Those familiar with Guns N’ Roses’ history would be fully aware that the band had an appetite for destruction amongst themselves.
That was the reviewer’s main concern upon hearing back in 2016 that the “holy trinity” of Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan were getting back for a reunion. How long could they last?
Fast forward two years, and here is the band performing on our shores, against all odds, on a wet and rainy Wednesday night as part of its aptly titled Not In This Lifetime Tour at Sunway Lagoon’s Surf Beach, presented by Galaxy and GCOX.
After numerous lineup changes throughout their mean and lean years, the hard rock heavy hitters enjoyed a long-awaited appearance here, more than 30 years since angrily introducing itself to the world in 1985.
This current edition sees a well-oiled, professional, rock machine, ably led by Rose and complemented by six-string dazzler Slash, cool-as-you’d-like bassist McKagan, guitarist Richard Fortus, drummer Frank Ferrer, Dizzy Reed on pianos and keyboards and Melissa Reese on keyboards and synthesizers.
The seven-strong outfit took the willing crowd down memory lane as they ripped through a string of classics, beginning with a furious rendition of It’s So Easy.
No matter what the lineup of Guns N’ Roses has been at any point in their career, it has always been Axl Rose at the front and centre of the band.
The scarcely-believable 28-song set list was well-crafted to preserve and protect his voice for the 180-minute spectacle. He was close to his visceral best during Welcome To The Jungle and Don’t Cry, effortlessly switching from the hard to the heartfelt on the deeper cuts like Patience and Estranged.
He also paced himself with a slower amble, sans the frantic running from the days of yore.
Multiple solo moments from both Slash and Fortus kept the crowd from burning out too early.
Slash undoubtedly remains the fan favourite, but Fortus had plenty of moments to shine and prove himself as an equally masterful shredder, most notably during Rocket Queen and Soundgarden cover Black Hole Sun. It’s heartening to see Fortus rewarded for his loyalty during this tour, 16 years on since he first joined the band.
McKagan too had his moments, most notably when he took centre stage with the spirited cover of the Misfits’ Attitude.
Besides the usual hits like Sweet Child O’ Mine and November Rain, other notable songs performed with gusto were Coma, You Could Be Mine, Civil War, Double Talkin’ Jive and This I Love from their Chinese Democracy offering.
The wholesome performance climaxed with a confetti–laden rendition of Paradise City, sending the crowd home, dazed but sated.
But if the only criticism one can level at Guns N’ Roses circa 2018 is a lack of edginess that perhaps could have improved the show an iota, then this night has successfully defied nearly everyone’s expectations.
It’s so easy, indeed.