Some things you never truly expect to happen, a new Tool record or Keith Richards passing away for instance, and slash and Axl Rose playing together on the same stage most certainly falls in to the category. Therefore, Guns n Roses’ 2016 reunion along with original bass man Duff Mckagan came as quite to the surprise to many, even if the lack of Izzy Stradlin and Steve Adler left a bad taste in the mouths of many punters, (myself included), it was still a marquee event in the history of rock n roll none the less. So, a return to the United Kingdom for these three men, together playing music again has been a few years in the making to say the least. This evening has a lot riding on it. How will they sound, will Mr Rose behave himself and will his voice hold up? Tonight then, the most dangerous rock n roll band look the naysayer’s dead in the eye and lay waste to any sceptical individuals in attendance (myself included). As the close to three hours that the band are on stage is the perfect encapsulation of rock n roll excess. As well as a showcasing of some of the best songs ever written, from what is without question, the greatest rock n fuckin roll band the world has ever seen.
From the opening bass line of Its So Easy, nostalgia floods the London Stadium, but not in a ‘look at these old buggers’ sense, it kind of feels like the band never really went away, due mainly to the little details that are in the set, and those in the know will find them instantly recognisable, The Godfather theme tune, Civil Wars Voodoo chile intro or Axl banshee like scream of ‘home fuck’ during Double Talkin Jive. The songs are played with the same levels of reckless intent with which they were written. Of course, the band have matured over the years (and fattened their wallets) so naturally they’re not the street dwelling ‘urchins living under the street’ who took the 80’s sunset strip by storm and ripped up the rule book, emerging amongst a scene which was crumbling under saturation and taking the world by storm. Whether or not slash and Axl have any sort of chemistry off stage is any one’s guess, but on stage the sight of seeing those two up there together is really something to witness, flanked by Duff Mckagan who still oozes punk rock spirit. It would be unfair not to give a shout out to Richard Fortus and Frank Ferrer who gel well and ultimately know their place amongst the current inception of Guns n roses.
The band play a colossal twenty-seven songs, with material from all corners of the bands career as well as a few covers thrown in here and there (a nod to the late Chris Cornell with a cover of Black Hole Sun is a nice touch). Of course, the big hits are what get the crowd going, however the deeper cuts such as Double Talkin Jive, Coma and Out Ta Get Me are really great to hear. The stand out moment has to be Civil War which really typifies the appeal of Guns N Roses and bridges the gap between ballad and hard rock anthem, in a live scenario with the Voodoo Chile intro and whistled intro makes for a powerhouse moment. Tonight’s MVP has to be Axl, a man who surmises rock n roll in his every being, is every bit the icon he is portrayed as tonight. Taking to the stage way earlier than expected (I know, right?) and sounding like a man possessed from start to finish, he well and truly put to bed any questions about whether he still has the vocal capabilities. After numerous wardrobe changes, he settles in behind the piano to lay down a stellar rendition of his piece de resistance in November Rain. Paradise City closes the set tonight and has everyone from the front row to row z on their feet and moving. Whether or not this current incarnation of Guns N Roses will stick around for the foreseeable is uncertain, but in this form, they are an essential, must see band.