This Guns n’ Roses Reunion Is Pure Illusion

Make no mistake, this new concoction is merely Axl and the Roses

axl throne


Whether or not you accept that the 2016 version of Guns n’ Roses is a close-enough recreation of the original or near classic version is a source of considerable debate. At least it was before the band performed its first “reunion” shows. Already its authenticity was in doubt, what with the absence of rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, a member that anyone within the GNR camp will tell you was as, if not more important, to the band’s quan than Axl or Slash. Then there was no Steven Adler or, hell, even his Use Your Illusion-era replacement Matt Sorum, either of whom would have made this GNR feel more like a throwback than a thrown together. And it’s not just that the original rhythm section is alive but absent (Adler, after all, may have a legitimate excuse). It’s that the guys replacing them were part of the dubious Chinese Democracy-era of Guns n’ Roses, from which Axl Rose was its lone original member. The inclusion of the anti-Izzy, Richard Fortus, and anti-Adler, Frank Ferrer, are equivalent to Axl marking his territory, pissing on the notion that this Guns n’ Roses is anything but his band. It’s not unlike a Chinese democracy.

Even before this Guns n’ Roses played a single note, it was clear the quasi-reformation would occur only on Axl’s terms. Immediately after Slash gave an August 2015 interview confirming that he and Axl had mended fences, he shut the fuck up. Slash didn’t say and hasn’t said another word to the press, and neither has Duff, two guys that, up til then, would talk to anyone about anything and even provide the de rigueur soundbite about their feelings on a possible GNR reunion. Hell, they wrote books about their days in GNR and their relationship with Axl, and did tours to promote them. Then, suddenly, nothing, not a word. Just like Axl would have wanted, and probably (definitely!) demanded. The mercurial singer, of course, refuses interviews because interviewers would have the audacity to question his lack of productivity, his refusal to go on stage on time, him cancelling shows no little explanation, why he hates everyone …. Did we miss anything?

They, of course, were careful never to use the word “reunion” because the promoters, booking agents, manager, lawyers, accountants and, oh yeah, the band knew this Guns n’ Roses was as much the classic line-up as it was the Chinese Democracy one.

Plus, silence was the best way to confirm what they already knew, that this wasn’t really a GNR “reunion,” but something that would just have to pass for one. I can’t shake the feeling that Live Nation did market research to ascertain the market value of three-fifths of GNR. And then, after some surveys and focus groups, they determined it best to say nothing about the line-up—beyond Axl, Slash and Duff’s participation—and allow conjecture to serve as promotion. They, of course, were careful never to use the word “reunion” because the promoters, booking agents, manager, lawyers, accountants and, oh yeah, the band knew this Guns n’ Roses was as much the classic line-up as it was the Chinese Democracy one.

The encore, of course, are the set lists. They scream despotism. Axl has released exactly one studio album since Slash and Duff left GNR in the ‘90s, while Slash and Duff, collectively, have released 12, including two together in Velvet Revolver (which also featured Sorum). But, somehow, Axl has decided that this Guns n’ Roses perform songs from Chinese Democracy, an album that Slash and Duff had as much to do with as whoever’s still reading this rant (unless, of course, Buckethead can read from underneath his bucket). It’s unprecedented. Vince Neil wouldn’t perform anything from the Motley Crue album that featured his temporary replacement, David Lee Roth won’t play anything from Van Hagar and, clearly, Axl won’t play anything from Velvet Revolver even though, technically, Velvet Revolver is more Guns n’ Roses than the previous version of Guns n’ Roses was.

It may be hard to remember now, but, back in the day, Guns n’ Roses felt like a band. Sure, Axl and Slash were its ambassadors, much like Lennon and McCartney, Jagger and Richards, Daltrey and Townshend and Plant and Page, but it still felt like a unit of talented misfits. They were, at one time, the biggest band in the world. And now, sure they’ll be playing stadiums, just like they did on the Use Your Illusion tour 23 years ago, but for very different reasons. Then, they were promoting dual albums chock full of songs destined for classic-rock greatness, and now they’re simply promoting the auspices of nostalgia, and nothing else. (They reunited, what, six months ago and couldn’t record a single new song?) Axl has released but one album of new songs in 25 years—that’s insane!—and is, in no uncertain terms, Slash and Duff’s boss. Meet the new boss; there was no old boss.


