Guns N' Roses fails to show in Philadelphia
Fans at the First Union Center yelled, cursed, and overturned equipment. Paramedics took five people to hospitals.
- Tom Moon, Philadelphia Inquirer
For the second time since they began their North American tour a month ago, Guns N' Roses angered fans by failing to show for their performance - this time it was in South Philly.
Once it became clear last night that the rock band was not going to show for its scheduled gig at the First Union Center, fans began yelling and cursing, throwing bottles, chairs and ceiling tiles, and overturning trash cans and equipment. Several fights broke out, and paramedics reported transporting five people to area hospitals.
"Thankfully, I was in a club box," said Christina Wolf, 26, of Center City. "It was shielded... so I wasn't getting hit by any of the flying objects."
The sold-out concert, which was supposed to be a comeback for the reconstituted 1980s rock band, began at its scheduled time with a performances by local rock band Cky and DJ Mixmaster Mike. But after the DJ's unusually long set ended about 9:30, the stage went dark.
"By 11, there was nothing. No one had taken the stage," Wolf said. "It became obvious to the crowd that they weren't going to come on stage.
"Then there was a public announcement made that the band wasn't going to come on, and a reminder that it wasn't the First Union Center's staff's fault," Wolf said.
The announcement referred to "health issues" but did not elaborate. That elicited a chant from some in the audience of "Axl sucks!" - a reference to the notoriously erratic Guns N' Roses front man who failed to show at the tour's opening concert in Vancouver on Nov. 7.
"People had been booing," Wolf said, "but once the announcement happened, people actually started ripping the seats off the chairs and throwing beers."
Police reported no arrests, and fire officials were standing by for what they called a "minor civil disturbance."
A spokesman for the First Union Center said police and event staff "had no problem clearing the building. Everyone cleared the building really quickly."
Some of the fans, however, took out their frustrations in the parking lot. One concertgoer reported that someone had thrown a trash can through the windshield of his 1998 Toyota Camry, which had been in the H Lot.
Neither the promoter of the concert, Clear Channel Entertainment, nor the band explained what had happened.
One month ago in Vancouver, fans turned into an angry mob, throwing rocks and smashing windows when the band failed to show up for a show at the General Motors Place arena. Police had to use pepper spray to disperse the crowd.
That performance was canceled at the last minute after Rose failed to show because, a band spokesman said, bad weather in Los Angeles had held up his flight. The band is based in Los Angeles.
Shot Down Again
Guns N' Roses Cancels Sunday Show
- Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA - December 8, 2002 — Guns N' Roses canceled Sunday's concert in Philadelphia, hours after angry fans tossed chairs and debris when they learned the band wouldn't take the stage at the First Union Center on Friday.
A promoter for the hard-rock band told arena officials Friday night that an unidentified band member was ill, according to Ike Richman, a spokesman for Comcast-Spectacor.
"People were throwing beer ... they were tearing the seats apart and throwing them," said Ryan Knowles, 22, a student at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., who watched from his balcony seat.
No serious injuries were reported, although a few people were taken to a hospital with minor problems, Richman said. Police said no arrests were made.
Angry fans who paid $37 to $67 waited for more than an hour after two extended warm-up acts before learning around 11 p.m. that Guns N' Roses wouldn't play.
"We're kind of mad, but it's not like it was the most important night of my life," said Knowles, who bought his ticket online for $55 and traveled to Philadelphia for the show with friends.
Messages left by The Associated Press Saturday morning with the band's promoter, Clear Channel Entertainment, its management agency, Creative Artists Agency, and its label, Interscope Geffen A&M Records, were not immediately returned.
The band is scheduled to play in Washington, D.C.; Greenville, S.C.; and Tampa and West Palm Beach, Fla., this week, according to the label's Web site.
The Philadelphia shows won't be rescheduled. Refunds will be available at the place of purchase, Richman said. Friday's show was a sell-out, with about 14,000 fans packing the center, but tickets remained for Sunday's show across the street at the First Union Spectrum.
The First Union Center was back in business on Saturday afternoon, when the Philadelphia Flyers hosted the St. Louis Blues, Richman said.
Guns N' Roses, reformulated since its last tour in 1993, missed the first show of its "Chinese Democracy" tour on Nov. 7 in Vancouver, apparently after lead singer Axl Rose had problems with a flight from Los Angeles. Police used pepper spray to disperse thousands of irate fans who rampaged outside afterward.
Guns N' Roses Cancel Philly Concert, Fans Riot
Axl Rose Calls In Sick
A no-show by the rock band Guns N' Roses in south Philadelphia Friday night led fans at the First Union Center to get rowdy.
Police were called in to take care of the rioting crowd of 20,000 after the opening band played and the featured act never appeared. The lead singer, Axl Rose called in sick and the crowd hit the ceiling, literally. "Yeah, it was scary. Guys behind us were throwing ceiling tile at us. We were soaked with soda," said Kristen Spiezio of New Castle, Del.
