Edited by Brett Buchanan
25 years ago Guns N’ Roses were blazing a trail across North America when they kick-started what would be a two year world tour to support Use Your Illusion I & II. The most dangerous band in the world, as they were often touted back in the early 90’s, went on to play a mammoth 192 shows playing to an estimated 4 million fans.
This year the band has had a reunion of sorts, with Axl Rose, Slash, and Duff McKagan getting back together. Izzy Stradlin is missing, and Steven Adler is only a special guest, but it’s most probably the closest we were going to get to the original lineup that made Appetite For Destruction a rock classic.
The ‘Not in this Lifetime’ tour announcement did mean though that for the first time since the’ Use Your Illusion’ tour ended back in 1993, Axl Rose was sharing a stage with Slash. For fans this was historic, and not to be missed. This is why Guns N’ Roses has come back with a bang and continues to sell out stadiums on their first proper tour with original members Axl, Slash, and Duff in 23 years.
Watching this tour unfold has brought some real uncanny moments to the forefront, which we first highlighted a couple months ago with an article on Axl Rose’s broken foot. Moments that have seen history repeat itself, coincidences perhaps, but it feels that GNR have been reborn somehow. That’s not to disrespect the ‘new’ Guns N’ Roses that existed with Axl as the lone original member, but it does seem like every member is now performing at their absolute best on this new tour.
Below are points that strike as being uncannily familiar in the legacy of Guns N’ Roses.
On May 16, 1991, whilst jumping off a PA system at New York’s Ritz club, Axl hurt his leg badly. It was during the band’s performance of “You Could Be Mine”, soon after Axl took the microphone and said, “Have you ever heard the expression ‘break a leg’? Well I think I just did.” With a tour supposed to start just 8 days later, Axl’s leg wound up in a cast, but it did mean that he could still perform without any hindrance (or a throne).
Twenty five years later with GNR about to embark on a tour and playing a warm up show at the Troubadour, Axl hurt his leg, the same leg. Just like in 1991, he had to wear a cast which looked much like the cast from 1991. This injury though was a little more serious and, he was required for the next shows in Las Vegas, Mexico City and Coachella to sit down. Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl let Axl borrow his personal throne, something Grohl used when he broke his leg in 2015.
Schwarzenegger and Guns N’ Roses teamed up in 1991 for the music video “You Could Be Mine” to accompany that year’s huge blockbuster movie ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’. Since that time the two parties didn’t work together or have any public interactions. That was up until the reunited band played at Coachella this year. Schwarzenegger and his kids turned up as VIP guests to the band’s show. Schwarzenegger’s son Patrick was wearing a vintage GNR t-shirt- Patrick was born the same year that the ‘Use Your Illusion’ tour ended.
The Number 23
There certainly seems to be a link between this number and Guns N’ Roses as crazy as it seems. It all started in 1993 when Guns N’ Roses punk rock covers album The Spaghetti Incident? was released, the bookend to the Use Your Illusion era. It came out November 23rd. The band’s next release was Live Era 88-93, its release date? November 23, 1999. In 2008 the long-awaited Chinese Democracy album was finally released. Do we have to tell you when? Yes that’s right, November 23rd. Going back a few years before then in 2004, a ‘Greatest Hits’ album also came out in stores, released not in November, but in March. March 23rd.
The band’s latest stadium tour kicked off on June 23rd, and when the band played their historic show at The Troubadour this year, the ticket said that they would be on sometime after 11PM. In the 24 hour clock that is of course 23:00. If all of that wasn’t enough, then throw in that one of the special VIP guests was none other than actor Jim Carrey, who starred in a movie called ‘The Number 23’.
Finally, it had been 23 years since Axl, Slash, and Duff shared a stage together. Okay, that’s not exactly true, when the Troubadour show was played on April 1st it had been 22 years and 8 months, but you get the drift. Axl tweeted the next day after hurting his foot, ‘This is what can happen when you do something you haven’t done in nearly over 23 years.’
The majority of ‘Use Your Illusion’ shows kicked off with the double header of “It’s So Easy” and “Mr. Brownstone”. This was something abandoned during the non-Slash and Duff era, but it has become the set regular on all of the band’s shows thus far in 2016. “Double Talkin’ Jive” was never played by new GNR, but it has made its way back onto the setlist for the first time since 1993 when the last tour with Slash and Duff ended.
“Speak Softly My Love”, the infamous song from The Godfather movie in which during the ‘Use Your Illusion’ tour Slash would play solo on guitar has returned and harking back again to their 1991 release, “Coma” has popped up from obscurity and much to fans amazement given that it was played just a handful of times in the early 1990’s. Now it is a staple setlist song.
Axl’s introduction of Slash has been a real throwback, and a nice surprise for fans. At the Las Vegas show, the band’s first official arena gig on April 8th, Axl said when referring to Slash. “I don’t know what it is, but it’s weird and it’s pissed off and it calls itself Slash.” This was a direct reference to how Axl would introduce Slash from their 80’s heyday. Just watch the infamous Ritz show from 1988 on YouTube to see.
And so we will have to wait and see what other surprises happen in the ‘Not In This Lifetime’ tour. We already had one huge one when ex-drummer Steven Adler joined the band in Cincinnati and Nashville for two classic songs “Out Ta Get Me” and “My Michelle”. It was the first time that Adler had played with the band in over 26 years. With the amount of signs and t-shirts now asking ‘Where’s Izzy,’ this is another example of GNR repeating history. Could it be possible that we will see the rhythm guitarist return at some point during the tour? He did pop up for a brief stint after leaving early in the Use Your Illusion tour. Stay tuned to Alternative Nation!