What: Guns n Roses
Where: The O2, London
When: 14th October 2010
Is it Rock n Roll or is it arrogance? Guns n Roses have all the ingredients of a rock n roll band and in heaps. What Axl Rose has in total abundance though is a disregard for fans. His reputation preceeds him even for London Underground who were warning fans before the gig that it was likely to finish after the last train left the station. Scheduled to go on at 8:40 and not hitting the stage for a further hour, Axl did nothing to improve on his already dismal reputation for time-keeping.
The gig got going with a number of fireworks and explosions to fire up the disgruntled audience. Musically the gig didn’t really feel like it got going until a good cover of Wings “Live and let die” some eight songs in. This followed one of the many musical intermissions whilst Axl went off stage to change or whatever else it is that musicians do backstage after they’ve kept audiences waiting. This time the musical intermission was the James Bond theme.
Axl’s “costume” changes not only broke up the momentum of the gig, they also left isolated the assortment of musicians Axl has accumulated whilst trying to hold the name Guns n Roses together. I’ve stated my views many times before about what makes a band THE band and that whole controversy rears it’s ugly head with Axl and friends. His fall-out with ex guitarist Slash has been well documented and I could never see them reforming as the REAL Guns n Roses. What was surprising tonight was that we had a very rare appearance of one of the original band in bassist Duff McKagen. Duff joined Axl on stage for a few songs including another high point when they did a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Knocking on Heavens Door”. Axl led the audience on rousing chorus chants.
In a 30+ song set there far too many from “Chinese Democracy” and as a result some of the biggest lifts in the mood of the audience came from cover versions. One that unexpectedly did so was during one of Axl’s many vanishing acts when we had a rock version of “The Pink Panther Theme” played very well on electric guitar. One of the other good covers tonight was when Axl took to playing piano and gave a great rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the wall”. I would never have thought that Axl’s rock screech would have done this justice.
Duff’s addition brought the number of guitarists on stage to five, do they really need three lead guitarists to recreate the Guns n Roses sound? There were also two keyboard players. Do you hear much keyboard on “Sweet Child of Mine” or “Welcome to the Jungle”? Apparently Axl ran into Duff when he heard some guy playing music too loud down the end of his hotel corridor, I wonder if he’s just been in that situation too often and never let go of some of the musicians.
With a three hour set many of the audience left before the end, no doubt to catch trains or to meet pre-arranged lifts. I can’t believe Axl hasn’t by now noticed this trend and put it down to his own actions. He may come to work at 10pm but most in the real world need to be up with the sun on normal weekdays. His arrogant treatment of the audience shouldn’t be allowed and I admire venues who will pull the plug at curfew time. It will hurt at first and some fans will go home disappointed however in the long run we will all benefit. Either that or make the cost per minute after the curfew so painful that the management around Axl knock some sense into him. Overall good value for money with three hours of good rock, however when you take into account the additional costs of getting home around 1am it starts to look less attractive. Axl’s arrogance in relation to time and costume changes leaves a sour taste that spoils what was otherwise a good gig.
P.S. I Had the chance to experience Sky’s “backstage” bar tonight (which is available to Sky customers by pre-booking). There isn’t much seating inside the O2 so having a place to relax before and after a gig is a definate bonus and Sky’s area is much better than O2s Lounge.