Guns N Roses brings London to their knees (Review)

Guns N Roses
Not In This Lifetime World Tour
Olympic Stadium
17/06/2017

10/10

Axl and Slash tear the roof off the Olympic Stadium, Picture (c) Philip Giouras @ The Perfect Tempo

Axl and Slash tear the roof off the Olympic Stadium, Picture (c) Philip Giouras @ The Perfect Tempo

 

Guns N Roses return true Rock N Roll to London with a blistering, epic 3 hour set that left absolutely no one disappointed.

 

As a 90’s child I never thought I’d get the opportunity to see Axl Rose and Slash together on stage performing some of my all time favourite songs, their toxic relationship which led to a breakdown of one of the biggest rock bands of all time. to think only five years ago Axl was quoted as saying a reunion wouldn’t happen, well “Not In This Lifetime” anyway, come 2015 however and rumours were a blaze that it could actually happen, well last year it finally became a reality.

In 2016 I jetted out to America to see them do 2 amazing but sedated shows at Coachella, It was definitely a fantastic pair of performances but due to a lacklustre crowd (hardly any singing, dancing or moshing in sight) and Axl being stuck seated in Dave Grohl’s throne due to a broken foot just the week before, it failed to live up to those high expectations. none the less I booked tickets to see them bring the tour to my home country of England and let’s just say it’s all I could have hoped for and more.

It’s fair to say the years without Slash and Duff really tainted Guns N Roses legacy, their replacements were not great and their performances were even worse, Axl had let himself go and stopped caring when it came to either turning up on time or looking after his voice, this led to some truly awful car crash shows, It’s safe to say this is a now just a distant nightmare, these 2017 shows are full of energy, it’s clear this reunion is being done properly, the setlist’s have been meticulously crafted and Axl sounds as good as he did in the 80’s once more, as well as sporting a more trim and well built figure than in previous years and Slash of course is still the same old guitar maestro he’s been for years, the seemingly ageless man hasn’t changed a bit.

This is all immediately apparent when bang on 7:45pm the band punctually roar out to the opening riffs of ‘It’s So Easy’, the atmosphere is wild and the song just as ferocious as it was in the 80’s as Axl screams empathically along, the pace doesn’t slow down for a second as they launch into another ‘Appetite’ classic ‘Mr. Brownstone’, The band go hard early on with massive rock songs like ‘Better’ and ‘Double Talkin’ Jive’ seeing the band shred and scream across the stage, the energy is insane and the crowd lap it up in the burning 30 degree heat, nothing gets the crowd going more than fourth track ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ however as the fans absolutely lose it (majority of whom are clad out in classic merchandise from years gone by).

Axl is on fine form throughout, not just an incredible vocal performance but he certainly has the moves to match, just look at ‘Live and Let Die’ where he throws everyone back to the 80’s as he dances joyfully with his mic stand, at points throwing it across the stage, he’s still the same old jester however, especially when he decides to show of his patriotic side with a full on union jack outfit during ‘Rocket Queen’, he literally looked like a waving flag as he bounced across the stage, another patriotic moment came when he got the whole crowd to jubilantly sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Queen Liz, unfortunately she wasn’t in the crowd for the occasion.

What makes this reunion work so well however is that the focus is on all the band not just Axl, Duff for example gets a large introduction and the chance to show off with a cover of The Damned’s ‘New Rose’, Richard Fortus really shines on his duet of Pink Floyd epic ‘Wish You Were Here’ alongside the ever present and fantastic Slash who of course steals the show, be it through his solos in which you’d think his fingers were on fire or through his surprisingly moving rendition of ‘Speak Softly Love’.

Axl sits down at the piano as Slash shreds the November Rain solo Picture (c) Philip Giouras @ The Perfect Tempo

Axl sits down at the piano as Slash shreds the November Rain solo Picture (c) Philip Giouras @ The Perfect Tempo

The second half of the set is definitely home to most of the hits, as the sun begins to set the big guns come out, following from that fantastic Godfather rendition Slash launches into one of the most iconic riffs of all time as ‘Sweet Child Of Mine’ provides one of those standout live moments, all these years and covers later it still can bring a crowd together like no other song can, the crowd absolutely bellowing along to it. ‘November Rain’ is another massive moment in the night as Slash joins a now piano bound Axl at the front of the stage for a truly epic moment, the ballad really kicks off during that iconic guitar shredding solo as sparklers ignite the stage, the energy truly peaks with Slash, if there is any animosity between the pair left you defintiley can’t tell as they play off each other feverishly.

Emotion continued to run high as the set reached it’s conclusion, the late Chris Cornell’s presence was felt throughout the night, not only was his Bond theme ‘You Know My Name’ soundtracking the exit of the crowd but Axl even paid tribute in his own way with a wonderful cover of ‘Black Hole Sun’ it was a stunning moment and an appropriate tribute to the late rocker. the multiple attacks on our city of London were also a focus as Axl made a moving statement before leading into an extended version of ‘Knockin On Heaven’s Door’ which had arms aloft and the audience thoroughly involved. 

‘Night Train’ ended the main set and wow! what a way to close the main proceedings, never has the song sounded so big and bold, from the second that iconic train whistle goes off the band lose all self control and just have fun rocking the stage, it’s as frantic and joyous as the band have been all night. The encore is a slightly sombre affair as ‘Don’t Cry’ allows Axl to really show off his new found vocal abilities, the most surprising moment comes however when Axl sounds almost choked up introducing AC/DC cover ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’, it’s dedicated to his now sadly deceased pet dog of the same name, anyone who’s seen his twitter account has seen his adoration to the animal.

A Guns N’ Roses set as bombastic as tonight has been can only end one way of course, ‘Paradise City’ blares out into the crowd and the stadium just erupts with it, confetti cannons, crazy solos and fireworks fill the night sky, everyone screaming “Take Me Home!!” It’s the perfect culmination of one of the funnest nights I’ve spent in the capital.

This past year Guns N’ Roses have been defying expectations and the doubters, no one believed this reunion would happen and subsequently when it did no one believed it would even be worth a minute of their time, by focusing the reunion on pleasing fans rather than lining their wallets they’ve managed to create a night that will stay in my memories for a long time to come. Axl and Slash welcome back!

 

Setlist:

It's So Easy
Mr. Brownstone
Chinese Democracy
Welcome to the Jungle
Double Talkin' Jive
Better
Estranged
Live and Let Die (Wings cover) 
Rocket Queen (Axl Union Jack outfit)
You Could Be Mine
New Rose (The Damned cover)
This I Love
Civil War
Yesterdays (preceded by Happy Birthday to Queen Elizabeth II)
Coma (with band introductions)
Slash Guitar Solo
Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather) (Nino Rota cover)
Sweet Child O' Mine
Out Ta Get Me
Wish You Were Here(Pink Floyd cover) (Slash & Richard Fortus guitar duet)
November Rain (with "Layla" piano exit intro… more )
Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden cover)
Knockin' on Heaven's Door (Bob Dylan cover) (with tribute to London)
Nightrain

Encore:

Don't Cry
Whole Lotta Rosie (AC/DC cover)
Paradise City