PHOTOS: Guns N' Roses rocks South Beach into the wee hours

Chris Bradshaw/Special to the Daily News 
 Axl Rose incites the Fillmore crowd. Legendary hard rock band Guns N' Roses, led by original member and singer Rose, brought its 'Up Close and Personal Tour' to The Fillmore at Jackie Gleason Theater on Miami Beach on March 5, 2012. The setlist for the lively, three-hour show spanned the group's six studio albums, including its 2008 release 'Chinese Democracy.' Its debut record in 1987, the acclaimed 'Appetite for Destruction,' has sold over 28 million copies. The band will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next month.

Photo by Chris Bradshaw

Chris Bradshaw/Special to the Daily News Axl Rose incites the Fillmore crowd. Legendary hard rock band Guns N' Roses, led by original member and singer Rose, brought its "Up Close and Personal Tour" to The Fillmore at Jackie Gleason Theater on Miami Beach on March 5, 2012. The setlist for the lively, three-hour show spanned the group's six studio albums, including its 2008 release "Chinese Democracy." Its debut record in 1987, the acclaimed "Appetite for Destruction," has sold over 28 million copies. The band will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next month.

The cozy Fillmore Miami Beach was the homestretch of the national run for the Guns N' Roses "Up Close and Personal Tour," a brief string of dates in small theaters and clubs. The group heads home to Los Angeles for three final shows next week.

The tour is an ingenious albeit contrasting endeavor for such a grand band, and the timing of it is perfect: GnR will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next month.

First oddity of the evening? Fans who arrived with old Guns T-shirts were told to turn them inside-out to enter the venue. One dude had to return his top hat to his car. Next was the start time. Tickets said 10 p.m. After a local opening band's set, Guns hit the stage minutes before midnight. Axl Rose and his dominant gang of seven artful musicians took their final bow at 3:01 a.m., the day after the date on the ticket.

Welcome to Axl's jungle.

But if there was a show that made up for a puzzling nuance or any inconvenience, oh, this was the one. About 2,500 fans came to rock out with one of the most aggressive bands of our time — its profound, bombastic history in perpetual tow.

Axl sounded superb, from his low, belly-producing growls all the way up to his nasally screeches. He prowled and shimmied his way around the stage, slapping and grabbing fans' hands.

As on previous tour stops, he bantered a bit with the crowd, saying how Lisa Marie Presley hung with the band on its bus after the Orlando show two nights prior. He teased the crowd during one singalong, wryly quipping "your timing was worse than mine." And of the intimate Fillmore Miami Beach and its grateful occupants, he proclaimed "Beautiful building... great (expletive) crowd!"

While Axl has used a varied assemblage of musicians over the years — by 1997 he was the lone original member — the current Guns arsenal is stacked with rock talent and showmanship.

The trio of guitarists was tenacious. During a raucous cover of AC/DC's "Whole Lotta Rosie," Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal dangled his guitar into the crowd for fans to strum. Later, DJ Ashba darted into the stage-left crowd during "Night Train" and got swarmed. Richard Fortus played with the passion and expression of someone fighting to make the team or keep their job. And each had time to flex with solos.

A lengthy setlist spanning the group's six studio albums all led to the tour de force "Paradise City" finale. Dense confetti explosions showered the frenzied crowd, symbolically supplying an adrenaline jolt to finish the show and get home safely before sunrise.

Not everyone made it to the end: I spotted a few who nodded out and some rock wusses ditched part way through. But those standing at the end — especially those nuts in the general admission pit — endured an epic rock marathon.

Chris Bradshaw is a Southwest Florida-based concert photographer who loves to shoot the show. He's covered local bands in tiny smoke-filled bars, U2 in a sold out stadium and everything in between, from Jimmy Buffett in Paris to Hellyeah on a cruise ship.

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