Guns N’ Roses Deliver Strong Opening Night Performance in Las Vegas
Earlier in the day, Axl Rose revealed he was suffering from a broken foot, but thanks to the loan of a gigantic metal throne from Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, the singer was able to lead the show in high style. (A few songs into the set, Rose had the contraption moved from dead center to slightly stage right, so as not to completely block drummer Frank Ferrer. Amusingly, this instead largely obscured keyboardist Dizzy Reed, for which Rose apologized.)
Much like the band's surprise L.A. club show last week, the set started off with two favorites from their groundbreaking debut album Appetite for Destruction. With the exception of "My Michelle" and the Who's "The Seeker," GNR played all of the songs featured at that previous concert.
However, with more time and a bigger stage to work on, the group stretched out by also playing some of the more epic songs from the Use Your Illusion albums, including "Estranged," "Coma," "Civil War" and "November Rain."
There were plenty of fireworks and pyrotechnics, three dancing girls atop the amps in the back, and a large video display filled with constantly changing graphics or shots of the band performing. But the focus remained squarely on the band and their impressive catalog, with Rose pausing only briefly to compliment the new venue, introduce the band's new lineup and repeatedly thank Grohl for the use of his chair.
His voice was consistently strong, and the rest of the band sounded amazing. Hopefully this won't sound like too much of a knock against the members of the recent GNR lineups – we had a blast at every show we saw in support of Chinese Democracy – but having Slash and Duff back makes a huge difference, it just can't be denied. It was particularly fun to see the former dig into the passionate soloing of "This I Love," or deliver an extended introduction for "Double Talkin' Jive."
There was no sign or mention of Steven Adler or Izzy Stradlin, but Ferrer and second guitarist Richard Fortus made sure they weren't missed much. Fortus effortlessly commanded the stage while soloing over Slash's talk box work on "Rocket Queen," and dueted wonderfully with his new top-hatted bandmate on an instrumental cover of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here."
After that Rose – who bravely and gamely hopped off his throne several times during the show for outfit changes – joined in on piano for a full take on the coda from Derek and the Dominos' "Layla." This naturally led into "November Rain," which pretty much brought the house down. "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," "Patience" and "Paradise City" sent everybody home happy, if tired – their set started a bit before midnight and ran until about 2:30AM.)
Alice in Chains served as the opening act, and delivered a lean, hard-hitting and fast-paced set that started with "Again" and closed with "Would?" Coincidentally, the Seattle grunge stars also served as the opening act for Kiss on their 1996 reunion tour.
So, to sum up, this was an excellent concert. Everybody sounds great individually and collectively, and if this concert represents the kind of show Guns N' Roses will be delivering at football stadiums across the country this summer, you'd be wise to attend.
Guns N' Roses, April 8, 2016, T-Mobile Arena Las Vegas Setlist
1. "It's So Easy"
2. "Mr. Brownstone"
3. "Chinese Democracy"
4. "Welcome to the Jungle"
5. "Double Talkin' Jive"
7. "Live and Let Die"
8. "Rocket Queen"
9. "You Could Be Mine"
10. "New Rose"
11. "This I Love"
13. “Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather)”
14. "Sweet Child O' Mine"
16. "Civil War"
17. "Wish You Were Here"
18. "Layla (coda)"
19. "November Rain"
20. "Knockin' on Heaven's Door"
23. "Paradise City"
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