I became a fan of Guns N Roses from the first time I heard their music. The raw guitars, melodic, pounding drums, and their look were all mesmerising for me. Slash and Axl were larger than life in my mind, and had the coolest names I had ever heard. Unfortunately though, throughout my prime years of concert going, they were at odds with each other. The iteration put out there was nothing I was willing to pay for, so their recent reunion was an incredible opportunity for me.
Well I was back in Australia for maybe two days and I get a message from my friend “Hey wanna go to GNR? $79.” I immediately jumped on this, and really couldn’t believe the price. I thought for sure it was a mistake or we were way back in the corner of the stadium. Regardless, I was very excited to go, and the real thing was absolutely incredible, and beyond any expectations I had.
Duff is probably one of the lesser known members of GNR for casual fans. The other members have had their noteworthy ‘episodes’ in the public eye, and there was the whole drummer drama. Duff has been the rock though, pardon the pun, but he is consistently amazing, and a fantastic musician. Seeing him live was incredible as your attention is almost drawn to him without you even noticing.
It was fitting they opened the big screen shot on Duff’s guitar, complete with Prince logo. It really set the tone for the show, and one of the coolest moments of the night was when he made his way up the steps, behind the drum kit, and was playing in front of the giant screen, in his element, and just wailing away.
W. AXL ROSE
I was most worried about Axl because, ya know, history. However, he was excellent, in absurd heat nonetheless as well. It was 42C/111F during the day, and by the time the concert started it was probably around 32C/90F. Add in all those lights and running around the stage, it’s got to be a bit uncomfortable to say the least, but Axl, and the whole band and crew, powered through.
I thought I was going insane, but I double-checked with my friends, and they agreed: Axl got better as the concert went on. I would say the last six to seven songs were his strongest. Like all of us, he’s a bit older, but when he needed to hit those high notes he did, and we even got a grand piano for November Rain. He was everything the crowd wanted him to be, and they loved him for it.
The main event. The guy everyone wants to see. The top hat. The hair. The sunglasses. The vertical guitar playing. It was all there, and it was all amazing. Slash looked like he always has, the guy might be immortal. But in all seriousness, he could have played another five hours, even in that nasty heat.
When they would put him on the big screen during solos, you could see the sweat flying off his fingers as he played, but he seemed utterly unconcerned about it. He just kept jamming away. There’s not much more to say. Slash was Slash, and it was everything I was hoping it to be.
There were two special guests for this one. The first being Angry Andersen, or as I knew him “The guy with the mannequin head on his back in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome!” He is also the lead singer of Rose Tattoo, one of the opening acts, and an Aussie rock legend. My Aussie friends loved when I said “Oh hey it’s Tina Turner’s buddy!” Thought they were supposed to have a good sense of humor?
The other guest, and my all-time favorite special guest ever, was the legend himself, Angus Young. Guns N Roses used to play Whole Lotta Rosie in their early days, so it made sense to have THE MAN himself come out for it. It was funny to see Angus on-stage, playing guitar, but just wearing jeans and a white t-shirt and not the usual schoolboy outfit. Regardless, it was amazing to see, and he is still the king, schoolboy outfit or not.
I was unaware that Steven Adler, Matt Sorum, and Izzy Stradlin were not involved in this one. Not that it took anything away, since the big three were there. It was a great show though, and I am happy it happened to be on when I was in Sydney. I’ve wanted to see Guns N Roses for two decades, but wanted the original lineup. While it wasn’t all the guys, it was the three I wanted to see the most, and now I can mark this off my must-see acts. Thanks GNR, you exceeded the hype!