Five thoughts: Guns N’ Roses at T-Mobile Arena (November 17)

Guns N’ Roses, performing November 17 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Photo: Katarina Benzova

1. Guns N’ Roses’ former reputation for extreme tardiness (which was mainly just lead singer Axl Rose’s reputation) has turned into something like extreme punctuality, but plenty of fans clearly were caught off-guard when the band took the stage just 15 minutes after the show’s listed start time, with no opening act. The empty seats quickly filled up, though, and Rose and his bandmates played for a marathon (and somewhat exhausting) three and a half hours, ending right around the time one of their concerts might have started back in the ’90s.

2. The last time GNR was in town, in April 2016, it was for the kick-off of the still-running Not in This Lifetime semi-reunion tour, bringing Rose back together with fellow original members Slash (guitar) and Duff McKagan (bass), along with bandmates who’ve been working with Rose since Slash and McKagan left. That show was impressive, but the band has clearly gotten tighter since then, as well as increasing its stamina, sounding great from the first notes of “It’s So Easy” through the final notes of “Paradise City,” the older members meshing seamlessly with the later additions.

3. Also back in April 2016, Rose was recovering from a broken foot and performed the entire show sitting down, but this time he almost never stopped moving, and even with all the exertion, his voice still sounded fantastic. Rose’s frequent (as in, nearly every other song) mid-show breaks have become part of his mystique, but whatever he does backstage every few minutes to refresh himself, it’s worth it if it allows him to wail through epics like “Estranged” and “Coma” sounding nearly as powerful as he did 25 years ago.

4. Three and a half hours left a lot of room for a variety of material, including six songs from 2008 pre-reunion album Chinese Democracy, which were enhanced a bit by impressive lead guitar work from Slash, but there was only so much he could do for plodding dirges like “Prostitute” and “Sorry.” At least punchy rockers “Better” and the album’s title track have semi-decent hooks.

5. The band also threw in a whole bunch of covers—from GNR hits like Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die” and Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” to concert staples like The Who’s “The Seeker” and Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” (an instrumental with dueling guitar solos from Slash and Richard Fortus). The holdover tributes to Glen Campbell (“Wichita Lineman”) and Chris Cornell (“Black Hole Sun”) were interesting left-field song choices, but felt slightly out of place, especially since they were presented without comment. Surely there are at least some vintage photos of the band members hanging out with Cornell that could have been displayed on the video screens?


Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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