Nighttrain wreck

Although "doomed to fail" might have seemed strong words three months ago when referring to the return of the once-mighty Guns ' Roses, in retrospect, the idea of Axl Rose with some hired Guns heading out to fill arenas across the U.S. seems kind of silly. And thanks to Axl's temper tantrums and a lukewarm reception to GNR's current "incarnation," the tour that was supposed to herald the return of one of rock's most legendary bands has fizzled out in a messy spectacle. The first Guns ' Roses tour in nearly a decade has now been officially canceled (forget Friday, Dec. 13, in Tampa).

But why? Why did Clear Channel and GNR insist on booking the tour into arenas when midsize venues would have been far more appropriate and exciting? Why did the band start touring for an album that isn't even out yet?

The answer: Axl Rose. Axl Rose is, was and always will be Guns ' Roses. And sure, Guns ' Roses is, was and always will be one of the best hard-rock bands around. But Axl seems positively deluded into thinking that he's as relevant now as he was 10 years ago. But in an environment that sees the two former lead singers of Van Halen touring together and still unable to half-fill venues, the only reason for forcing this show into cavernous hockey rinks is because Axl can't admit that times have changed.

But it all fell apart and maybe that's what needed to happen. Even Axl has to realize that mistakes were made and most of the bad calls were his.

Here's hoping that one of two things happens now, and both of them require a downsizing of Axl's ego. The first would be a full-on "reunion" of the "real" Guns ' Roses. That band -- with a new, recorded-on-a-bender rawk record -- could fill up arenas all over the world without a shred of critical grumbling. The other option would be for Axl to introduce -- rather than force-feed -- his new band and new material via moderately sized venues. After all, for an entire generation, he's no more than a fat guy who blew on MTV's Video Music Awards.

But neither of these will happen. Dr. Franken-Rose will go back into his lab and start tinkering with Chinese Democracy for another three or four years and the same thing will happen all over again. And that's too bad. Because it's only ruining a truly great rock & roll legacy.