A mere 11 years since their last albums of original material, the Gunners finally returned to London, moreobjects of curiosity than a vital musical force. Despite numerous muted appearances over the past few years, only now has the lucrative lure of the European festival circuit tempted Axl Rose and his cohorts across the pond.
Though Slash, Izzy, Duss, Dopey and Doc are now long gone – Rose even went as far as banning his former band-mates from seeing the current line-ups at US shows last year – G'n'R still behave like the megastars they once were. Reportedly their Leeds show on Friday saw the backstage area cleared of mere encumbrances such as the other performers on the bill, who responded with a celebrity honour guard of boos as Rose finally took to the boards 90 minutes late. Despite the wait the crowd loved the set, unlike local residents.
With a wave of gloriously unironic rock bands like the Datsuns and the Darkness emerging, a chance to see the daddies of the style can't be missed. Rose's raging paranoia might have some sound reasoning behind it though. Fewer conflicting egos means fewer guitar solos and a far more direct approach. Kicking off with "Welcome To The Jungle'' it's a pleasure to be reminded just how sharp G'n'R were before drugs and megalomania interfered. "It's so Easy'', "You Could be Mine'' and "Sweet Child of Mine'' fly by, all but denuded of their worst guitar excesses.
You know you are watching a true stadium rock outfit when there are at least three autocues on stage along with the requisite flame-throwers and explosive charges.
But the second half, featuring a handful of mediocre new tunes, loses its way. Perhaps those battling egos were what gave the young Gunners their spark. None the less a breakneck "Nightrain'' and the inevitable "Paradise City'' finished things brilliantly.
Time will show if this line-up actually produce something more lasting than an enjoyable revival show.