GUNS N’ ROSES April 8, T-Mobile Arena.
Just before midnight on Friday night at the new T-Mobile Arena, the lights went down, the sold-out crowd went wild, and new Guns N’ Roses keyboardist Melissa Reese starting playing some ambient soundscapes. It was a few more minutes before the rest of the band members made their entrance, and they didn’t burst onto the stage with rock and roll energy. Instead, singer Axl Rose was awkwardly wheeled out by several crew members as he sat atop a literal throne, borrowed from Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. Rose broke his foot during the GNR show at LA’s Troubadour last week, and thus was stuck performing the entire concert seated, hobbling on and off the stage for occasional breaks.
He kept a sense of humor about it, though, and after a bit of a shaky start (Rose missed several lines in “Mr. Brownstone,” the second song of the night), the second gig since 1993 for reunited original GNR members Rose, guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan went off spectacularly. Although this isn’t a full reunion of the original GNR lineup, the hybrid band of classic members and latecomers (also including guitarist Richard Fortus, keyboardist Dizzy Reed and drummer Frank Ferrer) played very well together, with both Rose and the returning members making allowances for each other.
That meant lots of songs that showcased Slash’s still-virtuosic guitar skills, including the ’90s-era epics “Estranged” and “Coma” (the latter played for the first time since 1993), plus extended instrumental breaks on songs like “Rocket Queen” and “Double Talkin’ Jive.” Slash even added some extra flair to a trio of songs from Rose’s 2008 GNR album Chinese Democracy, especially livening up the mostly dreary ballad “This I Love.” McKagan got to take his turn at the mic for a cover of The Damned’s “New Rose,” while longtime Rose collaborator Fortus snuck in a handful of solos of his own.
Rose’s injury meant that he wasn’t able to take nearly as many backstage breaks as he’s accustomed to, but sitting down seemed to suit him, as his voice sounded excellent throughout the nearly two-and-a-half-hour show. By the end, the band had run through nearly all of its biggest hits, along with enough album tracks and covers to satisfy any longtime fan. The GNR reunion may be imperfect, but the band’s performance on this particular night was immensely satisfying.
“It’s So Easy”
“Welcome to the Jungle”
“Double Talkin’ Jive”
“Live and Let Die”
“You Could Be Mine”
“This I Love”
“Love Theme From The Godfather”/Slash guitar solo
“Sweet Child O’ Mine”
“Wish You Were Here”/“Layla” (instrumental)
“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”