Friday, November 3, 2017

Review: Guns N’ Roses’ show restraint in Detroit

Posted By on Fri, Nov 3, 2017 at 12:24 PM

  • Photo provided by artist, by Katarina Benzova

Leave it to an alt-weekly to show up late to a Guns N’ Roses show. In that way we are more GNR than GNR. But we weren’t alone. A band known for tardiness and unpredictability showed up on time last night to Little Caesars Arena and, as suggested by the scores of empty seats as late as five songs deep into their set, it was clear that we were not going to get the GNR we’ve come to expect. At least they showed up. At the very least.

As they near the end of their multi-leg, 180-show “Not In This Lifetime... Tour,” GNR performed as if they have something to prove. Not to us, but to themselves — which made us wonder if perhaps these gregarious rockers have an appetite for collapse. The boys from Paradise City are in need of a break. And we can’t say that we blame them.

As before, GNR delivered a nearly 3.5 hour set (an hour longer than their tour kickoff show at Ford Field last year) that was padded with covers (7 in total, not including their beloved rendition of Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”) as they stumbled to find their stride. It wasn’t until halfway through 1991’s Use Your Illusion II protest anthem “Civl War” that ushered in a more unified GNR, who struggled to appear as willing compatriots.

  • Photo provided by artist, by Katarina Benzova
An over-accessorized Axl Rose (looking like your ex-husband who went nuts at a pawn shop jewelry counter) proved, though, that he is a man of many hats (seriously, the guy loves hats), diving fearlessly into GNR’s ambitious back catalogue while channeling, to the best of his abilities, the slinky, high-energy Rose of yesteryear.

Considering the seemingly self-indulgent lengthiness of their performance, it still felt as though there was a lot of space to fill. They felt small on stage, not in size but in presence. This was a far cry from the GNR we saw last year. The absence of anticipation and and magic of last year’s Ford Field blowout tour launch that reunited Rose, bassist Duff McKagan, and guitar master Slash after a very turbulent 23 years was palatable last night. But to their credit, their cautious adjustments, spacing, and countless Slash and Duff solos allowed for Rose to release his explosive octave acrobatics on bangers like “My Michelle,” “Nightrain,” and tapping into his deeper, velvet tones for encore ballad “Patience.”

  • Photo provided by artist, by Katarina Benzova
Of course, hearing the opening guitar chords to “Sweet Child O’ Mine” still gives goosebumps and will forever make us feel younger than we felt when we were actually young (no matter how old we really are). Criticism aside, we can’t help but applaud Guns N’ Roses' rattling legacy that has time and time again given us an all-access pass to a jungle where the term “rock ’n’ roll” surpasses a description of sound, but encompasses a way of life. Even if you have to coast a little to get there, GNR proves that it’s worth the ride.

Tags: , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Most Popular

Read the Digital Print Issue

Sept. 22, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation