Concert Review: Guns N’ Roses

The theme of the current Guns N' Roses tour is “Not in This Life-Time”: no one, not even the band members themselves, thought they would reunite. Millions of fans wanted to see the group back together again, but it seemed there was "nothing left to do, too many things were said”, to quote another famous rock band. So, when it was announced in 2016 that they would be playing The Troubadour, Coachella and proceeding on a worldwide tour, I was beyond excited for the prospect of a live performance. The question remained, however, whether they would make a stop in Montreal, after the infamous 1992 riots, where the Olympic Stadium was trashed by angry fans following shortened sets.

The arrival of this column is slightly delayed, because gathering my thoughts after such a powerful experience was a laborious task. Never in my life have I played so much air guitar. I sang every lyric of every song alongside equally committed friends, which made the experience all the more special. The magic of the event was palpable in the air: all of those present can surely speak to this shared sensation.

G n' R opened their set with back to back songs from the now 30 year old classic, "Appetite For Destruction", which got the crowd pumped for what would be 3 hours of nostalgia and rock n' roll. One hour into the concert and having played songs like "Rocket Queen", "Estranged", and "Live and Let Die", my 150 dollars was already well worth it. Axl Rose, the lead vocalist, was sounding better than he had in years. Duff Mckagen, the bass guitarist, was looking ripped and sounding electric on back-up vocals. His rendition of the song "Attitude" by the Misfits was accompanied by Slash on guitar, shredding riffs and solos way past the final note of this song, among others.   

"Welcome to the Jungle", "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "Patience" were of course crowd favourites to sing along to. Songs like "Nightrain", "November Rain", and "Civil War", however, went a little deeper and provided a fortuitous commentary on the current socio-political climate in North America. What I love about a Guns N' Roses concert, is that you never know what to expect. The combination of Impromptu jams like "Johnny B. Good", and cover songs like "A Whole Lot of Rosie", "Wish You Were Here", and "Layla", allowed the band to pay tribute to their influences, including Chuck Barry and Chris Cornell. A total of 30 songs were played: after the fireworks, and the last note of "Paradise City" was played, I felt the fatigue of a good butt-kicking. The concert was a steady stream of hard-core rock: no breaks, no personal monologues, just great music.  

The Guns N' Roses concert was a reunion on many levels. I waited 25 years to see them live; they waited 25 years to come back. I even reunited with friends I had not seen in over 20 years! The reunion of the greatest Rock N' roll band brought together thirty three thousand of their fans, joining to witness one of the greatness musical performance Montréal has ever seen.