to the Grind the very next day.  The band was firing on all cylinders that evening, opening with the frenetic title track, before following up with Piece of Me and Big Guns from their 1989 self-titled debut.  It was clear that the quintet understood the magnitude of the performance, that they were solely responsible for firing the crowd up enough to compensate for what was likely to be a lengthy delay, given GnR frontman Axl Roses’ penchant for showing up late to his own concerts.  A quick, but powerful run through new tracks Monkey Business and Get the Fuck Out, plus a cover of Tiny Bradshaw’s, Train Kept A-Rollin’, with GnR’s Slash making a cameo appearance, finished up the main set, before the Skids came back for an encore of classics, I Remember You and Youth Gone Wild.  For what it was worth, the band did their part to make this a memorable night.

Skid Row Setlist:

Slave to the Grind

Piece of Me

Big Guns

Riot Act

Monkey Business

Sweet Little Sister

Get the Fuck Out

Train Kept A-Rollin’

Encore:

I Remember You

Youth Gone Wild

As to be expected, the wait for the headliners was quite prolonged.  After about an hour, the venue started playing 1989’s Batman movie, starring Michael Keaton, on the big screen.  This was fine until more than 45 minutes of the movie went by, and fans started getting restless.  The booing reached a crescendo before, mercifully, the lights went down, and the jeers turned to cheers.

Guns N’ Roses opened with a pair of tracks from its debut smash, Appetite for Destruction, Nightrain and Mr. Brownstone.  All seemed to be forgiven even though it was about 11 PM before the group made its appearance.  The band sounded tight and appeared to be in shape, the benefits of seeing a band in the infancy of a long tour.

I have several qualms about the show, however.  As the new records had yet to be released, the audience did not know much of the new material, save for the already released, Civil War, creating a lull in the momentum gained with known songs, such as It’s So Easy, Welcome to the Jungle, My Michelle, Rocket Queen, and Sweet Child o’ Mine.  While the crowd was treated to hearing future classic, November Rain for the first time, and can brag about having the Get in the Ring chant recorded at its show, even the encores were littered with unrecognizable tracks.

Another issue was the never-ending solo sections of the show.  Matt Sorum’s drum solo.  Slash’s guitar solo and his Love Theme from the Godfather bit.  The long jams that segued from song to song.  It hindered the concert from sustaining any energy that the audience had mustered.  Say nothing about Axl Rose and his preaching raps in between songs.  They get old, unnecessary, and, again, kill the festivities.  And Axl was just getting warmed up.  He was a mere three weeks away from his infamous incident in St. Louis, and a little more than a year from inciting the Montreal riot.

I enjoy Guns N’ Roses’ albums, especially the timeless debut, one of those has a permanent place on my mental “flawless” list, along with the debut Van Halen record, Def Leppard’s High and Dry, and Metallica’s Master of Puppets.  I may even put Slave to the Grind in this illustrious company.  That said, this was the first time I saw GnR live, and the last time.  I found their show to have too many fits and starts to build any sort of force and considered Axl Rose a little too obnoxious to take for two and a half hours.  I hear that Axl has mellowed with the passing of decades and the band’s current show is a killer.  I’m glad to hear that.  However, I probably won’t see them again.

Guns N’ Roses Setlist:

Nightrain

Mr. Brownstone

Double Talkin’ Jive

Dust n’ Bones

Bad Obsession

It’s So Easy

Dead Horse

Civil War

Welcome to the Jungle

14 Years

Patience (with I Was Only Joking intro)

My Michelle

November Rain

Drum Solo

Slash Guitar Solo

Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather)

Rocket Queen

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (with Only Women Bleed intro)

Sweet Child o’ Mine (with Bad Time intro)

Encore 1:

Live and Let Die

Estranged

Encore 2:

Yesterdays

Paradise City

Metal Monday 11-29-2021

Welcome to a new weekly post that I will call Metal Mondays, where I will rank the albums of a certain artist in the metal and hard rock genre from worst to best.  As I am a list and ranking person, I am unable to have a simple discussion on what a band’s good albums are, as well as their not-so-good ones.  I must rank them in some sort of order, or I will not be able to participate!  This also makes for a fun debate, don’t you think?

NOTE:  I will rank full length STUDIO ALBUMS only.  There will be no live records, greatest hits, or EP’s here.

This week we are discussing the British sensations, Def Leppard.  Originally upstarts in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) movement in the late 1970’s, Def Leppard has transformed their sound throughout the decades, first hitting the mainstream has a hard-driving unit, before exploring with a variety of genres, including grunge and straight-up pop.  The band has experienced their share of hardships along the way, including the car accident in which drummer Rick Allen lost his arm, as well as the untimely death of guitarist Steve Clark.

#10: 

Slang-1996

Do you remember the grunge and alternative rock movement of the 1990’s?  I do.  I hated it back then.  It took away the feel-good, party rock and roll that I grew up on.  Today, I have grown in my musical taste and have accepted, and now even enjoy, some of the bands that thrived during this time.  However, it is not a good sound for Def Leppard.

