Guns N' Roses: Getting the band back together
They said hell would have to freeze over before they’d tour again … wait, no. That was the Eagles. We’re talking Guns N’ Roses here, and before Axl Rose invited Slash over for dinner in the spring of 2015, reunification was something that wasn’t going to happen in either of their lifetimes. “What’s clear is one of the two of us will die before a reunion,” Rose told Billboard in 2009, insinuating the fault fell on his former bandmate’s shoulders. In 2012, Slash had told Fox News in an interview, “It is not going to happen.”
The guitarist, who had last played with Guns N’ Roses on July 17, 1993, in Buenos Aires, must have really enjoyed dinner, because he’s onstage with Axl again and the Not in This Lifetime Tour is happening. It’s also shaping up to be one of the most successful tours of 2016-’17, with three-fifths of Guns N’ Roses’ classic lineup reunited for the first time since 1993. Founding member Duff McKagan, who had previously played with the band in 2014 as a temporary replacement for then-bassist Tommy Stinson, was on board, and drummer Steven Adler managed to keep time for a few shows despite a back injury that prevented him from joining full time.
Izzy Stradlin, Rose’s boyhood friend, was the only holdout from the Appetite for Destruction-era lineup. (According to a Sept. 8, 2016, tweet by Stradlin: “They didn’t want to split the loot equally. Simple as that.”) But the fans have Rose, Slash and McKagan all onstage again, and that’s more than good enough. The reunion kicked off with an April 2016 show at the Troubador in L.A., then Rose broke his leg before the band officially opened the tour with two shows at T-Mobile Arena.
He wound up singing while seated in a customized “throne” once used by a hobbled Dave Grohl, but the easily agitated Axl Rose of old appeared to be gone as he barely contained himself in his seat and received critical accolades for his vocal performance. The good reviews kept coming as Gun N’ Roses headlined Coachella, bringing Angus Young onstage to play AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie” and “Riff Raff.” They also played most of the covers that are included in current set lists. The Damned’s “New Rose,” Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun,” Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” the Misfits “Attitude” and Glenn Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman” have all been rendered in GNR fashion.
They’ve also been including Wings’ “Live and Let Die” and Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” longtime GNR staples that were recorded for Use Your Illusion I and II. Sets have been spanning the gamut of the band’s catalog, with “It’s So Easy” first on deck and “Paradise City” closing out the double-marathon concerts, which have been running for more than three hours and, uncharacteristically, starting nearly on time. The only wish unfulfilled for fans is that the classic lineup would record again. Maybe one more dinner at Axl’s house can lead to that happening.
T-Mobile Arena, 8 p.m. Nov. 17, starting at $64 plus tax and fee. 888.929.7849