  1. Chris

    April 10, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    What is your point? You trying to get something started or something? It is what it is. Maybe a cash grab while giving fans an “as good as it gets” version of what we have waited on for the past 23 years. It’s not a reunion. It’s Duff and Slash rejoining the current version of Guns. Appreciate it for what it is and write somethung positive.

    • Dennis

      April 12, 2016 at 9:07 am

      His point is that he’s posting a negative review in order to attract traffic. It seems that more and more websites are on the money grab train, rather than GnR. It’s just another guy with internet connection sharing his biased view on something he doesn’t even care about. A damn fine specimen of shitty DNA if I may add.

  2. Hays

    April 10, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    You know nothing about the band or its intentions with this tour. You can only express your dissatisfaction, which has nothing to do with anything outside of your own personal agendas and problems. Please keep wasting your time rehashing repeated in-media and entitled so-called fanboy complaining hot air. You’ve proven your website to be boring and worthless.

  3. Duff

    April 11, 2016 at 2:24 am

    Uhh Izzy was offered to take part and declined. Steven was going to take part but injured his back. And maybe axl slash and duff all decided not to speak to the press. Your doing a lot of assuming with your article and presenting it like they’re facts. Terrible journalism my man.

  4. Wayne

    April 11, 2016 at 8:15 am

    Dude, go outside. Get some sun.

  5. Severo

    April 11, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    This more pile on for the “Axl is an egomanical asshole” axe that has been grinding heavily since Use Your Illusions was released.

    We know. He knows. Sometimes you just have to let it go. He pulled some rock star bullshit, or maybe the accounts of fear and paranoia are accurate.

    Regardless…of was near a quarter of a century ago. Maybe it is time to let those questions fade and focus on the recent developments.

    Ask how excited he is for him and his friends to be together again?

    Ask how he feels after this your possibly recording an album? Or if this tour is a test for them to see if they could produce an album together again?

    Maybe a new avenue has to be taken. This is an artist after all, not a politician who’s policies will be guiding a Nation.

  6. Ava

    April 11, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    This article is clearly an illusion. Were you at the Troubadour? Or in Las Vegas? Or are you just jealous of a man who had the determination to never give up despite all of the haters? When was the last time you released a number one album? Give it up already. The last three concerts were mind blowing! I am so excited to be seeing GNR on tour!

  7. Jeff

    April 11, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    “WAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!! Axl and Guns N’ Roses aren’t talking to the press! WAAAAAAAHHHH!”

    …and with your proud ignorance, entitlement, and cheap shots at the band, no wonder they don’t want to talk to charming folks like yourself!

    You know who’s THRILLED right now? Well, me, for one. I was actually there. Happy customer here, and it wasn’t cheap. I’d venture to guess, at minimum, 38,000 of the 39,000+ who attended the two Vegas shows are thrilled as well.

    And you’re a sad little puppy writing your blog in your mom’s basement. I can see why you’re upset.

  8. overmatik

    August 29, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    This is just Slash having to pay for his divorce. I can only imagine the level of humiliation that Slash had to submit himself to be accepted back in the band. It’s Axl’s band and Slash and Duff are just hired Guns, like the rest. Duff and Slash playing Chinese Democracy songs is the most surreal thing I ever saw! And then you have the insane ticket prices that they are charging. A cash grab reunion for nostalgia’s sake, no more, no less.

  9. Allen Tomas

    September 5, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Hey,it makes people happy in this Hillary /Donald show. Let us enjoy without labels. There here today why worry about tomorrow, not in the surreal world of rock and roll! Also, you sir are a little piece of lint in a vacuum cleaner bag .

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