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The 'Not In This Lifetime' tour is exactly what we all thought. Those that missed the infamous Guns N' Roses ‘Use Your Illusion’ tour back in '93, myself included, have been kicking themselves hardcore ever since. We never thought we'd see the day that a Gunners tour poster would be glued up on billboards on our shores again. Admittedly it's 3/5 of the lineup everyone had hoped for but it's the Gunners live nonetheless with three of it's main players.
As the MCG started to fill to the brim with 73,756 avid Gunners fans, Barry White appropriately serenaded the Valentine's Day crowd. Guns N’ Roses were 45 minutes late and it was assumed by those around me that they’d been waiting for the sun to go down to give the stadium the full effect of the light show.
As their 'Looney Tunes' intro started, every seated ticket holder stood in anticipation. Their long time announcer and guitar tech McBob introduced the band but he was welcomed with boo’s after addressing the city as Sydney! Straight after the event, the media hype overplayed just how much fans were angry over it. It was just a small blip, as it wasn’t long before original members Axl Rose (vocals), Slash (lead guitar) and Duff McKagan (bass) hit the stage. The roar was HUGE and it was straight into ‘It’s So Easy’ from their legendary 1987 album and the bestselling debut of all time, Appetite For Destruction.
Filling out the rest of the band on this tour is Dizzy Reed (keyboard, piano, percussion and has been with them since 1990), Richard Fortus (rhythm guitar – since 2002), Frank Ferrer (drums – since 2006) and newcomer Melissa Reese (synthesizers, keyboards, programming). One of the elephants in the stadium would definitely have to be that classic era members Izzy Stradlin (rhythm guitar) and Steven Adler (drums) weren’t on stage and that would’ve been amazing but this current lineup sounds massive. As fireworks exploded at the end of the opener and they kicked into ‘Mr. Brownstone’, the band completely reinforced that the LA stadium rockers were back with a vengeance and full force.
Although the entire band impressed, it really was Slash and Duff who stole the night. Hearing them play Guns n’ Roses songs during their own tours has always been a stand out but seeing them back in the band and playing an entire set, it was the closest thing to a rock’n’roll religious experience most of those there will have. For me Slash really rises above most with his solos, his style really shines through, like in ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, ‘Paradise City’ and ‘Estranged’ to only name a few. And no one wah’s like Slash! Duff’s bass was crunchy and exploded off the stage. His sound had so much guts, gave the songs loads more drive and he looks possibly the best he ever has. Fit, rock solid playing, always a pleasure to see live and the “No Fucks Given” t-shirt was a nice touch.
The other elephant that’s been brought up more than McBob screwing up which city they were in, is Rose’s vocal strength and range. Sure he’s not his ol’ ’87 Appetite self but considering we’re 30 years on this year (wow!) and how it’s sounded in the past, it was truly awesome. Rose sounds like he’s been working on it and although there were times when he sounded tired and a little overworked, he nailed some of it like the hardest sections in 'Welcome To The Jungle' and that vocal build in the intro, gave me goosebumps! Although it was the fourth song into the set, it was like their anthemic intro for the night. So for those playing at home, let’s say for argument sake, his vocals are currently in between present day Vince Neil and Rob Halford but definitely sitting a lot more on Halford’s side.
The rumours had been confirmed earlier in the day, that AC/DC’s Angus Young would be joining Guns N' Roses on stage, as he did at both Sydney shows at ANZ Stadium. Still, all held their breath until he was introduced. As he did at the previous shows, again rocking through two of his own bands songs from the late ‘70s, ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ and ‘Riff Raff’. It was a one off experience only seen on this tour! Young may be 61, but he was still running around and rockin harder than most a third of his age and it was cool to see him onstage out of his trademark schoolboy uniform.
