REVIEW: Guns N Roses, Echo Arena, 20th May 2012

With a stonking hangover courtesy of the Sound City finale, Jo and Jamie head to the Echo Arena to finish off a fantastic weekend of live music in Liverpool, with Guns N’ Roses. Would Axl turn up on time? Would he turn up at all?

As we arrive, Thin Lizzy were doing a fine job of motivating the crowd of ‘older’ rockers urging everyone to stand up; “Rock and Roll is not meant to be comfortable”. Classics such as Whiskey in the Jar and The Boys are Back in Town provide the highlights of their set, like a trip down memory lane viewed through an iPhone screen! Lead singer Ricky Warwick competently fills the shoes of the late Phil Lynott with his excellent vocals, although the hair, leather pants, scissor stance and self-indulgent guitar solos do seem a bit cliché nowadays. Quote of the day comes courtesy of a young steward, who when asked if Thin Lizzy had started, replied, “No, I don’t think she’s on yet!” Awww, bless!

It’s been 19 years to the week since I last saw Guns N’ Roses at Milton Keynes Bowl and I was apprehensive about what to expect from Axl Rose and co. Axl leads his new band to the stage at 11pm after keeping the growingly impatient crowd waiting, who were united in a chorus of pantomime boos. Maybe all we need is just a little “Patience”!


Surprisingly, Axl’s still got it, looking and sounding on fine form as the crowd (and reviewer) go mad for Welcome to the Jungle. Just as we were getting into it, Axl stops the show and threatens to go home because of people throwing “S**t” (actually Axl, it was probably p**s!). He restarts the show, complete with pyrotechnics even louder than the guitars, launching into So Easy and Mr Brownstone and sending the mosh pit into a frenzy. A self-initiated prompt of ‘Guns N’ Roses’ chanting provides a suitable interlude to display the talents of Richard Fortus and DJ Ashba on guitar and Dizzy Reed on piano.

The mix of classic GNR hits interlaced with instrumental jams became the theme for the rest of the gig but the crowd were much more appreciative of the former. With a nod to the Who and Pink Floyd, this is turning out to be a showcase of the best of 80’s rock, which judging by the exodus of a number of bemused people, was probably a bit tedious for anyone other than the hardened fans. The audience soon pick up for Live and Let Die and You Could Be Mine proving Axl is the star of the show, however, Slash’s presence was missed for the classic guitar intro for Sweet Child O’ Mine, which was only one duff note from perfect.


Despite the late start, GNR deliver a mammoth 3 hour set delivering all the classics and much much much more. Winding to a close with Night Train (which I have now missed thanks Axl!) they finally finish at 2am with Paradise City (well, at least I think they did…in truth, the late hour, worsening hangover and lack of stamina has got the better of me and I head home before the end; something I wouldn’t have dreamed of first time around!).

So, if you’re thinking of seeing Guns N’ Roses, take food and supplies; it may be a long night! More endurance than performance? Maybe, but I’m still a fan.

WORDS: Jo Nettleton – “Young at heart, but it’s getting much too late”! 
PHOTOS: Jamie McAleny (from halfway down the arena floor) 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.