Axl & Slash & Duff & Izzy & Steven.
This is Guns N’ Roses.
The bunch of dudes who took the stage last night at the O2 Arena in London next to Axl Rose was not Guns N’ Roses.
But I am stating the obvious, and nobody was expecting anything remotely close to the stellar line-up that recorded the best selling debut album of all time.
It was the 23rd of June 1993, I was 14 years old and Guns N’ Roses were wrapping up their 2-year-long tour that would lead to one of the most famous and talked-about break up in music history. That was the last time I saw Guns N’ Roses and two of the people previously mentioned were not even there anymore.
But what has remained now in 2012?
Axl Rose was surprisingly in shape, running around (not quite like the good ol’ days, but still..) all over the stage and showing off a fantastic voice that lately has been too much criticized and labelled as worn out. He could deliver the usual astonishing range of tones and give goose bumps at every single scream without struggling too much – apparently. Although his look has changed, no more tight shorts, no more kilt, no more combat boots, his rock and roll soul has not aged a bit. Still cocky, still primadonna, still 2 hours late, but still kicking ass on stage like it’s nobody’s business.
What about the rest of the band? To be honest they are all great musicians and each one of them nailed their performance adding freshness and that bit of modern rawness to the classic set-list. As soon as you get over DJ Ashba emo look, or Fortus sleazy savoir faire, Stinson punkish style, Bumblefoot peculiar beard, and Frank Ferrer mighty silhouette, you realize that these guys are really impressive and “ready to crash and burn”.  But still I cringed when I heard somebody else (respectfully) playing Sweet Child O’Mine’s  intro. Along with old gunner Dizzy Reed, who has been loyal to Axl since 1990, another piece of the even more original line up surprisingly showed up: Izzy Stradlin. He joined Axl & Co. to sing 14 Years (which GNR had not played live since 1991) and then just stayed on stage for You Could Be Mine, Dead Flowers, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, Nightrain and Paradise City. I believe that is the closest you can get to a full reunion in the presence of Mr.Rose.
Fireworks, defiant riffs, many different hats and t-shirts, sweat and tears, Axl and his band played a spectacular and brilliant show, but as you leave the arena you feel there was something missing. But Axl “ain’t got time to reminisce old novelties” and the crowd will always be there for him anyway. I know I will.


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