The band’s November 6 gig at the Cumberland County Civic Center was canceledhours before the show was to take place. Almost immediately, fan and gossip sites were awashwith theories as to why GNR backed out, including poor ticket sales and the band not beingallowed to drink on stage.

Steve Crane, GM of the Civic Center, said it was up to the band to explain the reasons forthe cancellation.

“We were set up. We were ready to go. The stage was all set. All the technical andlogistical requirements that we were asked to fulfill as an arena were fulfilled.” Crane toldPollstar. “I just received word from the band and the promoter that the show was canceled andthey issued a press release.”

That press release, and various statements posted on numerous fan sites, revved up therumor mill. Some blamed ticket sales, some blamed clashes with fire marshals over the band’ssetup and pyrotechnics, and still others blamed the cancellation on an old state law that prohibitsperformers from drinking on stage.

A representative for the Maine Department of Public Safety said in a statement November9 that the band was informed by fire marshal inspectors during a pre-show pyrotechnics testthat it could not drink on stage, and the show was consequently canceled a few hours later.

“The band had wanted to drink beer, wine and Jagermeister while performing,” accordingto the statement.

But representatives for the band said it wasn’t all that simple.

“Axl doesn’t drink on stage,” said production manager Chris Gratton.

GNR manager Merck Mercuriadis told Pollstar that during the setup, he was informed byGratton that the fire marshals were intent on harassing not only the band, but the audience aswell.

“They made it clear they were going to harass the fans and that they were going to give$1,000 citations to every fan that was smoking cigarettes during the performance, that if anyonewas caught drinking that they would be arrested on the spot,” Mercuriadis said. “That they weregoing to basically do everything that they possibly could do to make sure that this Guns N’ Rosesperformance was as compromised as possible.

“At the end of the day, this is a band that has had issues in the past, and we’re very, verycareful not to put the band or put Axl in the situation where there’s going to be a problem.”

But Mercuriadis denied that the real problem had anything to do with ticket sales nor theband’s mercurial frontman, who’s had his share of last-minute no-shows in years past.

“Ticket sales didn’t come into it at all. We gave up $200,000 to do what we thought wasthe right thing here,” he said. “We went into Portland, Maine, knowing that it was a soft market,knowing that whether it was 3,500 people or whether it was 5,000 people that was what it waslikely to be. And we would have played for those kids. You know, 3,500 kids are important tous.” Fans were given the option to use tickets at a Worcester, Mass., concert two days later orreceive refunds at point of purchase.