16 June 2017 (gig)
19 June 2017
'Not in this lifetime.' Axl Rose's infamous response back in 2012 to the inevitable question of reuniting the original GNR line up. How things can change. Five years on, I and seventy thousand others have a once in the lifetime opportunity to witness just that.
The atmosphere in East London is electric. Nearby pubs and bars filled with fans sporting bandanas and black top hats.
Twenty years of silence between the pair following their execrable breakup, Axl and Slash have put any differences to one side and share the same stage once again. Accompanied by Duff McKagan on bass and Dizzy Reed on the keys, GNR are well and truly back.
Bang on time, as it hits 7:45pm the band appear and are greeted by a deafening noise. For the opening three tracks we are taken back to 1987 and the highlife of Hollywood. They storm straight into 'It's So Easy', 'Mr.Brownstone' and the classic 'Welcome to the Jungle' all taken from their iconic debut; Appetite For Destruction. They sound as tight as ever.
Axl's mic is seemingly turned up a notch and we get to hear him in full flow. As energetic as ever, 'Estranged', 'You Could Be Mine' and one of the real highlights, 'Civil War' are delivered sublimely. 'What's so civil bout war anyway?'. Never a truer lyric written and undoubtedly all too relevant in this day and age. For a man of fifty five and having applied so much strain on his incredible vocals throughout the years, his voice remains very impressive. Some feat considering he somehow seems to posses four different voices.
Equally impressive if not even more so is Slash's astounding talent and ability to make his Les Paul sound so angelic. It's so easy and effortless as he decides to play some solos behind his back.
As 'Coma', taken from 1991's Use Your Illusion I album sounds, the crowd witness a memorable touch from Axl as he takes the time to introduce every band member. Foes no more, friends once again.
Naturally there will be cynics that see this reunion as a money grabbing trip down memory lane, full of nostalgia yet no real purpose. But I would suggest those cynics missed out on tickets. Nostalgic yes, money grabbing yes, but more significantly it's an historic moment in rock n roll history. Evidently there is nothing false about their rekindled friendship. After all, surely it would be nigh on impossible to spend two and half hours a night on stages in cities all over the world with people you dislike? In addition, with new material potentially on the horizon tonight could not be more relevant.
After a five minute guitar solo which Slash appears to play with his eyes closed, arguably one of the most recognised guitar riffs in history begins; 'Sweet Child O'Mine.' It's magic.
With the sun now down, Axl takes his seat at his grand piano as Slash takes centre stage, elevated slightly higher. Full of anticipation the crowd know full well what is to follow. Nine minutes of musical brilliance. 'November Rain' is performed flawlessly. An unmissable moment.
Bob Dylan's acoustic 'Knocking on Heavens Door' is up next. Slash, now armed with a double neck twelve and six string guitar, there's nothing acoustic about GNR's rendition. Quite the contrary in fact. After over two hours the stage vacates as they finish with 'Nightrain'. One of their earliest songs, written in reference to their favourite highly intoxicating beverage bought on Sunset Strip.
Upon their return to the stage, the encore includes 'Patience' which takes the tempo down and the fans up, as many rise on to friends shoulders. It's a beautiful view. 'Paradise City' concludes a blistering twenty seven song set. It's more than worth the wait.
You can't blow the roof of a stadium which doesn't have one, but tonight Guns N' Roses damn well tried.