Guns N’ Roses deliver fully loaded reunion show at BC Place

Guns N’ Roses with Royal Blood at BC Place Stadium, 9/1/17

Photo by Ryan Johnson

Ever since Guns N’ Roses played their first reunion show with Slash and Duff McKagan in April 2016, the band has been crossing continents and oceans on their global Not in This Lifetime tour. Last Friday, they spent a staggering three and a half hours showing Vancouver fans why that tour has already climbed to #10 in the list of highest grossing tours of all time. For some fans, the show was a long awaited trip down memory lane. For others, it was an experience they thought they’d never live.

While hordes of fans tried to find their seats in the massive 54,500 capacity “home of the Lions & Whitecaps”, English duo Royal Blood filled the stadium with the fierce riffs that have earned the band praise from rock royalty including Jimmy Page. “This is a pretty big fucking gig for us,” singer and bassist Mike Kerr said. And that came from a band that has already opened for the Foo Fighters and Iggy Pop.

Axle Rose
Photo by Ryan Johnson

Everyone made sure to find their seat by the time Guns N’ Roses started though. And those fans were smart (or just lucky): Guns N’ Roses’ set was loaded with fireworks from the get-go. Opening song “It’s So Easy” ended with fireworks blasting from both sides of the stage. “Chinese Democracy” began with the same pyrotechnic display and ended with flames shooting up behind the band.

The band members of course made their own sparks. Guitars blazed as Slash and Richard Fortus shredded like the six-string masters they are. They soloed, duetted on Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”, and dueled, trading off on “Rocket Queen”. Slash teased out the iconic intro of “Welcome to the Jungle” and even busted out the double-neck guitar for “Civil War” and Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”. Halfway into the show, Axl Rose introduced the band, which also included drummer Frank Ferrer, pianist Dizzy Reed, and synthesizer player and backup singer Melissa Reese, and saved Slash for last, giving him the time for a true guitar solo, spotlight and all on the blacked out stage.

Photo by Ryan Johnson

Along with Dylan and Floyd, Guns played their versions of “The Seeker” by the Who, “Live and Let Die” by Wings, and James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good)” which they injected with a shot of their signature adrenaline. And for something closer to Guns N’ Roses’ time, they played Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun”, their second tribute of the night, following Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman” which Slash performed while seated with an acoustic guitar. Duff McKagan took a turn leading on the blended cover of Johnny Thunders’ “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory” and the Damned’s “New Rose”.

Despite the literal fireworks (and flames), many of Guns N’ Roses’ best moments come when the band shows, as Axl put it, its “soft underbelly. Our sensitive side”: “Yesterdays”, Axl on piano for “November Rain”, “Estranged” with a graceful piano solo by Reed, and “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. During these songs more than any other, Axl showed that he still has it, hitting all the vocal highs he’s known for, and that he didn’t overextend himself by pulling double-duty replacing Brian Johnson as the lead-singer in AC/DC.

Guns N' Roses with Royal Blood
Photo by Ryan Johnson

After 26 songs, Guns N’ Roses left the stage, taking their only real break of the night which didn’t last more than a few minutes. They then returned for an encore that consisted of not one, not two, not three, but six songs including “Catcher in the Rye”, the bluesy acoustic number “Patience”, “Don’t Cry”, and the closer of all closers, “Paradise City”.

Over 32 songs that spanned three and a half hours, Guns N’ Roses gave fans a true live music spectacle. And they did so without missing a single beat or breath – while running back and forth across the expansive BC Place stage. For a show that was 20 years in the making, Guns N’ Roses fully delivered, fully loaded.

Photo by Ryan Johnson

Set list:

1. “It’s So Easy”
2. “Mr. Brownstone”
3. “Chinese Democracy”
4. “Welcome to the Jungle”

5. “Double Talkin’ Jive”
6. “Better”
7. “Estranged”

8. “Live and Let Die” (Wings cover)
9. “Rocket Queen”
10. “You Could Be Mine”
11. “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory”/”New Rose” (Johnny Thunders cover and the Damned cover)

12. “This I Love”
13. “Civil War”/”Voodoo Child” outro (Jimi Hendrix cover)
14. “Yesterdays”
15. “Coma”
16. Slash guitar solo

17. “Speak Softly Love” (Nino Rota cover, The Godfather theme)

18. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” 
19. “Wichita Lineman” (Glen Campbell cover)
20. “Used to Love Her”
21. “My Michelle”

22. “Wish You Were Here” (Pink Floyd cover)
23. “November Rain”
24. “Black Hole Sun” (Soundgarden cover)
25. “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” (Bob Dylan cover)
26. “Nightrain”

27. “Catcher in the Rye”
28. “Patience”
29. “I Got You (I Feel Good)” (James Brown cover)

30. “Don’t Cry”
31. “The Seeker” (The Who cover)
32. “Paradise City”

Leslie Ken Chu

Leslie Ken Chu