The first sign that Axl Rose is not the indulgent rock diva he was came when Guns N’ Roses appeared bang on time at 7.45pm, when many fans patiently enduring long security queues could have done with his traditional lack of interest in clocks.
The brat has mellowed, as we already deduced when he spoke to estranged guitarist Slash for the first time in 19 years and began to plot the Not in This Lifetime tour. For the past year founding members Slash and bassist Duff McKagan, but not drummer Steven Adler (back injury) and guitarist Izzy Stradlin (“They didn’t want to split the loot equally”) have joined the kingpin in revisiting a swathe of hard rock classics and even lesser songs from the legendarily delayed latest album, Chinese Democracy, with which they weren’t involved.
It’s a good look for all of them: McKagan, ageless as he sang The Damned’s New Love, Slash, ageless by virtue of having no visible features, and Rose, portlier but still the greatest embodiment of rock at its most extravagant and ridiculous. There were longeurs across the two-and-a-half hour show, but the hits were all there, plus a touching tribute to the late Chris Cornell’s band Soundgarden. As Rose yowled and Slash’s fingers scurried across his instrument like an infestation, there was plenty of time to marvel at seeing such giants in close proximity to each other once again.