"... There they were, in all their rock'n'roll glory, Guns N' F'N Roses."
On the last stop of their Australian tour the (mostly) reunited and certainly rejuvenated Guns N' Roses turned an unseasonably chilly night into a smoking hot trip down memory lane. Looking around at the huge crowd you'd be forgiven for thinking there must have been a T-shirt giveaway with every ticket sold. Not so: the merch stands were 20 and 30 deep with punters eager to part with their hard-earned dosh for a souvenir of the day many never thought would come. Shirts were worn in all shapes and sizes, from XS for the earmuff-wearing ten-year-olds to the XXXL for 50-somethings with a bit of extra girth.
Thoughts of having to wait hours and hours for the band to finally show — and possibly ducking back to the bar for another overpriced bourbon — were quickly dispelled as the GNR logo became animated on the huge video screens and sounded off the first warning shots. And then there they were, in all their rock'n'roll glory, Guns N' F'N Roses exploding into Domain Stadium at the very un-rock'n'roll time of 7.45pm.
The adoring Perth crowd avoided the ignominy of being referred to as Sydney — a point humorously made by Rose towards the end of the set. I for one was slightly disappointed that instrumental tech McBob didn't go full Spinal Tap and come out with "Hello Cleveland!"
But we were in Perth, final stop on the Australian Not In This Lifetime tour, and what better way to kick it off than with the classic It's So Easy before powering straight into Mr Brownstone? From the first huge guitar riff, Gunners easily had the Perth crowd on their feet. With a set coming in at just under three hours and consisting of 26 songs, there was going to be just about something for everyone.
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What was unexpected was Axl Rose handing vocal duties to Duff McKagan, giving the bass player time to shine with for a short, sharp and very loud rendition of The Misfits' Attitude.
After McKagan's time in the spotlight it was back to Rose. A glitch with his microphone meant that for a minute or more, we could see him giving it his all but couldn't hear a thing. There seemed to be a complete lack of urgency from the sound engineer or the roadies, until a flurry of activity saw two eager helpers run across the stage and switch the mic back on. "Are you shitting me?" exclaimed the no longer mute (and infamously volatile) frontman. But if he was upset he didn't outwardly show it, then apologised to the faithful for the interruption and was back into full voice for Civil War.
Decked out in his trademark top hat and black leather, Slash oozed cool. He took centre stage for a bluesy, sexy, shredding solo and as he was about to finish, a flick of the switch on his Les Paul launched possibly one of the most recognisable intros in rock. Those who'd screamed out the song title since the beginning of the show were rewarded with Sweet Child O' Mine. The hits kept rolling — as did the covers — including rhythm guitarist Richard Fortus joining Slash for an interesting instrumental take on Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here.
By the time the three-song encore had come and gone all that was left was a stadium full of very satisfied punters.