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Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 30, 2017    
 
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Guns N' Roses - Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium, London (UK) - 16 June 2017

Bowling onto the stage bang on time at 7.45pm, Axl Rose caught a lot of the crowd unawares as they were not expecting him to be punctual and many were still trying to get into the stadium, unaware that since working with the boys from AC/DC rose has seemingly changed his ways. He has also lost quite a bit of weight and seems a little happier perhaps. There seem to be a lot of backing tapes involved in opener 'It's So Easy', however it is clear by second song 'Mr Brownstone' when alternating between Baritone and Falsetto that Rose is allowing the crowd to hear his real voice. It's changed since the old days and while he can still hit the high notes when he tries, and particularly when he lets himself get into the moment which happens more as the set moves along, he plays it safe at first with a lot of lower register notes and seeming to hold back on his mid-range as if saving his voice. However, as we get into 'Sweet Child O' Mine', 'November Rain' and 'Night Train' he begins to realise things are going well, he lets rip and in his red bandana, contrasted with his red hair and blue eyes, he finally shows us the fire within – the Rose of old – before the concert is over. By the lines "I need you" in 'Patience', he's nailing it irreplaceably. It's flawed genius, but it's all the sweeter when Rose keeps us guessing whether he will pull the rabbit out of the hat. There are enough streaks of brilliance tonight to keep London happy.

There's no sign of animosity between the band, although there's very little interaction on stage, with Duff McKagan seemingly ignoring Rose when he does make one attempt to cosy up. Maybe he noticed, like me, that it may not have been the best thing for Rose to do to ask the crowd not to throw stuff just before McKagan was about to take lead vocal on the Misfits cover 'Attitude'. Fortunately, it's not a night for reverse psychology and no missiles go McKagan's way. With his Prince logo guitar and punk vocals, McKagan injects a sense of the real world into the band.

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The iconic sight of Slash in his top hat with his guitar aloft against a red background during 'Chinese Democracy' is nothing short of amazing and when it comes to his craft he did not let us down. He uses lots of effects and brings out a dizzying array of guitars, ultimately he shows everyone exactly why he is considered a living legend. He gives us distorted garage guitar, warm rounded tones, playing his guitar like a bass, touches of Jazz and Blues, slide guitar, Classically-influenced scales up and down the neck, mind-bendingly fast solos with sober precision, touches of Jimi Hendrix-influenced shredding and, of course, those inimitable solos on 'Sweet Child O' Mine'. He plays that song and the whole world seems right again in a moment.

The other high point for me is 'Live And Let Die' which is really suited to an arena environment and pyro overload. Since this is Guns N' Roses 2017 there's no point trying to wind the clock back to 1987 and the cannons and over the top production is what it is about today. All in all, it's a glossy show with high resolution graphics and interesting backdrops of jellyfish, skeletons in coital positions and the iconic GN'R logo. There's no doubt it leaves an impression.

Most of the crowd, especially the millennials who never got a chance to see it before, were just simply bowled over by the chance to see the phenomena of Rose playing with Slash and McKagan. It wasn't a perfect show, Rose needed time to get into his groove across a performance, but the unpredictability kept things exciting and I didn't hear a single complaint.

Dawn Osborne


Guns N Roses Live London

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