|6/24/2016 by Gary Graff
Axl Rose was out of his throne and running again as Guns N' Roses opened Its Not In This Lifetime Tour of North America on Thursday (June 23) night at Ford Field for 41,000 fans in Detroit.
Rose had been confined to Dave Grohl's modified 2014 throne for most of GNR's previous reunion dates after breaking his foot during the group's April 1 warm-up concert at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. He began leaving the chair during his swing through Europe fronting AC/DC, and on Thursday the singer was fully mobile and as animated as ever, prowling the three-tiered stage with his trademark shuffles and gallops, leaving only for wardrobe changes that encompassed six different t-shirts, a leather jacket, five hats and a couple of bandanas.
The rest of the band -- including classic lineup members Slash and Duff McKagan, who have returned after an often acrimonious two-decade absence -- looked and sounded like it had spent the past two months since GNR's second Coachella show pent up and ready to rock again. The result was an explosive (literally, thanks to pyrotechnics) set that weighed in at two hours and 35 minutes, starting at an early-for-GNR 9:43 p.m. and wrapping up at about 12:20 a.m.
GNR hewed closely to the second Coachella show but also played ferociously, following Alice In Chains' favorites-loaded 40-minute opening set with a blitz through "It's So Easy," "Mr. Brownstone," "Chinese Democracy" and "Welcome To the Jungle." Epic treatments of "Double Talkin' Jive," "Estranged," "Rocket Queen," "Coma," "Civil War" and "November Rain" allowed the group, particularly Slash, plenty of room to stretch out, trading licks with fellow guitarist Richard Fortus on an instrumental rendering of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" and nailing the fan-memorized solos on "Sweet Child O' Mine."
McKagan -- who, along with drummer Frank Ferrer, sported a Detroit t-shirt -- gave a nod to Motor City by singing Iggy & the Stooges' "Raw Power" for his spotlight moment. And Rose -- burly, blinged-out and clearly tuned from his time with AC/DC -- was in top vocal form throughout the night, from his comparatively gentle crooning on "This Is Love" to his lung-busting wails on Wings' "Live and Let Die."
The well-spaced Not In This Lifetime Tour moves on to Kansas City on June 29 [HTGTH Note: Washington, DC on June 26] and will take GNR through North America until Aug. 22, with talk of heading to other territories after Rose helps AC/DC make up the 10 March dates it postponed later in the summer. And if there's any lingering concern about how the once bitterly separated group members are getting on, one of Thursday's nicest moments -- Rose leaning on Slash's shoulder during Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" -- was a hopeful sign that the animosities have been buried as GNR launches this latest chapter in the band's lifetime.
Detroit Set List:
It's So Easy
Welcome to the Jungle
Double Talkin' Jive
Live and Let Die (Wings cover)
You Could Be Mine
Raw Power (Iggy and The Stooges cover)
This I Love
Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather)
Sweet Child O' Mine
Out Ta Get Me
Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd cover, instrumental)
Knockin' on Heaven's Door (Bob Dylan cover)
The Seeker (The Who cover)