“Do you like my furniture?” Rose asked. “A friend brought this.” (It was on loan from Dave Grohl, who designed it for a 2015 Foo Fighters show he performed with a broken leg.)
Rose reportedly snapped his metatarsal bone last week while performing a warm-up club date at Los Angeles' Troubadour and has since had surgery to set it properly. “This is what can happen when you do something you haven’t done in nearly over 23 years,” he tweeted on Friday.
The bizarre setup seemed to have a serendipitous positive effect. It allowed Rose to concentrate entirely on his voice instead of his breath-stealing antics, resulting in masterful vibrato control and pitch-perfect singing that did not trail off one iota as the two-and-a-half hour night wore on.
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But honestly, most fans seemed happy just to witness a stage containing Rose, guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan at the same time. For decades, Rose has denied any desire to reunite his original band, even refusing to appear for its 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. (What changed his mind remains a pleasant mystery.)
The set revisited songs from every GN’R epoch, but began and ended with the band’s remarkably popular 1987 debut album, Appetite For Destruction. Fans went berserk for the show’s opening (“It’s So Easy”) and closing numbers (a confetti-and-fireworks-garnished “Paradise City”) and shook the freshly built rafters during every Appetite song in between -- especially “Welcome to the Jungle” and GN’R’s only Hot 100 number-one single, “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”
The set also included the lesser-known but still cherished “November Rain,” “Coma” and “Estranged” (from 1991’s Use Your Illusions set), and unexpected detours, such as an instrumental version of “The Godfather Theme” and the outro to “Layla” starring Slash as Eric Clapton.
Then there were the post-Slash GN’R songs “Chinese Democracy” and “Better,” during which large lines formed at the restrooms.
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Slash performed throughout with an unfamiliar sense of clarity and urgency -- perhaps due to his sobriety, or maybe because he had something to prove (that Rose made a mistake by ever replacing him).
Strangely, though, there wasn’t much interaction between the founding GN’R threesome. In particular, Rose rarely acknowledged or even looked at Slash, other than during this awkward introduction: “I don’t know what it is but it’s weird and it’s pissed off and it calls itself Slash.” (Slash, donning a pair of blackened aviator shades throughout the performance, did not react.)
Filling out the “Not in This Lifetime” tour were modern-day GN’R guitarist Richard Fortus and drummer Frank Ferrer, along with longtime keyboardist Dizzy Reed and a second keyboardist, inaugural female GN’R member Melissa Reese. (Founding drummer Steven Adler is rumored to have been considered for his old stool until recently injuring his back, while founding rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin is said to have no interest in reuniting.)
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Rose is expected to recover in time for a stadium swing this summer, but should still be immobilized for GN’R dates at Coachella (April 16 and 23), in Mexico City (April 19-20) and, of course, Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena.