Guns ‘N’ Roses live review by Ryan Beardsley/

It’s Rock n Roll day at BST Hyde Park and the lineup is so good, even a slight Summer drizzle can’t dampen the spirits.

The Darkness are first up, a band that 20 years ago this summer was headlining the Reading and Leeds festivals and in truth, I’d forgotten what a unique live act they are.

We get the hits, some genuinely funny audience interaction and even an impromptu rendition of what should have been a Christmas no1. Justin Hawkins looks better than ever and his voice hasn’t lost any of its power as the band crash through I Believe In A Thing Called Love and depart the stage, there’s tangible disappointment that they’re leaving so soon. The brothers Hawkins et al could have gone for another hour with the crowd in the palm of their hands, but short and sweet though it was, a massive treat all nevertheless.

Next on stage is genuine legend Chrissie Hynde with The Pretenders and I’m staggered by how great she looks and sounds at the ripe old age of 71! She’s in great spirits, regaling the crowd in a tale or two and dedicating a song here and there and her joy of being on stage is infectious.

Let The Sun Come In sadly goes unanswered as the clouds refuse to break up, but aside from that wishful thinking it’s a solid set with a special shoutout to guitarist James Walbourne whose extraordinary talent and charisma threatened to steal the limelight from Hynde on a couple of occasions. But by the time I’ll Stand By You is performed and I’ve tricked my mother on WhatsApp into thinking that Girls Aloud performed it first, the crowd is aching for the main event.

19:20 rolls around and the bars are still full of people like me, blissful in our ignorance that Guns n Roses never start on time meaning we can enjoy another beer at least, and then an almighty crash din is heard and the unthinkable has occurred, Axl Rose is painfully punctual!

A mad dash begins across Hyde Park as thousands leave their drinks and pizzas behind and head to the main stage for possibly the only true classic rock band left on the planet, they do not disappoint…

From the opening salvo, it’s clear to all those in attendance that we’re in for something special. After last week’s Glastonbury headline slot was maligned by the majority in the media who don’t like rock music/men, it’s almost as if the band have something to prove (they don’t) and they set about performing a show for the ages.

When Welcome To The Jungle kicks in, the place comes unglued like 75 thousand people have been transported back to The Troubadour in 1986 LA, top hats, bandanas and beer go flying into the air and everyone in the crowd is suddenly 19 years old again and do they ever want to show it.

Axl Rose might have lost it during the band’s fallow years but he sounds great again tonight, he can still screech with the best of them and he barely stops moving for a second, marching around the stage and whipping the audience into a frenzy with every yelp.

But it’s far from a one-man show, Slash has an undeniable aura and there aren’t many guitarists who can stand front and centre in front of Hyde Park and riff solo to his heart’s content and have the crowd begging for more. Founding member Duff McKagan is also on top form on bass and gets to go centre stage for a wicked little cover of Stooges classic T.V, Eye while Rose takes a well-earned breather.

The highlight of the night is November Rain, Rose on the ivories, Slash centre stage and right on cue the clouds above Hyde Park start to leak and we get a very literal atmosphere, I don’t need to tell you it only adds to the experience. There’s a handful of live music moments you never forget and I’ve seen my share but this moment and that riff in full abandon, words simply cannot do it justice.

There’s still time for Paradise City and one last indulgence for those in attendance, a real mixed crowd of kids, teens, and in some cases those who might probably know better, but tonight in Hyde Park they all come together to salute legends on stage for probably the last time. I never really cared for Glastonbury anyway…

Check the link here for more tickets and events at BST.

Photo Copyright © Guilherme Nunes Cunha Neto

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