ANZ Stadium, 10/02/17
We sent our most cynical writer to Guns N’ Roses, and he submitted this. Probably not the best idea…
When I was young, I learned of a band. A band who preached of a lost city where the local flora is verdant and the womanly splendour is much more aesthetically pleasing than other locations. They told tales of dense tropical rain-forestry overflowing with such jovial activities that it would quite literally leave you in a praying position.
Then, at my ripe old age of 9, there were rumblings afoot of an additional masterpiece to add to the canon. It was to be called Chinese Democracy.
But alas, the prophecy was not fulfilled within the allocated time handed down by the gods of Geffen. Time and time again we were taunted with the return of what the prodigal son, Axl Rose, said would be the best album ever made. I was ready, my ears were ready. My body was ready. And then, promises from the great deities, Rolling Stone, MTV and the New York Times all fell by the wayside. Our gods had deserted us.
Then, when I had reached the ripe old age of 18 and just about denounced the church of rock and begun to be persuaded by other faiths, like psych rock and indie rock , the prophecy was fulfilled! Chinese Democracy arrived. And despite what heathens believe, it was the greatest album ever made.
Flash forward to February 2017 when I finally got the chance to see all the titans come together in a geographically convenient location for me, known as the ANZ Stadium, I was looking forward to seeing a wide selection of songs from literally, THE GREATEST ALBUM EVER MADE!
At first, it was unsurprising that they would come out and play two “old testament” songs like ‘It’s So Easy’ and ‘Mr. Brownstone’ from Appetite For Destruction. If you’re handing down the 10 Commandments, you don’t start with the big ones like ‘thou shalt not kill’, you ease into it with smaller ones like ‘do not worship false idols’ – you know, bush league stuff.
Then there it was, the title track, Chinese Democracy. The heavens opened up, I felt the breath of God. Or maybe it was just a heavy sigh of boredom from everyone around me. It’s hard to tell.
As the show went on I noticed a severe underrepresentation of their new and holy material. It was almost as if some members of the band on stage didn’t care so much for the album their brother Axl so carefully and painstakingly constructed…
Aside from my preoccupation with hearing the greatest album ever made, represented in a live context, the highlight of the show was by far the appearance of fellow prophet from the AC/DC denomination of our church, Angus Young. Despite being older than dirt at this stage, Angus looked every bit in his prime and in all honesty it was truly amazing so see such a legend stand amongst titans and show them why he’s the king. Props to the guys for playing two slightly lesser known tracks, ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ and ‘Riff Raff’.
To see Richard Fortus and Slash have a dueling electric guitar duet on ‘Wish You Were Here’ by Pink Floyd was also quite an experience for any rock fan, no matter how sarcastic and cynical he may come across in his writings.
Shortly after this religious cameo, during ‘This I Love’ from the sacred text of Chinese Democracy, it was great to see so many fans sit down in their seats so they could fully take in the beauty that was about to wash over them. It was then I noted for the first time that the look of boredom could easily be confused with deep concentration. I’d never noticed that before.
At the end of the day, there’s no real need for me to write a blow by blow of this show because, even if you don’t know too much about Guns N’ Roses and weren’t at the show, you already know exactly what happened. There were fireworks, there were extended pentatonic guitar solos from Slash and then there were also the many, many hits that we all know and love. I’m talking ‘Paradise City’, ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ and, of course, ‘November Rain’. But they didn’t play ‘Scraped’.
Disclaimer: For the record, the rest of us are big Slash fans. Here’s your proof.