W
e live in an era of musical comebacks and some of the
biggest bands of the 80s are reformed and taking us down
memory lane. Guns n Roses accrued a vast global fan base
in their day, as they were not quite heavy metal, yet could bring hard
rock to the masses. And the masses were out in force at the du Arena
on Yas Island in AbuDhabi, as ‘GnR’ performed as part of the duWorld
Music Festival in association with Samsung.
Infamous front man Axl Rose allayed fears about his notorious habit
for coming on stage hours late, and came out just a quarter of an hour
after the scheduled 9pm start. Rose is the only founding member of
the group, and the original five-piece have grown to an eight-man line
up. It’s the same members as when they last played Abu Dhabi in
December 2010 and includes, DJ Ashba, Dizzy Reed, Tommy Stinson,
Richard Fortus, Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal, Chris Pitman and Frank
Ferrer.
The 28-song show was a great success and the capacity crowd at the
arena roared its approval at hearing all time classics such as ‘Sweet
Child OMine’ and ‘Welcome to the Jungle’. The band also showcased
a series of cover versions that read like an elite list of some of the
century’s best-loved bands. The audience went crazy for Led
Zeppelin’s ‘No Quarter’, Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’, the
Bob Dylan classic ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ and a pounding
version of ‘The Seeker’ by The Who. One of the high points of the
evening was another cover, this time it was the Paul McCartney
penned classic, ‘Live and Let Die’, originally performed by Wings.
Guns n Roses took advantage of the dramatic nature of this song and
incorporated a fireworks extravaganza that went off in time to the
music and thrilled the fans.
He may be an aging rocker but Axl Rose still gave this performance 100
per cent, rallying his band members behind him as he ran from each
end of the stage, screeching and hollering his clutch of classic songs
amongst some newer, lesser known material. The energy was there as
was the showmanship, including a bunch of costume changes and solo
section at the piano to bring in the epic ballad ‘November Rain’.
The guitarist DJ Ashba, who replaces Slash, also scored well with his
solo performance, playing his own composition “Mi Amor’, Spanish
for ‘My Love’. It will have been a daunting task to fill the shoes of Slash,
but Ashba does it well and is popular with the audience as he interacts
with the front rows, beckoning them to join in and sing along.
The band play for almost two-and-a-half hours, with Axl Rose
occasionally disappearing while the band indulges in extended jams
and solos. They plough through the top tracks from their main albums,
including ‘Chinese Democracy’, ‘Use Your Illusion I &II’ and of course
the classic debut album ‘Appetite for Destruction’ that was released in
1987.
Under a glowing moon the heat is really turned up for the
encore, and they close the evening with the monumental hit ‘Paradise
City’ – it couldn’t have been a more appropriate title for Abu Dhabi.
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