Guns N’ Roses – Western Springs Stadium February 4, 2017

Unlike in Wellington, the gates opened and the sun shone as over 50,000 Guns n’ Roses fans streamed into Auckland’s Western Springs Stadium. And also unlike Wellington, the band actually showed up on time, much to the shock and amazement of all who were present.

Yes, just as the sun dipped below the top of the stage, making visibility possible for those of us sitting in the grandstand, the Looney Tunes music reverberated around the stadium and before we knew it Axl, Slash, Duff and the rest of the band were on stage, cranking out It’s So Easy.

I’ll admit to being a bit ambivalent about seeing Guns n’ Roses as for me much of the lustre of their legacy has dissipated over the last 25 years due to all the shenanigans with Axl and his antics, the whole Chinese Democracy debacle, etc. But still as the three original members took the stage, I must admit to getting caught up in the moment…adrenalin was indeed running high…which is the effect great rock and roll should have on the body.

So, are Guns ‘n Roses a great rock and roll band now? There’s little argument that they were in their original configuration thirty years ago when they came along and seemingly single-handedly re-invigorated a seriously lame scene with Appetite For Destruction. For many of us who had given up hope that authentic, gritty rock music, that actually sounded dangerous, would ever be made again amid the crap poseurs such as Motley Crue, Ratt, Poison, Skid Row and their ilk were making, GnR arrived like avenging angels, wiping out all that came before them.

That moment, when they seemed like a band of brothers, united in their mission to save rock and roll and have one hell of a good time along the way, seems like an eternity ago.

But here they are.

I suppose the biggest difference now is that they no longer seem like a band of brothers. Adler and Izzy and one can only speculate on the motivation behind Slash and Duff’s decision to share the stage once again with Axl.

But there they are.

The set list is pretty much the same as has been trotted out earlier and the adrenalin rush quickly subsides after the first few songs.

One thing is immediately clear…Slash is in top form, ready, willing and extremely able to crank out one spine tingling solo after another. Just fifteen or twenty minutes into a set that will last almost three hours and it is obvious that Slash is easily “Man Of The Match”.

Axl, on the other hand has his ups and downs.

Physically, he is not the same performer he was 25 years ago…a lithe body shimmying against his mic stand, making the little girls swoon.

But he seems to be enjoying himself.

Vocally, his voice gets stronger as the evening progresses, holding up much better during the rockers than the ballads. This I Love was especially painful to hear, but then Slash arrived with his double neck axe and saved the day with his wah wah-infused solo during Civil War.

The set was full of covers…tributes, I suppose, to bands of the 70s who made a mark on Axl and company as so we heard snippets or full blown versions of tunes from Pink Floyd, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Derek & The Dominos, Johnny Thunders, The Misfits, Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney.

For me, the high point was undoubtedly Sweet Child O’ Mine…it was rendered perfectly and exquisitely by all involved.

So, like their brief career as a band, in its original configuration, Guns ‘n Roses’ show was full of highs and lows.

But the highs made up for the lows, and despite the length of the show, they were rarely, if ever, boring. And thanks to Slash, at times, they sounded like what they once were, a great rock and roll band.

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Megan Moss courtesy


Guns ‘n Roses set list:

  1. It’s So Easy
  2. Mr Brownstone
  3. Chinese Democracy
  4. Welcome To The Jungle
  5. Double Talkin’ Jive
  6. Better
  7. Estranged
  8. Live And Let Die
  9. Rocket Queen
  10. You Could Be Mine
  11. You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory/Attitude
  12. This I Love
  13. Civil War
  14. Coma
  15. Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather)
  16. Sweet Child O’ Mine
  17. Yesterdays
  18. My Michelle
  19. Wish You Were Here
  20. November Rain/Layla
  21. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
  22. Nightrain
  23. Sorry
  24. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You/Don’t Cry
  25. The Seeker
  26. Paradise City