A week on from headlining Glastonbury, Guns N’ Roses headed to BST Hyde Park for what promised to be an ambitious three-hour set in front of a 65,000-strong audience.
Axl Rose, Slash, Duff McKagan and the band enthusiastically stormed the Great Oak Stage, opening with Appetite for Destruction classic It’s So Easy.
However, during the second song Bad Obsession, the singer was walking backwards when he suddenly fell over backwards.
Nevertheless, the 61-year-old did recover quickly, running back and forth across the massive stage with impressive energy.
Yet despite his tenacity, the star’s croaking voice – which is naturally a baritone – really struggled with the dizzying heights expected for the vocals of much of Guns N’ Roses best known back catalogue.
Throughout the concert, graphics reminiscent of a Playstation 2 video game played behind the band with sci-fi images, skulls and crosses galore. Yet apart from that, there was a real lack of spectacle to Guns N’ Roses live, which just can’t compete with many of their peers who really put on a show – like The Rolling Stones’ BST Hyde Park triumph last year.
Meanwhile, the band’s choice to have a three-hour set with just a hand full of greatest hits across almost 40 years was certainly ambitious, but unwise. Especially when a couple of those favourites are covers anyway. The likes of Welcome to the Jungle, Sweet Child O’ Mine and Live and Let Die would occasionally wake up the audience, which even right at the front of the stage lacked much signs of energy or true enjoyment.
Tragically about halfway through the rock band’s three-hour stage time, some of the crowd seemed to have had enough as not everyone stuck around in some fantastic standing spots right near the action. Nevertheless, amid the self-indulgent length, there were a number of fantastic moments that saved this review from being two stars.
We have to admire Axl’s positivity and enthusiasm throughout, but the real star was Slash whose legendary guitar solos really are a joy to behold live; the rock legend regularly leaning back almost as though in a trance. Yet around two and half hours in it became unclear what kind of ending exactly Guns N’ Roses were building to.
November Rain and Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door came and went before the mood became energetic again with the likes of Nighttrain until, finally, we reached an excellent rendition of Paradise City. However, this was only after Axl told the crowd they weren’t going to bother with the traditional walking off and being called back on for an encore due to the little time left at this overstuffed concert, at risk of having the lights and power shut off.
As a result, this botched conclusion ended up confusing the audience who thought maybe there would be another encore, which just ended up being a curtain call bow and a handstand from Slash. A muddled concert with lots of problems for sure, but there was the occasional brilliance that just about made the experience of seeing Guns N’ Roses live worth it.