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Live Review – Guns N’ Roses – 30th June 2023 – BST Hyde Park, London, UK

5 min read
. @gunsnroses tore the metaphorical roof off of Hyde Park last night for another show in the @BSTHydePark series for 2023! Phenomenal!

Fresh from performing at this year’s much talked about Glastonbury Festival as the Saturday night Pyramid Stage headlining act, 80’s rock giants Guns N’ Roses arrived in Hyde Park last night to headline the 4th event of this years BST Hyde Park series.

After P!nks sold out shows last weekend and delivering some of pop music’s finest hits, it was the rock genres turn last night as heavyweights including The Darkness and The Pretenders helped warm up the 65,000k strong crowd that descended on the capitals biggest green space to welcome back the Appetite For Destruction and Use Your Illusion legends as part of the acts latest stomp around the globe.

Unfortunately, we missed the support acts due to day job commitments, but we made it to the park in time to catch the headliners make their Hyde Park debut at much earlier than the usual headliner time of 7.20pm; hurling themselves right into a lengthy almost 3-hour long set starting appropriately with their very first single, It’s So Easy from debut album, Appetite for Destruction and the crowd was very quicky strapped in for a very nostalgic ride.

The rock veterans, who are as known the world over for their hits like Paradise City, November Rain and Sweet Child O Mine as they are for their in-band disputes, received a lukewarm response for their Glastonbury performance. Those at home complained about front man Axl Roses vocals not being heard and many said the bands time had long expired, so it was with slight trepidation that we opted for a Friday night spent with the band. We were not let down in the slightest as the band, who ended up performing a solid 3 hour set, were on top form; particularly Axl with his iconic and distinctive vocals which powerfully rained over the crowd during riotous numbers like Reckless, Absurd – where he told the crowd he was “dedicating this song to things you might read”, and the more downtempo Wings cover, Live and Let Die, while equally iconic guitarist, Slash offered up some of the most incredible guitar work that we have ever seen including a mind-blowing solo leading up to Sweet Child O’ Mine during the centre of the set. It was also the stamina of the legendary frontman that had us mesmerized. At 61 years old, the singer dominated the Hyde Park stage with an energy that would challenge peers half his age. Even after a slip on stage after Bad Obsession thanks to a moment of rain, the singer was up on his feet, completely unfazed; afterwards telling the crowd, “I don’t want to jinx it but I hope I got all that slip sliding out of the way”.

At times it almost felt like the Slash show. The legendary guitarist is one of few band members of any band that is equally as prolific as their front man and it was evident why that was during the course of the whole show with powerful and nostalgic riffs being poured out from his signature Gibson. While Rose and Slash may have had their conflicts over the years, which ultimately resulted in the breakdown of the band and Slash joining Velvet Revolver during their downtime – a nod to that venture with the early inclusion of VR’s Slither – the strains of years past were nowhere to be seen at last night’s show as the pair seemed perfectly harmonious and in sync with one another’s performance – even during band introductions when Rose seemed almost gushing over Rose as he built the crowd up for an applause for his bandmate – and not even needing to mention his name. Instead, a playful yet almost competitive streak was evident between Slash and fellow guitarist Richard Fortis; both challenging each other’s guitar wielding skills in front of a 65,000 strong judging panel of fans. But there is no beating someone like Slash. Because, well, it’s Slash! One of the greatest guitarists in history!

 

Iconic radio juggernauts were interspersed with a plethora of deep cuts from the grandfathers of 80’s guitar rock like Rocket Queen and a nod to Slash’s side project, Velvet Revolver with the addition of Slither; accompanied by a menacing green snake on the enormous screens. In fact, it was the highly colourful visual element of the show that added to the experience of seeing the band play last night and make it a very memorable one. From start to end the band were lit up by extremely detailed and high-def images of skulls, aliens, or charging trucks behind them, lighting up the entire park and adding a eye-popping storyline to the songs being dished up by the bucketload.

Civil War was a tribute to the Ukrainians as blood soaked Ukrainian flags were cast up on the screens amid flashing images of war and Axl appearing on stage in a flag emblazoned t-shirt and army camouflage jacket while the highlight of the entire show came with the bands phenomenal performance of November Rain. With a burning candle appearing as the backdrop to the number and Slash positioning himself on the rise at the rear of the stage – almost like the cliff-side in the powerful music video for the song – Axl took his skills to the piano and the band delivered a stellar live rendition of the cinematic rock masterpiece – keeping the performance true in every way to the original recording. It was a powerful moment that had every single member of the crowd – most wearing Guns B’ Roses t-shirts – swaying to the piano and Slash’s impeccable guitar-work.

While more of a pop fan myself, I have always appreciated the likes of Gun’s N’ Roses and what they have done for the music industry as a whole. Their inspiration over newer artists can be easily heard and their iconic status continues to burn very bright some 40 years into their career. Last night was a truly incredible night of some of the best rock performances we have seen in many years.

Setlist:
It’s So Easy
Bad Obsession
Chinese Democracy
Slither (Velvet Revolver cover)
Mr. Brownstone
Welcome to the Jungle (Link Wray’s “Rumble” intro)
Reckless Life
Double Talkin’ Jive
Pretty Tied Up
Hard Skool
Absurd
Estranged
Live and Let Die (Wings cover)
Rocket Queen
Down on the Farm (UK Subs cover)
You Could Be Mine
T.V. Eye (The Stooges cover) (Duff on lead vocals)
Anything Goes
Civil War (Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child”… more )
Slash Guitar Solo
Sweet Child o’ Mine
November Rain
Patience
Coma
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan cover)
Nightrain
Don’t Cry
Paradise City