It took 15 years for Guns N’ Roses to release their latest studio album, “Chinese Democracy,” and on Saturday, November 29 Wasted Space threw a belated party to celebrate the much-delayed record.
The album was released on Nov. 23, but, in keeping with the postponements that have marked the album’s creation, the corresponding party at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino didn’t happen until six days later. Here’s the story, a few days after the fact.
Having been promised Chinese Democracy for over a decade, GNR fans have become used to waiting.
Patient and loyal fans were rewarded for their fortitude on Saturday by GNR’s keyboardist, Dizzy Reed, who made the trip from L.A. to attend the party.
Reed, whose real name is Darren Arthur Reed, has been in GNR since 1990. He has endured Axyl Rose’s ego trips and the band’s numerous internal squabbles to outstay Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Gilby Clarke and Duff McKagan.
Of the current band members, only Rose himself has been in the band longer. Drummer Frank Ferrer and lead guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal joined just two years ago, while Richard Fortus came on board in 2002 and both Tommy Stinson and Chris Pitman started touring with the group 10 years back.
While none of Reed’s fellow GNR band mates, past or present, accompanied him on Saturday, the three other members of his side project, the Starfuckers, joined him at Wasted Space.
The group started the night off by toasting Reed’s other band’s latest effort in the VIP area and, after a few rounds and shots of Jägermeister, the quartet took to the stage just after 12:30 a.m.
Once the 45-year-old rocker took his place behind his Roland XV-83, he didn’t leave for two hours.
The band worked through a handful of GNR classics, including “Sweet Child of Mine” and “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” and a variety of hits from other rock n’ roll greats such as the Rolling Stones and Iggy Pop.
While the performance drew a large, mixed crowd early on, both attention and numbers faded as the set wore on.
By the time Reed and his fellow Fuckers wrapped things up, only a few dozen remained standing in front of the small stage. There was no mosh pit, no crowd surfing. Not even the smell of weed in the air. It was hardly what you’d expect of a GNR show, perhaps because while it may have been a GNR album release party, it was a Starfuckers show.
Reed has been keeping busy with the group since GNR’s tour of Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and Japan wrapped in July.
If Saturday’s show was any indication, the keyboardist loves to perform and likes the small venues just as much as big arena shows – if not more.
Between songs the heavily tattooed keyboardist did shots with fans and spoke with members of the audience. He even called me out after spotting my reporters’ notepad and asked if I was going to write a story about the show.
When I confirmed his suspicions, he laughed.
“You serious? Really?”
Despite the sold-out arena shows, world tours and rock star egos he has encountered over the past 18 years, Reed is still modest about his celebrity.
He joked about it as he first stepped onstage and introduced himself.
“Everyone keeps asking, ‘Who’s Dizzy? Who’s Dizzy?’ Well, I’m Dizzy,” he said.
Reed’s matter-of-fact, it’s-no-big-deal attitude was further demonstrated when, after the show, he admitted that the reason the band didn’t play “Paradise City” amidst repeated pleas from the crowd was because his band mates simply didn’t know how to play it.
Once the group finally left the stage the house DJs resumed playing mash-ups of the kind of pop rock that tends to make hard rockers cringe. After 120 minutes of GNR and the Stones, Fall Out Boy proved to be the musical equivalent of the so-called “ugly lights.”
The small crowd that remained quickly cleared, and the band retreated to the VIP area to unwind for 10 minutes or so then returned to the stage to sign the back wall and tear down their gear. Staying true to their no-nonsense philosophy, no army of roadies showed up to do the heavy lifting.
Reed said he wasn’t allowed to talk specifics regarding GNR’s new album, and while he may love to play, the rocker doesn’t seem to like talking to the press.
Once the post-show clean up was complete, the Starfuckers left. Out the front door, with no security, ceremony or fuss.
While the low-key approach may seem to indicate Reed’s star has faded in the 15 years since GNR’s last studio album, a tall blonde in a short skirt was still there at 3:30 a.m. to show him to his suite. Even without the Rose-sized ego or the media flirtations, Reed is still a bonafide rocker.