Axl hits the headlines (but not the notes)

The weekend's expletive-laden sets show Guns N' Roses' frontman still has his appetite for destruction, writes Jerome Taylor

Even by the standards of Axl Rose – one of the most mercurial singers in the pantheon of rock – it was a remarkably bitter way to end an extraordinary weekend of public tirades against the organisers of the Reading and Leeds festivals. "We come here to play for you but the cops and the promoters wanna fuck us in the ass," was all the Guns N' Roses front man had to say to 80,000 fans as his band brought the final night of the Leeds festival to a close. "We would like to play a few more songs for you but we'll just play one."

They duly did, hammering out an encore of their anthemic hit "Paradise City" to roars of approval from a crowd that had waited for half an hour for the headliners to make an appearance. But as they left the stage, Rose couldn't resist a final swipe at the festival organisers: "Be safe, good night and to all the cops and promoters – fuck you. This war isn't over."

For the past two decades, the only remaining founding member of Guns N' Roses has carved a niche as one of rock's trickiest characters, prone to onstage strops, tardy appearances, bust-ups with band mates and four-lettered outbursts.

Depending on which side of the fence you sit, Rose's perfectionism – his last album, Chinese Democracy, took 15 years to create – and unpredictability is either part of his enduring appeal and musical genius, or sums up everything wrong with the current incarnation of a group that was once regarded as one of the world's best live rock bands.

Few will disagree that the band's sets at Reading and Leeds festival 2010 will go down in history as one of Rose's most tantrum-filled appearences yet.

At Reading, Rose frequently exited the stage after singing only a couple of verses, purportedly with recourse to an oxygen tank he keeps in the wings. For long periods, the rest of the band played on without him. Midway through "Night Train", Rose shouted: "I don't even know why we bothered coming here," before throwing down his microphone and departing the stage.

The episode has inevitably cast a shadow over the band's UK tour next month as fans question whether the same sort of erratic behaviour can be expected when they play a series of sell-out gigs.

For music promoters, booking Guns N' Roses is a notoriously double-edged sword. On the one hand, you get an act that rarely fails to sell out any stadium you put them in and can still deliver blistering performances – in Tokyo last year, for instance, the band played their longest set yet, clocking up an astonishing three hours, 37 minutes. But you also have to deal with the unpredictable storm of controversy.

The band's spat with festival organisers began on Friday night, when Guns N' Roses appeared an hour late as the headline act for Reading's opening night. Incensed at being cut off by the festival's curfew, the band initially tried to play without amplification, with Rose announcing through a megaphone that he would not turn up to Leeds on Sunday evening.

In the end, they did play. But for the best part of 24 hours the organisers had no idea whether the headline act for the last night of Leeds would show up. The band seemed to get a mixed reaction from fans, some booed their performance, others shouted chants critical of the festival organisers.

The critics were unanimous in their excoriation of the current Guns N' Roses line-up. "There was no charisma, no chemistry and so little vocal that the rumour of the night was that Axl had drafted in Mickey Rourke as a body double," opined one reviewer.

Another, at virtualfestivals.com added: "Axl (dressed like your embarrassing uncle in a Jacko costume) is every inch the Gazza of rock, a sad old figure riding on past glories who leaves you pining for the genius days gone by."

Despite being late for their sets, the band placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of Reading and Leeds organisers. Rose used his Twitter account to demand an apology and, last night, claimed that festival organisers for Leeds reneged on a promise to give them extra time. "Don't know what it is w/us or these last 2 shows," he wrote. "Takes the fun out it 4 fans, band n' crew alike but whatever."

But if Melvin Benn, the chief of Reading and Leeds, was put out by Guns N' Roses' criticism, he wasn't willing to show it publicly. In an interview with the NME, he denied there were any splits.

"I haven't got a grudge against the band," he said. "They're one of the greatest bands in the world and they're playing one of the greatest festivals in the world."

But after Rose's tirade at Leeds, Mr Benn admitted that it was unlikely the Guns N' Roses frontman would want to grace the stage at his festival again.

On-stage anger

Babyshambles

Singer Pete Doherty once fled a gig and refused to play after a fan gave him a wedgie during an impromptu stage dive.



The Kinks

Guitarist Dave Davies and drummer Mick Avory were notorious for their onstage fights. Avory once smashed Davies over the head with a cymbal for knocking over his bass drum.



Everly Brothers

Brothers Phil and Don had a very public bust-up in 1973 during what was meant to be their last concert together. Phil smashed his guitar and stormed off stage after his brother kept missing his notes. Don finished the show alone, telling the audience that the band "died 10 years ago".

Where are they now? They all played on Guns N' Roses' debut album, Appetite for Destruction, but what happened next?



Slash

After a series of public spats with Axl Rose, Slash became the first original member to quit in October 1996. He became an in-demand session guitarist, playing with the likes of Alice Cooper, Michael Jackson, Ray Charles and Bob Dylan. In 2003, he formed Velvet Revolver with GNR band mates Duff McKagan, Izzy Stradlin and Matt Sorum. In March, he released a solo album, to mixed reviews.



Duff McKagan

The GNR bassist's drug and alcohol addiction almost killed him when his pancreas blew up in 1994. A period of intense rehab was followed by a revival through Velvet Revolver and, most recently, as bassist for Jane's Addiction.



Steven Adler

GNR's original drummer was the first band mate to be sacked by Rose because of ongoing drug addictions. Replaced by Matt Sorum for the Use Your Illusion albums.



Izzy Stradlin

As a guitarist and sometime singer for GNR, Stradlin went solo successfully before reuniting for Velvet Revolver. In 2006, he also briefly joined up with Axl Rose. Continues with solo work and has 11 albums under his belt as well as an appearance on Slash's solo CD.

Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
News
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
people
News
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Oscars
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
music
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
film
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
architecture
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower