They might feel a slightly odd fit for Glastonbury, but that isn’t stopping Guns N’ Roses giving it everything they’ve got tonight. Axl Rose sprints around the stage with the gusto of a man half his age; Slash is a spinning, soloing, stomping ball of energy; Duff McKagan hammers at his bass like he’s playing a grotty punk show in front of five hundred people rather than main eventing the world’s biggest music festival. It all makes for a riotously fun Saturday night on the Pyramid Stage, the LA hair metal titans clearly in no mood to entertain the notion that they have no business being here.
Admittedly, it takes a little while for things to get cooking; kicking off with two relatively deeper cuts in It’s So Easy and Bad Obsession misses an opportunity to get the more casual fans in attendance immediately onside, Chinese Democracy’s title track dropping soon after to little fanfare. In fact, it’s not even a Guns song that draws the first major singalongs of the evening: a rollocking take on Velvet Revolver’s Slither earns that accolade. Then, however, there’s a major gear change: Slash begins teasing Welcome To The Jungle, the atmosphere immediately kicks up a few notches and we are officially off to the races.
Guns N’ Roses might not have quite the same pop culture footprint as fellow Pyramid alumni like the Rolling Stones or Paul McCartney, but when the big moments come, they do so emphatically: the singalong to Sweet Child O’ Mine’s lead riff is louder than Slash himself, while his November Rain solo draws spades of enthusiastic air guitar all over the joint.
Well-worn covers of Wings’ Live And Let Die and Bob Dylan’s Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door also go down a treat, as does a jovial cameo from Dave Grohl, who comes bounding out on stage to ecstatic cheers as the Guns kick into a rapturously received Paradise City.
Axl’s voice has undoubtedly seen better days, but there are more than enough glimpses of greatness to carry him through, and when you’re throwing yourself as enthusiastically into everything as he is, some occasional squeaks and squawks are easily forgiven. Plus, even if they’re a little out of their comfort zone, there’s something undoubtedly special about seeing he and Slash shoulder to shoulder on such an iconic stage.
“Thank you for having us,” Axl courteously beams near the end of the band’s set. Guns N’ Roses were never gonna steal the show this weekend, but sometimes, a couple of hours of earnestly played hard rock bangers on a Saturday night is all you need. Job done.