First Night: Guns N' Roses, Reading Festival

2.00

Axl flounders as Reading made to wait for its rock fix

The boos must echo through Axl Rose's dressing room.

An hour after he and the shattered substitutes for his band, Guns N' Roses, are due onstage, he still refuses to walk out to play to his public. When he does, with the title track for the album Chinese Democracy, which it took him 18 ludicrous years to finish, the boos barely relent. The Reading Festival's proud British rock crowd treat this exhausted, insulting star with contempt.

At the end of the first night of what may end as a legendary Reading Festival, the car crash that was expected of Rose duly piled into a wall.

His scraped-smooth, red-raw skin makes Mickey Rourke's look normal. His cheap silver jacket looks like one you might pick up outside a Las Vegas gig by a Guns N' Roses tribute act, who would play with more commitment. His voice loosely recalls Cartman, South Park's eight-year-old anarchist, when whining about his homework.

The early part of the set includes cult tracks from Guns N'Roses' debut album, Appetite for Destruction, from which fans stagger away in shame. The Replacements' bassist Tommy Stinson has been dragooned into what might mercifully be Axl's last stand. He can do nothing for the sad, slack stumble this band has become. Even "Welcome to the Jungle" is dribbled out with no meaning. Fireworks flare to fool the rubes, Axl sputters, and lets his career die. Only the bell-boy still owed money at whatever Royal Berkshire hotel he's staying after this nightmarish one-night stand might wish him well, for one night only.

For "Sweet Child O' Mine", he changes into a red check shirt that would go down well in a country bar on a slow Monday. He tinkles away at a keyboard – as if he's an artist – but never says sorry when he falls far short. The contempt of this tinny, redundant show by a blissfully ignorant ex-star is mutual long before the end.

Last year's Reading was the dullest in memory. But there's far more potential this year for the chaos, anarchy and inspiration rock'n'roll always promises. Guns N' Roses suggest you be careful what you wish for. But Pete Doherty's reformed The Libertines, due tomorrow, along with the highly anticipated return of exuberant critics' favourites Arcade Fire, promise explosive behaviour. As does a defiant reconnection with Reading's headbanging, hard-rock spirit, from Queens of the Stone Age on Friday to Blink 182 at the weekend's close.

The increasingly middle-class and mature nature of newer festivals such as Latitude and Cornbury has never been Reading's way. The rock festival as teenage rite of passage and test of endurance always comes into its own as tents start to sink out of sight, and cleanliness is left behind for the weekend, along with mum and dad.

The unlikely sight of the baking, cracked moonscape of Glastonbury this June – where festival-goers more used to taking precautions for trenchfoot suffered blistered skin from the endless sun – was suddenly a fond memory, when Reading in its early hours looked set to be a swamp. The sun and cloud of a typical late summer evening, and the unimpressively ankle-high spatters on the boots of those jostling to see Friday's first big names, Lostprophets and Biffy Clyro, meant a real, blackly liquid mudbath would, in fact, be averted. Many were disappointed at that. But the contempt for Axl confirmed that there was a real rock festival waiting to take place.

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
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.

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'