Where: Olympic Stadium, London
Whenever a classic band decide to reunite or reform, whether it’s for another stint or for a one-time concert, there’s a lot of expectations piled onto their performance. Do they still have the stage presence they used to have? Can they still make their beloved songs kick ass? Is that magic from their heyday still alive? Fans are desperate for answers. So imagine the anticipation for the Not In This Lifetime tour, the set of reunion shows by Guns N’ Roses. The UK performance took place in the Olympic Stadium in London last week, allowing the iconic group to return to their stadium rock roots.
As the sea of dots representing loyal fans begin crowding the stage and the last few stragglers take their seats, anticipation builds in the thousands-strong audience thanks to the powerful guitar intro of ‘It’s So Easy’. The track is a brilliant way to kick off the show and establish the hard-rocking stadium atmosphere, and gets the crowd singing along immediately (not “welcoming” the metalheads with ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ still seems like a missed opportunity, but you can’t have everything!). This is followed with another fan favourite ‘Mr. Brownstone’, emulating the background of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll that the band have been surrounded by over their career.
When you’ve got a track record of albums as impressive as GnR, there’s plenty of room for some less well-known tracks. This includes singles from their most recent release Chinese Democracy, such as ‘Better’ and ‘This I Love’. These in particular manage to delight hardcore fans and impress newcomers before being followed respectively by ‘Live And Let Die’ and ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’; the latter being one of the most popular with the crowd, with everyone in our area of the stadium headbanging to the riotous solos of guitarist Slash.
Despite the rough-edged rock sound found on many of the songs, the performance has a more sombre tone than you might expect from a Guns ‘N’ Roses performance. The recent death of Chris Cornell, marked with a performance of ‘Black Hole Sun‘, and the rendition of metal-ballad ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door’ is lengthened, dedicated to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire of less than a fortnight earlier.
This sincerity combined with the heavy -hitting, crowd-pleasing version of the final song ‘Nightrain‘ show the versatility of the band and how they’ve tried their damndest to make this performance one the fans will never forget.