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gunsnroses_gelsenkirchenVeltins Arena, Gelsenkirchen, Germany
12th June 2018
Guns n’ Roses - “Not In This Lifetime” Tour 2018 - Special Guests: Manic Street Preachers, The Pink Slips

This June of 2018 definitely is “Rock Giant Month” in Germany. Two days after the FOO FIGHTERS played their only headline stop of their “Concrete and Gold” tour in Hamburg, Germany, the good old GUNS N’ ROSES played a show in the VELTINS-Arena “auf Schalke”. The legendary band embarked on a giant world tour in 2016 and made history, as it was the 4th highest-grossing tour of all-time by December 2017.

GUNS N’ ROSES seemingly did not want to settle for 4th place (or they have some very expensive rehab places to return to), so the band decided to extend their tour well into 2018, adding also four tour stops in Germany, though it is estimated their tour has already raked in 500 million USD at the start of 2018. At the Veltins Arena, around 41,000 fans heeded the call to see the heroes of their school times again, and to see if they can still remember the lyrics of all-time classics like ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, ‘Welcome to The Jungle’, or ‘Paradise City’. Although the large stadium was not sold out, the extreme traffic around Gelsenkirchen (rain and rush hour are a bad combination in the Ruhr area) prevented me from arriving in time for the support acts. The journey of 40 kilometres took three hours instead of one, so I missed the special guests, THE PINK SLIPS and MANIC STREET PREACHERS (which I severely regret) as well as the first 15 minutes of the set of GUNS N’ ROSES.

When it comes to hard rock history, there is simply no way to avoid GUNS N’ROSES, the legendary band which was formed in Los Angeles, California in 1985, as they simply reside in a league of their own. Over 100 million records sold speak for themselves. www.gunsnroses.com / https://www.facebook.com/gunsnroses.

Music & Performance
Around a quarter to 8 pm I joined the crowd inside the “cozy” Veltins Arena (the roof of the giant stadium was closed, as the weather looked pretty gloomy) to watch the rest of the song ‘Welcome to the Jungle’. Two things were immediately clear. First: Visually, the band made a Rock star worthy impression by playing on a huge stage with three giant video screens and the occasional banger/ fireworks, which accentuated the songs nicely. Second, the sound mix was pretty rough, and Axl’s voice has seen the best of its days. But if you did not let the latter fact between you and a good show, as the majority of the 40,000 people did, you came to the right place. Certainly, there was no denying that the past 25 years have taken a toll on the band (as they did on everyone), and certainly Axl Rose has grown bigger, and most notably - Slash was missing the obligatory cigarette while performing his signature guitar solos. However, the band should have invested a fraction of their tour’s proceeds to hire a sound crew capable of approaching the job in a more nuanced way.

Slash’s guitar dominated everything, and Axl’s voice kept oscillating between shrill and inaudible, which made you wonder sometimes, which song was on (by the way: Props go out to the guys on setlist.fm, who edited the setlist entry online near real-time). But most arguably, most people came to here for a good show, and not good (quality) music. So, the band delivered a massive, three-hour setlist, which was also expanded compared to the (sound-wise) disastrous Berlin performance. Despite the essential band “best-of” hits, such as ‘You could be mine’, ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, and ‘November Rain’, the set list also featured lesser known gems from the band’s repertoire, such as ‘Coma’, ‘Nighttrain’, or the new release ‘Shadow of your Love’. But it did not stop here. The band threw in two hands full of cover versions, and here not only the usual suspects, such as ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’, or ‘Live and Let Die’, but also nods to their former support band SOUNDGARDEN (‘Black Hole Sun’ for those who remember back in 1992), or the PINK FLOYD cover ‘Wish you were here’, which was delivered as an instrumental guitar duet, sending shivers down the spine of every music lover.

That being said, there was clearly some water left to spill into the wine. First, the band members did not act like a band on-stage, they more behaved like stage actors. Axl threw on different hats and different (slightly sexist) print T-Shirts, which complemented his signature look of the ripped jeans with the stuffed-in flannel shirt and tons of jewellery. Slash operated his guitar like the god he undoubtedly is and took the occasional run from one side of the stage to the other, but what was missing was some sense of unity and coherence. Second, the band kind of dragged on certain instrumental sections into seemingly endless passages, clearly to give singer Axl the chance to disappear back stage and do whatever he had to do to refresh his flailing voice. Third, the bands tempo erred on the slower side. So those people looking to work up some sweaty action in the mosh pit were clearly in the wrong place.

Summarizing, it may be time to take the tour’s motto “Not in this lifetime” seriously, and hope that Axl and his band members can thrive on their hard-earned tour proceeds long enough, so they do not have to return to touring again and enjoy their well-earned retirement status instead. And if they do choose to return, they should spend more on their sound crew at the mixers and hire some real professionals instead. You might wonder why you (again) see no pictures of the show in our article. The reason is that there was (again) a photo contract for the show, being presented by the band’s management to the photographers, our magazine refused to sign since the conditions were not suitable. So, we do not present you any photographs of the evening here. Please blame the band an/or their management for this!

Setlist
01. Introduction (Presentation)
02. It’s So Easy
03. Mr. Brownstone
04. Chinese Democracy
05. Welcome to the Jungle
06. Double Talkin’ Jive
07. Better
08. Estranged
09. Live and Let Die (Wings cover)
10. Slither (Velvet Revolver cover)
11. Rocket Queen
12. Shadow of Your Love (Hollywood Rose cover)
13. You Could Be Mine
14. New Rose (The Damned cover) (“You Can’t Put Your Arms…”)
15. This I Love
16. Civil War (followed by band introductions)
17. Slash Guitar Solo (incl. “Johnny B. Goode”)
18. Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather - Nino Rota cover)
19. Sweet Child O’ Mine
20. Used to Love Her
21. Coma
22. Wichita Lineman (Jimmy Webb cover)
23. Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd cover)
24. November Rain (“Layla” intro with Axl on grand piano)
25. Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden cover)
26. Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan cover)
27. Nightrain
---
28. Don’t Cry (“Melissa” intro)
29. Yesterdays
30. The Seeker (The Who cover)
31. Paradise City
32. You Know My Name (Chris Cornell song - from tape)

Rating
Music: 8
Performance: 8
Sound: 6
Light: 10
Total: 8 / 10 

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