So, the big story of 2016 (besides the two major classic rock deaths that we've had in the last week and a half) is shaping up to be the reunion. Guns N' Roses and LCD Soundsystem are both getting back together to play Coachella. LCD Soundsystem is likely headlining Bonnaroo as well and have announced plans to release their fourth studio record. At a personal level, I'm flying out to California just to see Guns N' Roses headline Coachella. Appetite For Destruction
was, alongside Rage Against the Machine's Battle of Los Angeles
, the defining hard-rock album of my music education. Today, the band just announced via Twitter
that they'll be playing some shows in Vegas the week before their big gig in the desert. And that's awesome. I'm glad they'll be shaking off the ring rust before I see them in California, but we've still got one question: what has to happen to keep the Guns 'N Roses reunion from being a complete disaster?
A lot of people were kvetching about the LCD Soundsystem reunion because of the big farewell tour, but I have nothing but high hopes for any of the LCD reunion shows. James Murphy dissolved the band on good terms, and it's clear how seriously he and the other core members of the group are taking the shows. If you're feelings are upset because you feel betrayed by not having your big "I was there for the end" moment with LCD...get over yourself. There's more to say on that front but this isn't the article for it. Guns N' Roses getting back together isn't so simple, and there are a host of unknown factors that will determine whether or not these shows are a fusion of some of the biggest rock gods in the genre's history or a trainwreck of epic proportions.
Way back in 2012, I wrote an open letter on the site to Axl Rose
. 2012 was the year that Guns N' Roses were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And although we can understand Rose's decision to not perform that evening with Slash & Duff (though it's tradition for bands to get back together for just one night for the induction ceremony), Axl was so upset to even be associated with Slash and Duff that he requested the Hall of Fame to not even induct him as part of the band in absentia (they did it anyways). That takes petty to an entirely different level.
Some bands break up, and it's understood that there are hard feelings between various members of the group, but the hatred between the Guns N' Roses members is among the ugliest in all of rock & roll. For the better part of two decades now, Slash and Axl have made Noel and Liam Gallagher look like best chums. I've seen bands that have tumultuous relationships put it all behind them and put on great shows. Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel loathed each other by the time the Concert in Central Park happened, but it's still one of America's most famous concerts. Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon have notoriously sparred over the years but last year's big Blur reunion record and tour were highlights of 2015. Can Guns N' Roses do the same thing?
Details are currently scare about all of the behind the scenes dealing that it took to get Guns N' Roses back together for this show. Clearly, money was a huge part of it. Reports have been going around for a couple weeks now that the band is asking for $3 million a show (which would easily make them one of the highest paid touring acts in the world). But if money were the only ingredient that had to happen to get Slash and Axl on stage together again, it would have happened years ago. Is there an agreement that they'll only be playing songs from the original lineup? I have difficulty imagining they'll ever get Slash to play anything from Chinese Democracy
? Or maybe the agreement is the reverse: perhaps each member will get a little bit of time to play stuff from their assorted side projects. Velvet Revolver's Dave Kushner will be replacing Izzy Stradlin on rhythm guitar. Will he and Slash play some VR tracks...perhaps in honor of their now late bandmate Scott Weiland? Is there an agreement that the band's infamous stage delays from their heyday (when they were all shooting up heroin backstage before performances) can't happen now? How do you get this much ego to cooperate in 2016?
Here's our prediction for the show. The vast majority of the evening will be material from Appetite From Destruction
cause this is clearly about the money, and those are the tracks folks want to hear. You'll get some of the big hits from Use Your Illusion
; there's no way they aren't playing "November Rain." Slash is going to sound phenomenal because he's one of the best guitarists of the last 30 years. And Axl has two choices. He can put all of his petty shit aside for fans who have stuck with him and his music since the 80s despite the fact that he's only outmatched by Billy Corgan in the "alienate your fans and the general listening public department one a**hole quote at a time" or he can live up to the expectations of the host of GNR fans I've spoken to in the last couple weeks who think Axl may very well end up self-destructing on stage.
We're pulling for an all-time classicc Coachella performance.