Best Song:  Blood Runs Cold

Best Deep Cut:  Blood Runs Cold

#9: 

X-2002

Now, You’re Beautiful, Cry, and Scar are decent tracks, but still too much filler on this release.

Best Song:  You’re Beautiful

Best Deep Cut:  You’re Beautiful

#8: 

Euphoria-1999

This album marks a return towards the sound that most Def Leppard fans came to love, however, like X above, there is still too much filler on this record.  As I have lamented before, I would much rather listen to an album with 8-9 good tracks, than one with 13-14 songs just to fill a disc.  The hit, Promises, Demolition Man, and the wonderful, Paper Sun are the highlights here.

Best Song:  Paper Sun

Best Deep Cut:  Paper Sun

#7: 

Adrenalize-1992

This first album without Steve Clark has its moments, however, it was the first Def Leppard record that disappointed me overall.  While there is a collection of solid songs, such as Let’s Get Rocked, White Lightning, Stand Up (Kick Love into Motion), and Tear It Down, the album comes across as a little formulistic, with most of the material failing to stand up to previous releases.  Tonight has the potential to be a Def Leppard classic, however fizzles in the end.

Best Song:  White Lightning

Best Deep Cut:  White Lightning

#6: 

Songs From the Sparkle Lounge-2008

I must admit, I don’t believe I had ever listened to this record until I was preparing this column.  I had to scramble this weekend, as for some reason, this one slipped through the cracks.  I was pleasantly surprised once I did listen to it.  The album is full of catchy choruses with big hooks.  While impossible to compare to the brilliance of its earlier releases, the band delivered in a way few thought one at this stage in their career could.

Go, Nine Lives, C’mon C’mon, Tomorrow, and Gotta Let it Go are the highlights.

Best Song:  Tomorrow

Best Deep Cut:  Tomorrow

#5: 

Def Leppard-2015

I had heard Def Leppard’s self-titled release from 2015, although I needed to take the time to refamiliarize myself with it.  Much like with Songs from the Sparkle Lounge, this album is an overlooked surprise in the band’s catalogue.  Let’s Go, Dangerous, Man Enough, Forever Young, and Wings of an Angel are worthy of your time.

Best Song:  Let’s Go

Best Deep Cut:  Let’s Go

#4: 

On Through the Night-1980

You’re about to see where my allegiances lie regarding Def Leppard, seeing as the top four albums in this ranking are from the 80’s.  On Through the Night is the debut release and show a band who is raw and hungry to break out of obscurity.  While lacking the polish of future records, you begin to realize that Def Leppard was a band about to break out.

Rock Brigade, Hello America, and Wasted are criminally underrated DL classics in my book.

Best Song:  Wasted

Best Deep Cut:  Wasted

#3: 

Hysteria-1987

We go from the obscure to the ginormous opus with 1987’s Hysteria.  Released four years after the previous record, due, in most part, to the accident and amputation of Allen’s arm, the album brings to light the poppier side of the band, no doubt due to the electronic drum set-up Allen utilized.  The record spawned seven hit singles, and really took off when the third single, Pour Some Sugar on Me, hit the airwaves. 

Obviously, the hits are there, with Animal, Rocket, Armageddon It, Love Bites, and the title track all enjoying success on the charts, while the deep cuts are plentiful and fruitful, such as, Gods of War, Don’t Shoot Shotgun, and Excitable.

Best Song:  Hysteria

Best Deep Cut:  Excitable

#2: 

Pyromania-1983

Under the direction of hit maker Mutt Lange at the controls, the band catapulted into superstardom with this album.  There are plenty of hits, including, Photograph, Foolin,’ Rock of Ages, and the amazing, Too Late for Love.  Meanwhile, there is plenty more to knock your socks off with, Rock Rock (Till You Drop), Stagefright, Die Hard the Hunter, and Comin’ Under Fire.

Best Song:  Too Late for Love

Best Deep Cut:  Comin’ Under Fire

#1: 

High ‘n’ Dry-1981

One of my favorite albums of all time, High ‘n’ Dry features Def Leppard for the first time with Mutt Lange.  While only Bringing on the Heartbreak broke through as a major radio hit, the rest of the record is an absolute masterpiece.  One of the rare albums that has no bad songs, very similar to the debut Van Halen release.  I could name off the highlights, but I’ll save you some time and tell you to listen to the whole thing.

Best Song:  Lady Strange

Best Deep Cut:  Lady Strange 

Great Metal Albums of 1987: Dio- Dream Evil

After what many people thought was the flop of Dio’s third album, “Sacred Heart,” (I never thought it was), all eyes were on the band for their …

Great Metal Albums of 1987: Dio- Dream Evil

Great album. I do believe some sort of Dio/Rainbow ranking should be featured in an upcoming Metal Monday post. Stay tuned!

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