Guns N' Roses

Telia Parken, Copenhagen - 2017

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

We have reviewed Guns N’ Roses before this here at Metalmoments, but they’re not exactly a band that stops by with much frequency, so when the opportunity to catch them in our hometown arose, we grabbed it, and grabbed it good!

With them, Guns N’ Roses had brought two support bands, neither of which had really gotten through to the crowd – people were here to see Guns N’ Roses, and nothing else! So, the question was, would Guns N’ Roses deliver?
To start things off, Guns N’ Roses delivered one heck of a long intro, that’s for sure! The look of the stage was that there was one huge video screen in the back, and one large video screen to each side of the stage, and one these, a video was rolling while ambient sounds filled the park. The video showed several different versions of the Guns N’ Roses logo, all of them displaying different kinds of guns, and one with a Viking looking helmet with tentacles coming out of it. Not sure what that was all about.
After a long while, the guns of the logos fired, ending with the classical revolver, which fired eight shots (I thought they could only hold six?), after which the music changed to The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down (the Looney Tunes intro), which in turn was followed by Harry Gregson-Williams’ theme from the movie The Equalizer. A long intro indeed, and yet in the end, the band was nearly on time. Not something they’ve precisely been famous for in the past, so this came as a pleasant surprise.

Without wasting time, the band, boosted by the loud cheers of the audience, went straight into the first song of the evening, It’s So Easy. Probably a good choice, as it’s famous enough to get the crowd going, and at the same time sung in such a low key, that it gave Axl Rose time to warm up his voice before heading to his trademark high pitch.
It did seem like a warm-up time was required as well, because the band wasn’t all there in the beginning of the show. Sure, they were physically there, but the performance and presence wasn’t all that it could be. In a dark corner of my mind, I figured this was what could be expected from these guys at this time in history, but I’m happy to say that this thought was put to shame. Little by little the whole band got more into it, performing better, and giving more to the audience as well.
The huge thing here, was of course that two of the classic line-up was back in the band – Michael Andrew ‘Duff’ McKagan, and Saul ‘Slash’ Hudson. Given the history between these three gentlemen, Rose included, it’s no wonder the tour was named “Not in this lifetime”, which is probably what most people, including the above three, would have answered if asked about the possibility of this reunion.
What I’m getting at, is that even though Rose wasn’t up to snuff straight from the start, there was plenty of stuff to keep the audience occupied. Slash delivered extended intro’s and outro’s, as well as in-between jamming sessions, for almost every single song. At times alone, at other times accompanied by McKagan, and rhythm guitarist Richard Fortus and drummer Frank Ferrer. Also in the band at this time, was long-time keyboard collaborator Darren Arthur ‘Dizzy’ Reed, and second keyboard artist Melissa Reese, who’s also a musical collaborator with former Guns N’ Roses drummer Bryan ‘Brain’ Mantia.

The constant jamming by Slash actually got a bit too much after a while. I’m not contesting his qualities as a guitar player, which are mighty indeed, but I almost got the feeling that this was the result of a compromise between two grand egos. Slash being back in the band, meant that he had to shine at least as much as Rose did.
McKagan on the other hand, seemed more relaxed, laid back even, and happy just to be performing. In the end, it was actually McKagan and Fortus that impressed me the most at this show, but that’s another story. McKagan also had the honour of doing lead vocals for the The Damned cover New Rose, just as he did on “The Spaghetti Incident?” release, a position he handled quite well, and of course to loud cheers from the audience.
Guns N’ Roses was actually performing a whole bunch of covers this evening, something that has led to critique in some medias, but honestly, I didn’t find it bothersome. I mean, my god, they performed for more than three whole hours, and there was plenty of time both for covers and original work!
Staples of the band, the Wings cover Live And Let Die as well as Bob Dylan’s Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, weren’t surprising to hear, both being songs that are probably better known by now in their Guns N’ Roses versions than in their original form, but the band also had some other tricks up their sleeve. For one thing, the band paid tribute to the recently departed Chris Cornell, by covering the Soundgarden major hit Black Hole Sun. Honestly, Rose’s voice doesn’t hold a candle to Cornell’s if you ask me, but the gesture was nice. A bit strange that Rose didn’t say anything in connection to it though, but then again, he almost didn’t speak at all for the entire show.
Personally, I was quite surprised by the instrumental cover of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here as well, and it cemented my feeling of preferring the guitar work (oh blasphemy of blasphemies!) of Fortus over that of Slash.

As mentioned, Rose didn’t really speak much to the Danish audience, which could be taken as a sign of not being properly present, but to that I can only say hogwash! Just by looking at him, you could see that he was enjoying his time on the stage, and he was enjoying playing again with the band members around him. Whatever their differences have been in the past, Rose and the others didn’t let it affect them here and now. The only thing stealing some of the attention from his good mood, was whatever it is he’s had done to his face. Botox, facelift, whatever it was, his face seemed slightly unnatural, not properly managing to carry emotion. Oh well, a minor gripe, and it didn’t seem to affect his singing.
Now, it wouldn’t be a proper stadium show, without a few added extra effects, now would it? And this was a proper stadium show, performed at a sold-out stadium and all.
To this affect, there was of course the stage build-up. The large video screens have already been mentioned, which interchangeably showed close-ups of the band, and pre-made video clips, and there was also a ramp going behind the drumkit, with stairs going down on each side. This, as well as the catwalk in the front, gave the band members plenty of room to move about on, something that they took full advantage of.
The front of the catwalk also had a row of silver horns installed, which usage wasn’t explained until Nightrain, where Rose blew the horns to mark the beginning of the song. This wasn’t the only secret the catwalk held either – as our attention was on Slash and Fortus playing Wish You Were Here on the ramp in the back, the floor of the catwalk opened up, and from below a hidden compartment, a grand piano was raised, for Rose to play November Rain on afterwards.
From time to time, fireworks would also go off to either side of the stage, and the band also had flamethrowers installed behind the ramp, shooting tall pillars of fire straight up when it fit the music. In Paradise City, the band was going out with a bang, utilising all of the above to the max, and also firing confetti cannons from the front of the stage!
One other point which has received much criticism, is the sound quality of the show. Admittedly, stadium concerts seldom have perfect audio quality, and I’m sure there have been places in Telia Parken which haven’t been in the sweet spot, as it were, but from my position inside the Golden Circle, there wasn’t a thing to complain about. Well, not for Guns N’ Roses anyway, the support bands are a different story.

I’m glad we got this opportunity to catch Guns N’ Roses in our hometown. We may have reviewed them before, but it was nothing like this. In my mind, the band went far above and beyond anything that I had imagined they had in them. Not only the sheer amount of time they played in, which was an impressive enough feat in itself, but also the quality of the show during this time, all the songs they, despite constant solo’s, managed to play (although, where was Don’t Cry?), and the fact that the crowd finally showed its worth – all combined made for a great atmosphere and one hell of a party. There’s no way the band can do it better than this, I’m even blown away by them being able to do it this well at this point!

Setlist:

The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down (Cliff Friend & Dave Franklin song)
The Equalizer (Harry Gregson-Williams song)

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
Whole Lotta Rosie (AC/DC cover)
You Could Be Mine
New Rose (The Damned cover)
This I Love
Civil War
Yesterdays
Coma
Solo (Slash)
Speak Softly Love (Love Theme from The Godfather) (Nino Rota cover)
Sweet Child O’ Mine
My Michelle
Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd cover)
November Rain
Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden cover)
Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan cover)
Nightrain
Patience
The Seeker (The Who cover)
Paradise City
You Know My Name (Chris Cornell song)

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