Guns N’ Roses Coming to Philly

But will Axl and friends actually play this time?

I remember exactly where I was on December 6, 2002. I was standing on the floor of the First Union Center (now known as the Wells Fargo Center, of course), dodging flying beer cups and hurled folding chairs as the sold-out crowd there to see Axl Rose’s band broke out into a riot. The opener, DJ Mixmaster Mike of the Beastie Boys, had finished his set shortly after 9 p.m., and around 11 p.m., after nearly two hours of an empty stage and an increasing level of tension among the drunk fans, someone made the official announcement: Guns N’ Roses wasn’t going to play. According to Tom Moon’s report in the Inquirer, five people went to the hospital in the ensuing chaos.

It was the end of the end for the band, which hadn’t produced any decent music in over a decade (and that’s only if you count the Use Your Illusions as decent, which many do not). This Guns N’ Roses was a far cry from the awesome 1991 version—the year that Axl Rose famously stopped “Welcome to the Jungle” to confront a fan at the Spectrum, as seen here. Ah, Philly. Gotta love it.

The 2002 tour was supposed to be in support of Guns N’ Roses’ sixth studio album, Chinese Democracy. The only problem was that Chinese Democracy wasn’t done. Well, that, and Rose’s behavior had become increasingly erratic and unpredictable, leading to guitarist Slash’s departure a few years prior. After the Philadelphia debacle, the promoter canceled the entire tour, and WMMR DJ Pierre Robert issued a moratorium on their music.

Since then, Guns N’ Roses has gone through a litany of personnel changes, with a total of 22 members over its troubled lifetime. Chinese Democracy finally came out in 2008 to mixed reviews, though a surprising number of good ones. And Rose, who is either a misunderstood genius or a washed-up lunatic, is still at the helm. The only question is: What exactly is he helming? Find out on November 26th as he brings some version of his former hard rock deity to the Susquehanna Bank Center. Tickets ($62-$327) go on sale this Saturday.