Fans riot at aborted Guns n' Roses concert when Axl fails to show. The band's first North American tour in a decade was supposed to launch in Vancouver, but frontman Rose's flight was delayed, and promoters pulled the plug

By Gary Susman
Updated November 11, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST
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Axl Rose
Credit: Axl Rose: Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect

Fans in Vancouver were so eager to see the reconstituted Guns n’ Roses concert scheduled on Thursday that, when promoters pulled the plug because frontman Axl Rose wasn’t going to make it, the crowd rioted. Reuters reports that Rose was delayed by mechanical problems on his flight from California, prompting booker Clear Channel to scrap at the last minute what would have been the launch of the band’s first North American tour in nine years.

According to MTV, upon hearing the news of the cancellation, fans who had paid up to $80 per ticket reacted by throwing bottles and rocks and by ramming the metal barricades through the glass doors of the GM Place arena. Riot police arrived 20 minutes later and broke up the crowd with pepper spray and beatings, MTV reports. A police spokesperson interviewed by a local TV station said the crowd was out of control and characterized the police response as ”a proper use of force.”

Band members inside the arena were apparently unaware of what was going on outside. Hearing of the cancellation, bassist Tommy Stinson said, ”Axl is gonna be pissed,” according to MTV. The band’s reps said the show might be rescheduled, and that Friday’s scheduled concert in Tacoma, Wash., would go on as planned.

Axl was blamed for another G n’ R concert riot in St. Louis in 1991 when, 90 minutes into the performance, he jumped into the audience in pursuit of a camera-wielding fan, effectively ending the show. He was found guilty of assault and property damage, sentenced to two years probation, and fined $50,000.

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