The Melbourne concert did not start off as you would expect. Booing is generally the opposite reaction that you wish to encourage. You will get that regardless of how much the crowd is excited to see you if you call Melbourne, Sydney. There was also an homage to Kiss’ “you wanted the best”, with “but their stuck in traffic”. I laughed as the Kiss and music nerd I am.
This was my first MCG concert and judging by the AFL Grand Final performances, lets say I was a little concerned for sound quality. Wolfmother opened and their overly crunchy distortion blurred the music and sounded average. I have seen them before and know they are great live, so I assumed that it was the MCG sound design. Guns ‘n’ Roses came out and they showed why some bands are born to play stadiums.
The three original members were accompanied on stage but their touring band. Dizzy Reed who I only consider touring band because he is not a GNR big three. I don’t have an ear for the keyboard but when he was given the spotlight he shone. Richard Fortus I have seen before and he is a great guitarist and so too he was tonight. Frank Ferrer is an amazing drummer, again I have seen him play before. As a fellow drummer there are certain musicians you never tire of seeing and he is one of them. Melissa Reese was ok, but she looked like she should be in a pop band. It was really a mismatch, great backing vocals though.
Then there were three:
Axl Rose has an amazing voice and stage presence. There seems to be two camps in the GNR fan base, Axl or Slash. I fall into the Axl camp. His performance was energetic and his vocals powerful. When I’d seem him in the Axl and the back up band days he was the focus, he played the band mate tonight. For all the eccentricities he is one of the greatest voices and performers of our time.
Duff McKagan and his bass was what my night was missing. The low tone monster elevated the songs to pure aggression. I’ve heard Axl and these songs before but they are nothing without that bass. His vocals on Attitude (Misfits cover) was killer and I hope he’ll be bringing out some new solo stuff too.
Slash the man, the machine, the hat….As I mentioned before I was in the Axl camp but seeing GNR live with Slash it will never be good enough without him. I have not appreciated Slash for all his talent and for that I atone. He plays GNR songs like no other, the solos more intricate the anthems more atmospheric. He even added to the Chinese Democracy songs, an album that people should listen too. He almost made my short attention span last the length of his solos, but not quite. The only man to keep me hooked all the way through a 20 min solo was…
Angus Fuckin’ Young I was hoping since I heard he was at Sydney that he would come to Melbourne. When he was announced the crowd went absolutely mental and rightly so. We were in the presence of royalty for two sweet songs: Whole Lotta Rosie and Riff Raff. I wanted so bad to see AC/DC with Axl and this was the next best thing.
If you ever get the chance to see Angus Young live do it!
The set list was crafted with the stadium show in mind, they came out to It’s So Easy and there was a feeling that the hype surrounding the reforming was worth it. The pushed us with Mr Brownstone and Chinese Democracy to a rock induced delreium.
Welcome to the Jungle made the stadium pulsate, they teased at the intro riff, tickling the audiences anticipation. Then it exploded and if you closed your eyes and ignored the middle-aged men it felt like the 80’s and I was searching for my bandana.
They calmed down a touch from there and starting with Chinese Democracy’s Better. At this point I was thankful for the respite as my blood pressure had hit an all time high. With an aneurysm coming on I sat back and took a breath, watching what so many Hard Rock bands couldn’t do: create captivating and atmospheric stadium ballads.
They roared back with Rocket Queen and You Could be Mine, the change in pace threw the audience back into drive. The cover of the Misfits Attitude left me wondering why we hadn’t heard more solo stuff from Duff. It was punk and I went home to listen to his 1993 Believe in Me and you should too.
The tempo slowed again this time a little darker with This I Love and Civil War. The latter has not lost its message in all these years. Then came the guitar solos, they were cool but they are guitar wanking. Those who are guitarist love it, the rest sit there impressed but distracted.
The song that electrified the crowd the most and will forever be the GNR song was SWEET CHILD OF MINE. If you were not head banging along to this then you should get your pulse checked. This was the pinnacle of the show.
Nope, then came the one and only Angus Young. An energy level that I thought couldn’t be lifted was surpassed. Through Whole Lotta Rosie and Riff Raff the stadium thumped. We didn’t want him to leave, that man is a legend.
November Rain and Knocking on Heavens Door provided a breather for what up until this point could only be described as an onslaught. November Rain is comically often heard at weddings because the music conveys such intense emotion. If you are getting married, don’t read the lyrics.
Night train took the main show to an explosive end. The crowd by this point was red-faced and smiling. We knew the encore was coming and one song sat out in the atmosphere.
The encore came back with Don’t Cry and the one we were all waiting for Paradise City which was sadly whistle absent. That didn’t matter though the crowd was up and exploding. The fireworks, which up until this point were lacking, lit up the sky and we knew we were in paradise city, Melbourne not Sydney.
Any doubt that they needed to reform was but to bed. My doubts about Slash were unfounded and his status as one of the greatest guitarists confirmed. Axl was the amazing performer he was born to be, better having the band around him. Duff is great, all hail Duff.
Adelaide and Perth prepare to be rocked, I hope you get Angus.
Rating: Not in this life time