Entertainment Music Reviews

Sunday 17 December 2017

Guns N' Roses at Slane review: They look and play so well it's like they never went away

Guns N' Roses on stage at the concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath.
Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses on stage at the concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses on stage at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

After facing three security checks, 83,000 people patiently queued for beer and burgers in a slightly muddy but far from devastated Slane hill.

Despite the challenging conditions, the crowds flowed into the venue from the bus drop off in well under an hour. 

The most recently formed acts to have headlined Slane in the last decade are Oasis and Eminem, which says it all in terms of the paucity of suitable bands to pull off Ireland's biggest show. 

Securing a top name capable of selling out this iconic natural amphitheatre is not easy. There were no Slane concerts in 2010, 2012, 2014 or 2016.

Just like U2 and the Rolling Stones before them, Guns N' Roses have been round this Boyne side block before. 

A quarter of a century since their first Slane appearance in 1992, core members Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan have buried their respective hatchets. 

Guns N' Roses fans at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath.
Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses fans at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses on stage at the concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses on stage at the concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses fans at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses on stage at the concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses on stage at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses on stage at the concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses on stage at the concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses fans make their way to the pit in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Guns N' Roses takes a picture of at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Fans in the pit at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Mary McGeoghan and Polina Duginova Dundalk at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Tamara Conyngham (centre) with friends in the castle courtyard at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Michelle Ruske and Frances Ruske from Longford at the at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Suzanne Tierney and Collette Byrne Skyrne at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Fans in the pit at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Dawn Hagan Louise Smith and Claire Bailly from Newtownards at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Nicola Lowey and Exter Barnes from Belfast at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Shauna Moran, Sharon Tyndal from Dublin and Caoimhe Tyndal from Swords at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Elouise Kennedy Anita McDonnell from Wexford at the Guns N' Roses gig at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Otherkin on stage at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Otherkin on stage at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Otherkin on stage at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Blood Royal on stage at the Guns N' Roses gig at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
A new bottle of Slane Whiskey makes it for the Guns N' Roses gig at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Royal Blood on stage at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Fans in the pit at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Royal Blood on stage at the Guns N' Roses gig at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Royal Blood on stage at the at the Guns N' Roses gig at Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey
Royal Blood on stage at the Guns N' Roses concert in Slane Castle, Slane, Co Meath. Picture Newsfile | Fran Caffrey

This was until quite recently considered such an unlikely event the tour is named 'Not in This Lifetime', which echoes the Eagles' 'Hell Freezes Over' global jaunt, referring to how Don Henley responded to a query on whether his estranged band would ever reform. 

In 1992, good humoured fans built human pyramids while waiting for Guns N' Roses to take to the stage. Axl Rose was renowned for a lack of punctuality, which also surfaced at a concert in the 3Arena in 2010. In 2017, everything runs like clockwork, despite the inclement weather earlier in the day.

After raucous performances from Irish noiseniks Otherkin, Brighton duo Royal Blood and American cult hero Mark Lanegan, Guns N' Roses preface their set with the cartoon theme tune to 'Looney Tunes' and the Harry Gregson-Williams song 'The Equalizer'. 

They blast out of the traps with 'It's So Easy' from 'Appetite for Destruction'; an expletive strewn rock song about when they had no money, but an army of hangers on.

Now, they're on roughly $5.5 million per show. Their music might be big, bloated and debauched alpha male cock-rock, but it's undeniably effective and entertaining. 

The sight of Axl Rose and Slash performing side by side is powerful and reaffirming. One of the most iconic singer and guitarist pairings in musical history are finally back in the ring. 

Alongside McKagan, they look and play so well it's like they never went away.

They perform a stunning version of 'Black Hole Sun' in tribute to the late Chris Cornell. Like the sadly departed Cornell, Rose has one of the most raw voices in rock history.

For Guns N'Roses and their massive Irish audience, the last twenty five years went by in the blink of the eye.

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