June 4th saw the first 2022 live show from rockers Guns N’ Roses take place.
Taking the stage at the 50,000 capacity Passeio Marítimo de Algés in Lisbon, Portugal, Axl and company played a 24-song set taking in the classics like Welcome To The Jungle and Paradise City that fans would expect – and a few surprises that they wouldn’t. A cover of Velvet Revolver’s Slither provided a nod to guitarist Slash’s time out from G’n’R, while a run through AC/DC’s Walk All Over You was welcomed by fans who might have missed Axl’s stint moonlighting for the legendary Aussies. They played Reckless Life live for the first time since 1993 and You’re Crazy was given its first full electric outing since 1991.
Understandably, UK fans are keeping a close eye on the band ahead of their July 2022 shows – they’ve already been delayed since 2020 and then 2021. However, being a GNR fan has always required a little Patience – pardon the pun – between cancelled tours, interminable LP delays and more line-up changes than an average NFL season. So what’s kept them at the top for so long?
For a band whose sound always harked back to earlier times – Appetite For Destruction owed a lot to both the proto-punk of the New York Dolls and glam-rock of Hanoi Rocks – Guns N’ Roses have always commanded popular culture. They’re the undisputed masters of licensing – just when fans thought the Use Your Illusion LPs were going to remain illusions they screamed back into view with You Could Be Mine – the soundtrack for the most anticipated movie in years and featuring that cameo from Arnie in the video. As the game industry started to pass Hollywood for home entertainment, G’n’R were keen to be in that space too.
The first time players could pop a CD into a console rather than a stereo and hear Axl ring out was in 2004 when Welcome To The Jungle was broadcast on the rock radio station in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (and if the hype for Terminator 2 was massive, it bears nothing to that for GTA games). Kids that had grown up playing Slash riffs in the mirror on a tennis racket graduated to guitar controllers with GnR’s three appearances in the Guitar Hero franchise and two in Rock Band. The Cincinnati Bengals taking Welcome To The Jungle to their hearts in their 1988-89 Super Bowl season helped it become a gridiron anthem and it’s featured in four of EA’s all-conquering Madden franchise.
However, games have been a constant source of exposure for the band since the mid-2000s. They’ve featured on Burnout Paradise and an abandoned racer codenamed Project Velocity in 2012 was set to feature at least 6 GNR tracks. Recently they’ve branched out into online gaming also. You can find the band featured in an online slot from Foxy Games as well. Titled Guns N’ Roses, the game features imagery associated with the band and some snippets of their music. Released to commemorate their 30th anniversary, they’re the latest metallers to hit online casinos, joining luminaries like KISS, Megadeth and Twisted Sister.
In the full 15 year delay between the Illusion albums (1993) and Chinese Democracy (2008), G’n’R managed to stay in some sort of spotlight by licensing – and recording – tracks for TV and movie use. A cover of Sympathy For The Devil was recorded under some duress for 1994’s Interview With The Vampire. Sessions were apparently acrimonious, with Slash and bassist Duff McKagan quitting the band shortly afterwards. 1999 saw the band – although it was only really Axl left – release their first new track in five years, with Oh My God to be featured on the soundtrack to Schwarzenegger movie End Of Days. Never released as a single, it’s mostly remembered now as ‘the one Dave Navarro played on’.
With the controversy surrounding Appetite For Destruction and the band’s chaotic lifestyles at that point, few would have bet on Guns N’ Roses lasting three months, let alone three decades. But as we’ve reported in our piece Guns N’ Roses Legacy Continues to Grow After North American Tour, they’re still very much, alive, kicking and hitting up the UK in July, with what promise to be two spectacular nights at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and one at Glasgow Green before heading off to Europe. Don’t miss them.