GUNS N’ ROSES
VETERAN ROCKERS PUT THEIR DANGER DAYS BEHIND THEM AS SPECTACULAR REUNION TOUR ROLLS ON.
Diligent? Well-drilled? Punctual? Amazingly, it’s GN’R in Paris.
THERE IS A HEART-IN-THE-MOUTH MOMENT WHEN AXL ROSE BERATES A “SECURITY F**KHEAD”.
GUNS N’ ROSES STADE DE FRANCE, PARIS FRIDAY, 7 JULY, 2017
When Axl Rose traipsed out of LA’s Chateau Marmont hotel, Lana Del Rey in tow, in April 2012, he probably didn’t expect the words he uttered to assembled paparazzi to wind up on thousands of T-shirts five years down the line. But then, not much of the “Not In This Lifetime” tour, christened in homage to the answer Rose gave to the question of “How about a reunion tour?”, has gone as expected over the past 16 months. This reuniting of their classic line-up was supposed to be a calamity. Rose, guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan had barely spoken to each other for over two decades, let alone shared a stage. Yet a run that started in Las Vegas in April last year has carried on without so much as a hiccup, earning its three main protagonists enough money to paper over 24 years of slurs and slander. Evidently, there is a price at which being labelled “a cancer, and better removed”, a barb levelled by the frontman towards his guitar player, can be forgotten, if not forgiven (somewhere between $ 3 million and $ 9 million per show, for some 120 gigs, if you’re counting). Paris is the latest place to find itself awash in identikit commemorative T-shirts, each marking out fans in the cafés and bars hours before their descent upon the Stade de France begins. Their eventual march to the northern edge of Axl Rose’s favourite city comes a great deal earlier than fans old enough to have seen Guns N’ Roses in their heyday would have been accustomed to. A band once renowned for their danger and dysfunction – plus those absurdly late show times – is now a diligent and well-drilled unit, taking to the stage barely a beat after their advertised 8pm kick-off time. That, however, is about the only thing noticeably different about Guns N’ Roses. Some of the supporting faces are missing – founding members Steven Adler and Izzy Stradlin aren’t present, their involvement curtailed, depending on who you believe, by health and money respectively. But they have almost seamlessly picked up from where they left off in their prime. Rose – slimmer, happier and in finer voice than at any other time in recent history – stalks the stage, snapping and snarling through opener It’s So Easy, Mr Brownstone and Welcome To The Jungle’s iconic beginning. Slash, meanwhile, pounds up and down his fretboard, devouring riff after riff, while Duff McKagan struts a swagger behind the pair of them. There’s a heart-in-the-mouth moment during Chinese Democracy cut Better when Rose abandons his vocal to berate a “security fuckhead” and 80,000 people collectively wince in anticipation of the frontman stropping off the stage, but a post-song smile and olive-branch apology keeps the show on the rails. And good thing it does, too, because this is a band in the finest fettle. Appetite For Destruction, celebrating its 30th- anniversary, takes centre-stage. Rocket Queen, Sweet Child O’ Mine, My Michelle and Nightrain form the spine of a setlist that also sees Use Your Illusion-era epics Estranged, Coma, Civil War, November Rain and Don’t Cry fill every corner of this cavernous stadium. Even the much-maligned Chinese Democracy material, afforded four numbers, is given new life and urgency, joined at the party by covers of The Damned, Pink Floyd, Soundgarden, The Who and AC/DC. In all, three hours and 30 songs sail by in a tight, superbly-paced set. Cue a closing Paradise City, confetti cannons, circle pits, fireworks and an applause milked by the band’s multiple arm-in-arm bows. Rose and Slash even leave the stage embracing. And who’d have thought you’d see that in this lifetime?
A ripped Axl Rose is “slimmer, happier and in fine voice...” Paris, July 2017.
The Guns club: the band (pictured, from left, Rose, drummer Frank Ferrer, Slash) are now a “diligent and well-drilled unit.”
Extreme close-up! A Slash guitar solo takes centre-stage.