The morning after: GnR rock out in Abu Dhabi
With all due respect, is the sound of Guns N’Roses Slash’s guitar, or is it Axl Rose’s screeching vocals? From Thursday night’s show in Abu Dhabi, I’d say the latter. You can’t listen to ‘Nightrain’ or ‘Don’t Cry’ without Rose’s howls — but the guitar can be played by someone else (in this case, several people, including DJ Ashba and Ron Thal). It’s all about Rose.
I wasn’t quite this certain when the show started that night. Rose, let’s be honest, doesn’t look quite like he did, and he is the only remaining original member of the band – my expectations were low. Rose’s vocals were certainly a little weak on the first songs of the night, classics ‘It’s So Easy’ and the opener, ‘Welcome To The Jungle’.
He took several breaks, under the guise of allowing his band members to perform solos — some may have found it distracting, but I personally enjoyed watching some super-talented guitarists getting to rock out. Thal has a double guitar: it was like watching MTV in 1987, but on a warm evening under the stars. During those solos, I don’t know what Rose was doing backstage, but as the night progressed, his voice got better and better. Is it a question of confidence? I can’t say, but by the time we got to ‘Sweet Child O Mine’, there were no more issues — the throaty howls were there, and for all to hear as he bounced around the stage, running to each corner and climbing amps at the front.
The crowd went for all the big hits — there’s a lot of them, and they played them all in the show, which lasted over two and a half hours. Yes, you read that right – band played from 9.15 until near midnight, and even then they couldn’t play all the songs a fan might of wanted to hear, but they did as near a job as possible.
The band’s two famous covers were brought out too, making it the second time ‘Live And Let Die’ has rung out at du Arena (the first was performed by the song’s writer, Paul McCartney, during his 2011 Formula 1 show). But it was ‘Knockin On Heaven’s Door’s’ extended singalong that had the crowd in raptures.
Keyboardist Dizzy had told tabloid! that the encore was not to be missed, and I can confirm that was the case: it wasn’t so much encore as third act, with plenty of songs played, and a nice touch: the guitarists came on the empty stage strumming acoustic guitars — it had to be ‘Patience’, and sure enough, Rose came back on, whistling the intro to the song. Just one of many magical moments to be had that night — leaving fans patiently waiting for their next trip here.
By Natalie Long, tabloid! Editor