Guns N’ Roses at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London 2.7.2022 Gary Clark Jr and Michael Monroe supporting
A first gig at Spurs
My first trip to the new Spurs ground for any reason. It is very impressive, rising up between the residential streets and the scruffy High Road. We arrive on the 476 bus up from Angel, Islington. On match day I suppose regular fans get to know the best routes in and out but this is a pretty awful place to get access. (Getting out and back to more central London later proves to be a horror.) Not sure if these gigs are the first held here – could well be.
Confusion abounds as regards where to go – a lap of the stadium and a bit of queuing and we are in on an early entry ticket for 3pm….yes, we are here for seven and a half hours.
Reports are of around 70,000 people here today, with the all-standing on the pitch giving that added capacity to a football match which sees 62,850 when Spurs can fill it. This really is big stadium rock. I’m learning.
Predictably expensive (£6.70 for a pint of lovely Neck Oil) for drinks and food but service is fast and the quality good. They use bottom filling plastic glasses. Novel. Lots just drip beer down the front of your trousers so I spend the afternoon looking like I have a bladder disorder. Clean spacious concourses and plenty of smart toilets. No queues.
The first of two supports is ex-Hanoi Rocks man Michael Monroe – he’s Finnish. A real old school rocker look and glam rock is the label that gets applied to him. Didn’t know any of his material but really enjoyed it – easy going hard rock – maybe it was the relief of some music at last after a few hours sat around on the plastic pitch covering.
Stage bathed in sunshine at this point. That doesn’t last into the evening but helps the afternoon pics. 60-year-old Mike goes climbing up the side of the stage, still singing, with a leap on his descent that would have put me out of action for weeks.
There’s not much wind so the sound is pretty good near the front and central, although there were complaints up the back… it is a bit of a way back there.
I was thinking I would have to give Hanoi Rocks a Spotify spin sometime and I see he’s had 11 solo albums.
Gary Clarke Jr
The second of the two support acts is Gary Clark Jr, from Austin, Texas. Bluesy guitar rock and wow is this good. New to me and a bit different. I’d like to have seen a longer set – he impressed.
Then came the wait, the long wait. All announcements were urging people to be in and ready for Guns N’ Roses to come on at 6.45pm. That sounded a bit early but the stage video backdrop and sound kept hinting at a start: it was on a loop and it would all go quiet again. This went on for over two hours, most of which I spent cross legged to save my legs, on the plastic floor while above it clouded over.
The mood flattens. A bit of booing. It’s around 8.15pm. Action. Here they come…and the wait is forgotten.
Guns N’ Roses live
My first GN’R gig. These things need to be done. I’m grateful for the opportunity as we all rock ’til we drop.
Once again I find myself on unfamiliar musical territory – we all know the big hits but I have none of their records. I doubt I’ve ever listened to one of their albums all through on Spotify even, so I don’t recognise what they start with (here is the setlist for the record).
Then several songs in and with a rumble on the drums it is possibly the best song they perform all night: Welcome to the Jungle. It’s so heavy metal and brimming with excitement. An anthem of the genre. Axl Rose gives his all on this one and I wonder if he blew a gasket.
His voice appeared to deteriorate after this monster effort. He disappears periodically in the latter part of the set, leaving Slash to his solos, Duff to front a few and there’s a seated guitar acoustic interlude later. At one point he utters “welcome to the world of baritone”.
Axl, with a Union Jack t-shirt from his stage wardrobe for the day, offers an arbitrary solution to Hong Kong’s troubles, calling for the UK to take it back. That was the evening’s political insight.
The Wings cover Live and Let Die is a mid-set highlight – it was only last week I was watching McCartney do it – and they beef it right up. One of six covers in the set.
Hard to take your eyes off Slash and his magic fingers, looking a bit gnarled on the big screen close ups. He’s out to either side of the stage beyond the screens, wandering up over the drum podium, on to speakers, little jumps down, just playing on and playing on relentless, his mouth regularly quivering and distorting in concentration. One of the sights of live rock’n’roll.
It’s raining properly by the end of the set and people aren’t dressed for it. I settle for my emergency plastic see through poncho, complimenting my Pretty Green festival jacket beautifully for that London tourist caught in a shower look. Knocking on Heaven’s Door gives a lift. Great song, usually performed better by everyone other than Dylan.
It’s pissing down now. The set finishes and they return promptly – their lateness means they’re up against the 10.20pm curfew now – and the three guitarists play the Beatles’ Blackbird, sat together round the drums. Then Axl announces the pre-planned help he’s got in: American Idol graduate and country singer Carrie Underwood. On she comes in sparkly country style boots, Axl with his cowboy hat on. Yee haw. The first bars of Sweet Child o’ Mine play. Massive roar. Shame Axl can’t do it justice but she belts out the high notes. I’ve always envisaged seeing this played on a sunny day at a festival rather than in a rainy football stadium. You can’t have it all eh.
Paradise City to finish, another banger with Carrie on vocals and it’s thankyou and goodnight. Off into the mayhem of the High Road with a street of thousands flowing down passed curious hurdles of bits of roadworks and casualties in heaps on the floor, to closed overground station entrances, mobbed bus stops and local onlookers. Cars hooting, speeding, skidding… sirens. Eventually it clears the further you go and a bus heading south lets us on to travel to civilisation.
That’s my Guns N’ Roses experience. A big one….maybe one day I will stand in a sunny field, half drunk, and hear them play Sweet Child o’ Mine.