Saturday 16 December 2017

Review: Rock icons Guns N' Roses came, saw and conquered Slane all over again

Guns N’ Roses on stage at Slane. Picture: Fran Caffrey
Guns N’ Roses on stage at Slane. Picture: Fran Caffrey

Éamon Sweeney at Slane

When Guns N' Roses first played Slane in 1992, Albert Reynolds was Taoiseach, Bishop Eamon Casey had just resigned, and homosexual activity was still a crime. Guns N' Roses were then the biggest rock band in the world.

In 2017, not too much has changed. You can count on one hand the number of bands capable of selling out Slane.

After copious amounts of acrimony, vodka, drugs, rehab and Jack Daniel's under the bridge, the core members of Guns N' Roses have eventually reunited, cheekily referenced in calling their tour 'Not in This Lifetime'.

Axl Rose has been renowned for showing up to shows hours later than scheduled, allegedly punching promoters, and generally being highly unpredictable, while enhancing his reputation as one of the greatest frontmen of all time in the process.

Rose is flanked by Slash, still sporting a black top hat and shades after all these years. He doesn't have a cigarette dangling from his mouth and there isn't a bottle of Jack in sight, but the man can still play guitar like no one else on Earth.

The giant cascading riffs on 'Welcome to the Jungle', 'You Could Be Mine' and a rollicking cover of Wings' 'Live and Let Die', which Guns N' Roses still unequivocally own, unite the thousands thronged onto Slane hill in sweet rock 'n' roll abandon.

Michelle and Frances Ruske from Longford at the gig. Photo: Fran Caffrey
Michelle and Frances Ruske from Longford at the gig. Photo: Fran Caffrey

They cover 'Black Hole Sun' by Soundgarden in tribute to the Seattle band's singer Chris Cornell who died last week. It's a terrific version, proving that both Rose and Cornell are responsible for some of the most memorable and visceral rock vocals in musical history.

Slash pulls off yet another note-perfect and precise riff covering 'Black Hole Sun'. He slightly tests everyone's patience with a meandering guitar solo, but seeing as this is Slash, you'd be inclined to forgive him.

They also find time for a rendition of Pink Floyd's 'Wish You Were Here', which along with their version of Bob Dylan's 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door' and 'The Seeker' by The Who, prove their mettle as expert interpreters of the classics.

And then there are their own blue-chip hits that are eternally etched upon the musical consciousness of a generation - 'Sweet Child O' Mine', 'November Rain', and a thundering parting glass toast in 'Paradise City'.

Twenty-five years after they first played Ireland's biggest gig, Guns N' Roses came, saw and conquered Slane Castle all over again.

Irish Independent

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