Guns N' Roses Light Up L.A.'s Forum With Epic Not in This Lifetime Show

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation
Axl Rose and Slash of Guns N' Roses perform onstage during the "Not In This Lifetime..." Tour.  

When rumors of Guns N’ Roses’ resurrection surfaced at the end of 2015, many didn’t expect Axl Rose and Slash would finally put aside over two decades of differences to reunite one of the best bands of its time. Axl himself famously said ahead of its Rock N Roll induction in 2012 that it wouldn’t happen in this lifetime.

Now, nearly 19 months after that first show at the Troubadour with this lineup, Guns N’ Roses continue to dazzle with a theatrical, high-powered arena show that blends power and prowess, along with a measure of flair and decadence that marked the band's prime, world conquering years.

Returning to the Forum, a venue that housed one of the most celebrated shows in the band’s history back in 1991, Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan powered through a nearly four-hour set that featured nearly as many songs from Chinese Democracy as it did from the band’s landmark Appetite For Destruction. Of the band’s six Los Angeles-area shows since the reconfiguring of its lineup, this was easily its widest-ranging.

Broadcasted live on SiriusXM’s Classic Rewind channel, Guns N’ Roses performed with the vigor and urgency of a band that’s been together for 30-plus continuous years. Compared to the previous legs, when the band was still in its learning phase, the Forum show showcased a rhythm section in unison, and a willingness to veer into extended jams. Richard Fortus has proven to be the perfect counterpart to Slash’s marauding guitar, a more-than-capable rhythm guitarist. Drummer Frank Ferrer and keyboardists Dizzy Reed and Melissa Reese’s roles allowed for the band’s massive sound to have a low-key intricacy and subtle nuance as well.

Bandana-wearing and top hat-toting fans were able to sing-along to reliable staples like “Mr. Brownstone,” “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine” without missing a word. More impressively, Rose’s vocals were in top form, rarely missing a note and not showing any wear from touring. Belting out rough Chinese Democracy songs like “Better,” “Sorry” and the rarely played “Catcher in the Rye,” Rose was as disciplined as he was a magnetic presence. The singer was also in an uncharacteristically engaging mood throughout the marathon set. Slithering across the stage with the nimbleness of a running back while constantly raising arms to encourage the crowd, Rose had a controlled energy that would have been hard to fathom in the Illusion era.

Even when things didn’t go as planned for Axl -- in particular, a flubbed and eventually scrapped start of “There Was a Time” and an accidentally spilled beverage on his piano ahead of the big “November Rain” finish -- Rose kept his composure and laughed off the mishaps. Chatty by his standards, the singer laughed as he pointed out the distinct smell of medical marijuana in the building ahead of “Yesterdays,” and thanked the crew and fans following a soaring rendition of “Madagascar.”

In a year where a number of music icons havedied, Guns N’ Roses did their best to pay their sonic respects. A twangy cover of “Wichita Lineman” was welcome, as was a raucous tribute to AC/DC’s Malcolm Young, with “Whole Lotta Rosie,” a song the band covered in its early years.

As the clock blew past the midnight hour, and after “Paradise City” put the 37-song set to rest, Guns N’ Roses ended the tour without lineup questions clouding its future. Though the band has stadium dates scheduled for Europe next year, few outside of the band know what’s next for this group. Rumors surrounding potential new material have already surfaced and with how well the band has come together, it would be disappointing at this point if didn’t happen.

This wasn’t a band slogging out the string at the end of an exhaustive tour that it play five continents. Instead it was the opposite. For fans, though, if nothing else, Not in This Lifetime proved that after 23, long overdue years, not only could Axl and Slash coexist in a band (once unfathomable), but that the wait for iconic duo to put aside their legendary differences aside was worth it.


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