Concert growers said that the crowd grew unruly after the opening acts played for two hours. Then, when fans saw them packing up and leaving, they went berserk.
"From around 9:30 To 11:30, nothing came on, no announcements. People were throwing drinks," explained Bruce Lewis of Newark, Del.
"People were throwing chairs, throwing beer and hitting people in the head with, like, all kinds of stuff. It just got really, really crazy," said Teressa Mele of Marlton, N.J.
It took more than 100 police officers to restore order. No one was arrested, but several people were taken to the hospital.
First Union Center officials denied that there was any trouble and the organization even allowed media cameras access during the cleanup to prove fans left in an orderly fashion.
Guns N' Roses has a history of canceling concerts and riots.
Last month in Vancouver, police used pepper spray when thousands of fans rioted for an hour after Axl Rose failed to show due to a delayed flight.
"They charge outrageous prices, get everybody's hopes up. We haven't seen these guys for years. Of course we're going to be mad," Spiezio said.
There have also been riots at other Guns N' Roses concerts in St. Louis and Montreal.
First Union Center officials said that concert goers can get a refund at their place of purchase. A second concert scheduled for Sunday has also been canceled.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Fans at a sold-out concert became unruly after the group Guns N' Roses failed to appear, and police were called to the concert arena, officials said.
Witnesses at the First Union Center on Friday night reported angry fans yelling and cursing, some throwing bottles and chairs, and ripping up plants, but a spokesman for the arena operator denied the accounts. Several fights were reported.
Police reported no major injuries.
A spokesman for the arena operator said officials were called shortly after 11 p.m. Friday and told one member of Guns N' Roses was ill, and that the band would not be able to perform. He said he did not know which member was sick.
Members of the audience, while unhappy, left "in an orderly fashion," he said. He said police were called only as a precaution.
The sold-out concert drew an estimated 14,000 fans.
On Nov. 7 in Vancouver, police used pepper spray to disperse thousands of irate fans rampaging outside after a Guns N' Roses concert was canceled because lead singer Axl Rose failed to appear.
No-show pinned on Rose
Guns N' Roses frontman was said to have health problems. Tonight's show also has been canceled.
- Sam Wood, Philadelphia Inquirer
Was he really sick?
Was he just having a bad hair day?
Or was the scuttlebutt true that he was so riveted by the Lakers-Dallas matchup on TV that he couldn't bother to leave his New York City hotel room?
Whatever the reason, Axl Rose's band Guns N' Roses chose not to perform on Friday night. And to add insult to injury the announcement of the band's cancellation didn't come until after 11 p.m.
Officially, a member of the band - that is, the notoriously erratic frontman Rose - was having "health problems."
That left the sold-out house of almost 15,000 fans fuming.
Those fans vented their anger on the First Union Center. They threw bottles, tossed chairs, and pulled down tiles from the ceilings. They overturned garbage cans and knocked over stage equipment.
At least 15 people were injured in the fracas that ensued. Five were taken to the Methodist Hospital Division of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where they were treated for various back and neck injuries, according to a police spokeswoman.
Several extra police units and EMS rescue squads were called in to manage the irate crowd, the spokeswoman said.
Tonight's show at the First Union Spectrum also has been canceled, said Ike Richman, spokesman for Comcast-Spectacor, which manages the arena.
Neither of the concerts will be rescheduled.
Damage to the arena was minimal, and preparations for the next event, a Flyers game, went off without a hitch.
"It's business as usual, and it's on to the next show," Richman said.
The band, with the exception of Rose, was still lodged at the Ritz Carlton in Center City yesterday afternoon. As of last night, Rose had still not checked in. A source at the First Union Center said speculation was that Rose had stayed in his New York hotel room to watch a basketball game.
Friday night's no-show was the second since Guns N' Roses began their North American tour last month. Rose didn't make it to opening night of the tour on Nov. 7 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Rose cited mechanical problems with his private jet.
Fans, who had waited several hours, rioted. Batons, pepper spray and police dogs were required to quell the melee that erupted, according to Pollstar, a concert tour magazine.
The current tour is the first Guns N' Roses has staged in nine years and marks a resurrection of sorts for the late '80s stalwarts.
A set list given to the news media early Friday night listed many fan favorites. The band was to have led off with "Welcome to the Jungle," and segued into a pair of covers: Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die" and Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." Other songs on the list included "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "November Rain." The encore was to have been "Paradise City."
A Guns N' Roses spokeswoman declined comment yesterday. But said that she expected the band to make a statement tomorrow. Refund Information
Both Friday's and tonight's concerts by Guns N' Roses have been canceled. Refunds may be obtained at the point of purchase after 10 a.m. tomorrow.