Support: Thin Lizzy / Vengeance & The Panther Queen
"As you may have heard I had a little accident. I'm learning what I can and can't do. I hope you don't mind me moving less than usual, although I'm probably moving a whole lot more than I was the last time I was here…" Axl (17/05/12 - Dublin)
Ok was I really going to do this again? Just 20 months since their disastrous appearance at this very venue I was here again to see Axl Rose and Guns n Roses. Was I mad? Some of my friends thought so as not only was I going to go through this again but I was flying solo as well. I couldn't persuade any of my friends that it would be worth the price of a ticket. In truth I think some of them wouldn't have come tonight even if it was free; indeed I myself swore that I wouldn’t bother with Guns again…I really felt let down back in September 2010. However tonight’s line up was a crowd pleasing one and a very Irish crowd pleasing one at that. With Thin Lizzy as the main support and up and coming Irish act Vengeance & The Panther Queen on first then maybe a few bridges were been built...
I made sure to be at the 02 in time for Thin Lizzy. Ok let’s face it, like GNR, this is not really Thin Lizzy. Lizzy without Phil Lynott is not really Lizzy. However with Brian Downey (original member), Scott Gorham and Darren Wharton in place this is a pretty fine version. Lead vocals are handled by Ricky Warwick who I have seen a few times down the years both as a solo artist and as lead singer of The Almighty. He has never disappointed and tonight he showed what a great front man he is. With songs like Jailbreak, a barnstorming Whiskey In The Jar, and of course Boys Are Back In Town it was a cracking way to get the crowd in high spirits.
Now for the wait…with Lizzy finishing around 9.20, I was expecting a 10pm start to the main event…however it was 10.20 before they came on stage…funnily enough pretty much the same time as they came on in 2010. The difference this time is that the crowd was in good humoured high spirits and I certainly didn’t detect any tension in the crowd, yet it was still a relief when Chinese Democracy finally started up. Love that song, the title track from the last album, which many overlooked, is a guitar heavy rock song of the highest order. I actually think the Democracy album is great, although yes, it is way too over produced. Next up was Welcome To The Jungle and now the bodies started jumping…no more so than me. It can look a little odd when you are on your own and start bouncing to every song…luckily the majority of the crowd were doing the same thing…including the 5 foot girl next to me whose toes I trod on once or twice. Apologies for that.
It’s So Easy, Brownstone, Sorry, Rocket Queen, Live and Let Die…what a start. Axl was in form and the crowd responded in kind. One downside for me was the amount of solos (at least 5 and a few jams), don’t get me wrong they were all good, in fact they were all excellent, including a Dizzy Reid piano solo of Baba O’Reilly. Therewas just too many of them. I guess it gives Axl the breaks he needs these days but yet he did look noticeable better than a few years ago. Pretty good for a 50 year old rocker in fact.
Sweet Child, November Rain, Better, Don’t Cry were all excellent but the standout section of the night started with a cracking cover of Whole Lot Of Rosie, a quite phenomenal Estranged and great versions of Knockin On Heaven's Door and Nightrain. Estranged especially was excellent and proved to me what vastly underrated musicians this version of Guns are.
Next up was the encore. By this time the clock was getting close to 1am and some had left. Axl never seems to care about such things though. The majority of people stayed however and were treated to a rare There Was A Time, a superb Civil War and of course the biggest classic of them all Paradise City.
City is a song that in 1989 introduced me to this great band. In fact they, along with the Bon Jovi, New Jersey era, laid the foundations for my love of rock and the book I am attempting to write (it will be finished one day…one day I tell ya). Queen was my first love but those two bands introduced me to the thrill of live music. There was nobody as exciting as Guns n Roses back then. Ok so I don’t quite get that thrill watching this version of the band and still maintain that vague hope of a 30th anniversary comeback tour but I realise that isn’t going to happen. Hell will be frozen by then.
My watch said 1.10am when the final note was played. Never been at a gig that late before. The body was aching; the sweat was rolling down; my face was as redder than Axl’s hair; and I was stinking. Who cares though. After 2 hours and 50 minutes of great music I had completely forgotten I was on my own. And yes Axl I agree, “thankyou for not throwing shit” was spot on.
In 2010 I thought Axl was struggling for fitness and at times for breath. Tonight I think the set was paced better. Yes those solos and jams meant he got the breaks but when he sang I was transported back to those days twenty years before. I'm delighted I came tonight. It has made me love Axl again. He is a one of the great rock frontmen. Yes a highly flawed one but a great front man nonetheless. Leaving aside the baggage there are few that come close to him even now.
Ticket: May 17th 2012
Ticket Price: €69.50