Q’s For GNR

Axl Rose and the latest incarnation of Guns N’ Roses received good reviews on a four-night stand at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom that ended May 17th, but one question keeps showing up in various media as well as on T-shirts: What will Axl do?

Is Rose on the verge of a comeback, or has the long-awaited return grown cold? The question is being processed by the WOPR computer, and there’s no telling when it will spit out the answer.

On the positive side, the four Hammerstein shows sold out in three minutes, according to Sanctuary Artist Management, and Rose, with guitarists Richard Fortus, Robin Finck and Ron Thall, keyboardists Chris Pitman and Dizzy Reed, and bassist Tommy Stinson didn’t disappoint.

“We’ve just finished our four shows in New York and had an amazing time. New York has always been special and it feels great to be doing this again – particularly in front of so many friends,” Rose said in a statement. “I am very excited about Europe and getting back over here in September.”

It didn’t hurt that former GNR member Izzy Stradlin, Kid Rock and Skid Row‘s Sebastian Bach sat in on a few songs at the Hammerstein and performed tracks from Chinese Democracy, the much-ballyhooed album that’s been more than 10 years in the making.

But when the band tours, will that be enough to get butts into seats?

Gena Penny, talent buyer for Los Angeles’ Whisky a Go Go where GNR played early gigs in the ’80s, doesn’t think so.

“He really lost it for himself,” Penny said. “The other guys were taking other projects and keeping themselves visible in the industry, where Axl just became a recluse. I think a lot of people just feel that he’s kind of a joke.”

The North American leg of GNR’s 2002 comeback tour ended when the reclusive Rose failed to show up for a Philadelphia concert, angering concertgoers.

“Axl’s got a lot of making up to do,” one female fan said. “There was a stadium in Philly filled with fans who were ready to give the new Guns N’ Roses a chance and Axl screwed them.”

There was one reported incident involving a kinder, gentler Rose May 18th, the night after the band wrapped up the Hammerstein gigs.

The frontman and fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger reportedly got into a scuffle at the Plumm nightclub during a birthday party for actress Rosario Dawson.

Hilfiger got upset when Rose moved aside a drink belonging to the designer’s girlfriend. Rose apparently moved the glass so that it would not get spilled, but Hilfiger took exception and allegedly took a couple of swings at Rose.

“Axl was a gentleman and had the good sense not to retaliate, as he would have done some serious damage to Hilfiger,” Plumm owner Noel Ashman told the San Francisco Chronicle.

After filling out a police report, Rose and the band played a surprise acoustic set for the birthday girl and dedicated “You’re Crazy” to Hilfiger, the paper said.