The first time I heard the stomp of ‘Paradise City’ was the moment I thought this rock and roll stuff might be for me. It was a long walk round to cementing that opinion, with a little detour through emo, but it turned out to be a good assumption and the rest of my life was shaped. Yet, for the last few years, I have not given a shit about Guns ‘N’ Roses. I have no time for Axl’s crap and while I still listen to the music, Chinese Democracy being the obvious exception because who can be arsed, the idea of them as a live entity held nothing for me. Because again, who can be arsed?
And yet 2016 kicks off with the news that this year, Slash, Duff and Axl will hit the road in the closest we have come to a classic G’N’R reunion in my gig going lifetime. Now, there are obvious problems with this. For one thing, where the fuck is Izzy? But perhaps even more importantly, can Axl do it?
Once upon a time, Axl Rose was the baddest fucker on the planet. He was a cunt of a human being who could sing like a demon and that was a huge part of why G’N’R were great. Anyone who has seen Myles Kennedy belt out those songs with Slash will tell you that while he sounds amazing, there’s something missing, and the truth is it’s just because he’s too nice. But Axl Rose in 2016 isn’t that man anymore. Oh, I’m sure he’s still a cunt. But he’s always out of shape and has spent the last God knows how long having his ego stroked by everyone he knows.
Now I’m not one to judge someone’s weight, I’m not exactly a skinny prick myself, but the truth is to pull off that show you need to be in shape. To sing the way Axl sings, it requires one hell of a lung capacity. If you’ve seen recent videos of Axl, you’ll know that is long gone.
However, it’s easy to pick on Axl, but the truth is he’s not the only one from that band who has lost their way a bit. For all the adoration he receives, Slash’s music has become dull as fuck. That first Velvet Revolver album is a long time ago and even R&F’n’R, where he teamed up with a whole host of different vocalists, feels ancient. And even that was patchy at best. Slash has got boring in his old age and you wonder whether he can relight that fire which made him one of the biggest rock stars on the planet.
And yet despite all this it is Guns N’ Roses and even if Izzy’s not there or Axl is late if they are playing a venue within travelling distance of me I am going to be there. I am going to be there in the hope that even if just for one song, they can recapture that magic that I have heard about so many times so I can experience for myself. And god damn it I hope they do.