Fan footage via YouTube
During the monstrous two and half hour set, they may have lost some of the crowd at moments, like during their cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’, but that was probably more due to personal taste with the songs being played as each one still got massive cheers. Admittedly ‘Better’ from 2008’s Chinese Democracy wasn’t a crowd fav and Sydney was treated with ‘Patience’ which was swapped out in Melbourne for ‘Don’t Cry’, but again, it's all up to your personal taste. Some of the biggest crowd favourite’s were ‘Welcome To The Jungle’, ‘Nightrain’ and ‘November Rain’, along with the biggest singalongs like ‘Live and Let Die’ (Wings), complete with animated six shooters blasting on the drum beats in the chorus, ‘You Could Be Mine’, ‘Knockin On Heaven’s Door’ and to be expected, ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, which when played people completely lost it! There’s a reason that song is such a success, it gets inside your head and never leaves. Catchy riff, killer solo and the perfect song structure akin to The Beatles or Stones. And it makes other bands ‘power ballads’ sound like yacht rock in comparison.
Highlights: Angus Young joining them on stage! ‘Nightrain’, ‘Mr Brownstone’, ‘Welcome To The…’ ok everything from Appetite For Destruction, ‘You Could Be Mine’, Duff covering ‘Attitude’ (The Misfits), hearing the ‘Layla’ (Derek and the Dominos) outro for the intro to ‘November Rain’ with Slash soloing over Rose on piano and definitely hearing Rocket Queen. From one of the best Guns N' Roses intros through to both Fortus’ and Slash’s solos, it was perfect. Axl came out in a black cowboy hat and dancing his signature sway. The song is a stand out on Appetite For Destruction and definitely in the night’s set as well. That is a lot of highlights for one rock show.
For the VIP’s their treatment (albeit at the cost of selling a kidney) was like royalty. VIP priority check-in, dedicated merch stand and toilets, mobile phone charging stations, exclusive showbags filled with memorabilia, a tour of the stage and the ‘Paradise City’ VIP Party Experience ticket holders receiving complimentary canapés, beer, wine, and signature GN’R cocktails while a DJ blasted hits from the Guns N' Roses era.
Photo credit: Sarah Tarr
It's been said that there was issues with the sound but it sounded great from the floor. Unfortunately stadiums aren’t usually the perfect place to hear bands but I don’t think 110 consecutive nights at The Corner Hotel would’ve been possible.
As their last song for the night, ‘Paradise City’, came to an end and the sky erupted in fireworks and confetti cannons exploded with a bang. A live music regret of not seeing the band back in the day had been fulfilled. Overall it was an incredible night and well worth it. Not many bands can deliver a set like they did 30 years prior but Guns N’ Roses came damn close to it and have definitely squashed any doubt whether or not they can still kick arse. How it felt walking out after and to misuse one of their lyrics, “When you’re high you never ever wanna come down”.
Guns N' Roses Setlist:
1. It's So Easy
2. Mr. Brownstone
3. Chinese Democracy
4. Welcome To The Jungle
5. Double Talkin' Jive
8. Live and Let Die (Wings cover)
9. Rocket Queen
10. You Could Be Mine
11. Attitude (Misfits cover) (with "You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory’ intro)
12. This I Love
13. Civil War (with band introductions)
14. Slash Guitar Solo
15. Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather) (Nino Rota cover)
16. Sweet Child O' Mine
17. Whole Lotta Rosie (AC/DC cover) (with Angus Young)
18. Riff Raff (AC/DC cover) (with Angus Young)
19. Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd cover) (Slash & Richard Fortus guitar duet)
20. November Rain ("Layla" piano exit intro with Axl Rose playing grand piano)
21. Knockin' On Heaven's Door (Bob Dylan cover)
23. Don't Cry (with Led Zeppelin's "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You” (intro)
24. Paradise City
Guns N' Roses upcoming tour dates:
Saturday 18th Feb 2017 at Adelaide Oval
Tuesday 21st Feb 2017 at Perth Domain Stadium
Fan footage via YouTube
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