Axl Rose and Duff McKagan Reunited at the Golden Gods Awards Last Night. It Was Meh

Slayer reign.
Slayer reign.
Timothy Norris

Golden Gods Awards
Club Nokia
April 23, 2014

It may not be trendy, but metal remains a vital genre with perhaps the most fervent fan base in music. Last night the annual Revolver magazine Golden Gods Awards opened with a surprise set by Slayer, after an introduction by Marilyn Manson. The band, who lost its ailing guitarist Jeff Henneman last year, ravaged live, playing faves such as "South of Heaven" and "War Ensemble," plus a brand new track called "Implode" that melded nicely with caustic feel of the classics.  

But almost everyone who performed afterward seemed meek in Slayer's shadow - including the much-touted Guns n' Roses reunion of Axl Rose and Duff McKagan. 

Though structured as an awards show, Golden Gods was pretty much a concert. Each band did three songs or more in between awards presentations. Presenters included Richie Sambora, Dee Snider, Andrew Dice Clay, Anthrax's Scott Ian, and NCIS's Pauley Perrette.

Alice Cooper presented Joan Jett with the first female Golden God award. One of the few women of rock who's managed to garner and maintain credibility with heavy music and pop fans (even in middle age), it was nice to see her acknowledged. Jett's set was as sultry and badass as ever, sort of  a condensed version of her House of Blues show last summer, with some surprises: Pretty Reckless' Taylor Momsen and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons. 

Zakk Wylde gets emo.
Zakk Wylde gets emo.
Timothy Norris

There were plenty of surprise guests. In addition to Slayer and Gibbons, Zakk Wylde put away the guitar and offered a heartfelt piano tribute to some of rock's  deceased. The band Suicide Silence featured a guest pop-in by Sepultura's Max Calavera on his band's "Roots Bloody Roots." It was bloody, bombastic and maybe the best turn by a newer group that evening.

Joan Jett joined by Billy Gibbons and Taylor Momsen.
Joan Jett joined by Billy Gibbons and Taylor Momsen.
Timothy Norris

Perhaps A Day To Remember and Pretty Reckless should have taken the guest star route too. ADTR felt very dated, a throw-back/hold-over from the "screamo" and "nu-metal" craze, only whimpier. Periodic growls between verses does not a thrasher make. Pretty Reckless, featuring all grown up Gossip Girl actress Momsen were a lot better, but lacked the grit to make sense at Golden Gods. Maybe in a few years they'll have it. 

Below: Axl Rose and Duff McKagan

Axl Rose and Duff McKagan- Appetite for reunion.
Axl Rose and Duff McKagan- Appetite for reunion.
Timothy Norris

Though it's nice to see that Axl Rose still has it vocally - at least range-wise - he also still gives off crazy man vibes. That's ok, it adds to his mystique, even if his cray ways mean a full-blown Guns n' Roses reunion (and by that we mean a reconciliation with Slash) will never happen. Last night, it came close with McKagan, though. After accepting the Ronnie James Dio Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Nicolas Cage, Rose and his new G n' R were joined by founding bassist McKagan on stage for songs off Appetite For Destruction, Use Your Illusion and even Chinese Democracy.  

While it's hard to take Rose's new G n' R seriously (especially with Axl all covered up in shades, hats, and multiple layers), Duff's presence added a credibility and chemistry that's been missing from this line-up. The opening track, "It's So Easy" was the highlight last night, with "Welcome To The Jungle" a close second. The rest felt self-indulgent, after a very long night of music, speeches and commercial breaks. Two guitarists, two bass players, two keyboardists, and three hat changes later, "Knockin On Heaven's Door" and "Paradise City" left us with an appetite... to go home.

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