Guns 'N' Roses - Manchester Evening News Arena
The girl being dragged across the concourse of Manchester Arena is visibly upset. She’s being screamed at by her father – yelling about trains, wasted money, and how they were meant to see an hour and a half of the show before going home. The couple walking out the door with their merchandise bags in hand don’t look much happier. Why should they be? They’ve been screwed twice. Neither group have heard a note of music from the band they came to see. It’s about 10:20pm, you see, and the band they paid good money to see have screwed the fans yet again. By this point there’s a steady trickle of leavers. One guy is saying he’ll buy a ticket from the last lingering tout – but not ‘til he hears the first notes. Canny punter.
If you’re reading this and wondering why anyone is writing about a band who are – notoriously – always late being late again, it’s because waiting on that concourse to go in, I got to see the people that Axl doesn’t get to see. The people who put good money down and had to leave because of trains, babysitters, work tomorrow, angry parents.
Downstairs in the arena, the booing has long since started, and continues until the lights finally go down – almost two hours after the scheduled stage time, and a cheer finally goes up. The band tear into 'Chinese Democracy', and all is finally well.
What’s more frustrating than anything is having to write about Axl being late again. It's not the kind of thing you can ignore. Because when it comes down to it, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the current incarnation of Guns ‘n’ Roses that couldn’t be fixed by a tour manager tampering with all the clocks that cross their mercurial singer’s sightline.
It’s a great two hour rock show, full of pyrotechnics, energy and - yes, great musicianship (although let’s face it, slightly heavy on the instrumental solos – the Pink Panther theme has no place in a rock gig.). The old hits sound great, Axl's voice ain't bad. But as he stands there, middle finger aloft during 'It’s So Easy', and follows it up with 'Mr Brownstone'’s “Show usually starts around seven, we go on stage around nine”, it’s hard not to feel that he’s having a laugh at our expense, and this joke just isn’t funny any more.