Concert review: Guns N’ Roses – TD Place, Ottawa – August 21 2017

A mere 48 after witnessing Guns N’ Roses in Montreal, I was ready to go another round, this time in Ottawa. Would the show be as good?

The band played almost the same setlist, simply swapping out “New Rose” to replace “Attitude”. Again, they were slightly ahead of the announced 7:30 show time, certainly not something we’re used to with this band! The band launched, or maybe I should say exploded into “It’s So Easy” to kick things off. If I felt they’d needed a few songs to really get cooking in Montreal, that wasn’t the case now: they were on! Being up close to the stage this time, I could see the band members were having a blast. Even Axl was smiling all night long.

There’s a human element in music that makes performances unpredictable. It’s not just about playing the notes. and sometimes that human element takes the music to a higher level. This is the state the band was in on Monday, as they tore through their set of classic tracks, deep cuts and covers, all performed flawlessly with the passion and fire that made this band huge.

Slash was burning up the fretboard, whether jamming with second guitarist Richard Fortus or playing those classic solos. Duff McKagan laid down the bass, looking cool as ever. And Axl Rose was running around the stage all night, hitting those crazy notes and screaming his ass off.

As in Montreal, the only weak point was “Better” from the much maligned “Chinese Democracy”, but the title track and a vocal showcase “This I Love” from the same album fared much better, with Slash and Duff putting their mark on the newer songs. Also, seeing them cover AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie” with all the swagger the band can bring was worth the admission by itself.

It was my third show on the “Not in This Lifetime” tour, and I can honestly say that not only was it the best of the three, but it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot. It’s easy to be cynical about a reunion tour like this, after years of acrimony between the band members, but when the results are this good, who cares. Let’s just hope they have some new music in them.

Opening the evening was “Our Lady Peace”, who seemed more on than they were in Montreal too. Great show from them too.

Jean-Frederic Vachon
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