Guns N’ Roses Bring The Energy And The Hits To Glastonbury 2023

L.A.-hailing hard rock legends Guns N’ Roses come with both their famous hits and legacy of, well, destruction if you pardon the pun. The band formed in the mid-1980’s when the band L.A. Guns needed a new vocalist and found him by way of Axel Rose, and so Guns N’ Roses was born. The band shot to superstardom within two years, following the release of #1-charting debut LP Appetite For Destruction and it’s slew of hit singles. Stories from the road and frontman Rose’s temperament were just as wild as their continuing hits until the group’s self-destruction in the mid-1990s, with only the frontman remaining from the core line-up and continuing to make headlines for diva-like behaviour and late on-stage times.

Guns N' Roses @ Glastonbury Festival 2023

Guns N' Roses @ Glastonbury Festival 2023 (Kalpesh Patel)
Guns N' Roses @ Glastonbury Festival 2023 (Kalpesh Patel)

Come 2015, and both guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan re-joined and the new era of the stadium-touring legacy rockers was born. And so, when this year’s final two Glastonbury Festival headliners were announced (Elton John announced last year), it was with some trepidation that the news was received.

But as Axel Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan took to the Pyramid Stage for the first time and on time (quite unlike Other Stage opposite number Lana Del Rey), joined by keyboard man Dizzy Reed, guitarist Richard Fortus, sticksman Frank Ferrer and keyboardist Melissa Reese, we knew it would be a good night! Appetite single It’s So Easy kicked off the set, and immediately had the crowd bouncing along.

Sure, Rose’s signature voice and it’s 6-octave range haven’t survived the test of time quite as well as Slash’s virtuoso guitar skills (or stage-jumping antics!), but the group brought an energy that simply didn’t even make the packing list for the previous evening’s downbeat headline set from Arctic Monkeys.

Sure, the mammoth 2-hour set is a paired-back outing of Guns’ current stadium tour (which runs 3 non-stop, ear-bleeding hours) and features a lot of music that isn’t so familiar to the casual listener. But that’s fine, it’s delivered with a level of energy and showmanship that places GNR firmly in the correct position, topping the bill at Worthy Farm. This does mean that droves of folks filling out the Pyramid field lose interest and depart to find another adventure. Their loss!

5 songs in, hit single Welcome To The Jungle pulls back a few who might have thought about alternative plans, Mr. Brownstone keeping them firmly rooted as Axel, Duff and Slash make the most of the vast Pyramid runway, stretching from the edge of one flanking screen to the other. Seriously, these guys bring it and I don’t know how they keep it up for tune after tune as the moon hangs low above the Pyramid Stage this clear June night.

Wings cover and James Bond film theme, given a new lease of life with Guns’ 1991 cover, Live And Let Die is introduced as celebrating it’s 50th’s year. A shoutout to it’s writer Paul McCartney, who had been spotted watching The Pretenders at The Park Stage earlier, is offered by Rose, the song receiving the biggest singalong of the night thus far.

The hits are largely all present and accounted for, Civili War repurposed to highlight the current war in Ukraine, You Could Be Mine, Sweet Child O’ Mine, November Rain, Patience, Bob Dylan cover Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door and Nightrain delight. Don’t Cry is missed. And while no encore is offered, Guns N’ Roses close their explosive set in style with 1988 hit single Paradise City. “We’re gonna bring out a friend” Rose teases before introducing Foo Fighters’ frontman Dave Grohl. “Because, there’s never such a thing as too many guitars” the frontman continues. And while totally unnecessary, and the subject of many a meme, the tune’s famous intro, coupled with the addition of Grohl sends the Pyramid field into a frenzy.

Guns N' Roses @ Glastonbury Festival 2023

Dave Grohl & Duff McKagan with Guns N' Roses @ Glastonbury Festival 2023 (Kalpesh Patel)
Dave Grohl & Duff McKagan with Guns N' Roses @ Glastonbury Festival 2023 (Kalpesh Patel)

Say what you will, of course you’re entitled to your own opinion, but watching that set from the middle of a packed Pyramid field was pure joy, something Glastonbury Festival is really all about. Well done boys!

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Words and photos by Kalpesh Patel at Glastonbury Festival 2023.

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