Guns N’ Roses 2016 reunion: Get ready for a ruined legacy
For the vast majority of the world’s music-loving population, one lingering element of the past two decades was the whole “What if Axl Rose and Slash managed to bury the hatchet and reform Guns N’ Roses? Wouldn’t that be amazing?” Think about it: the baddest band of their generation – a group that punched hair metal in its teeth and brought danger and true artistic mastery back to rock and roll – once again filling stadiums and leaving a path of chaos in their wake.
At face value, the original lineup taking the stage together for the first time since 1993 (Slash left in 1996, thus ending the band in the ears of anyone with taste) sounds like a dream come true. And in the last week or so the GNR website, along with its social media accounts, has been teasing us with the possibility. However, taking a step back from the hype machine and fan boy dreams, this pending reunion is an even worse idea than The Spaghetti Incident.
It’s been more than two decades since the band’s breakup, and instead of the well-honed, early thirty-something hard rockers they were, Guns N’ Roses are now a group of 50-something dads. The band members have grown up and out of the caricatures they were when GNR ruled the world, and with that comes a less aggressive approach to life in general. Much like punk rock bands rarely perform more than a decade, the similar fire of youth was extinguished during the era when MTV still mattered. For comparative proof, see the last decade of Metallica, Mötley Crüe, or Aerosmith.
While many may dream that the band will simply step back into their former selves, gone are the days of a whiskey-fueled headline machine that caused riots, show cancellations, on-stage storm offs, and fist fights with fans on a regular basis. What remains is a group of middle-aged men on a cash grab from the nostalgia demographic. The band members no doubt understand this is a last hurrah financially, and to get that money, every show must be played in full and without the excessive drama that made them legends.
Nobody can question GNR and their place near the top of the greatest rock bands in music history. From the vicious, unbridled attack of Appetite For Destruction to the sheer brilliance that is the entirety of the Use Your Illusion records, the band embodied everything that it meant to be rock and roll icons. The played fast, loud and hard, and to this day remain respected as a monstrous live act beyond comparison.
But, with that in mind, the reality remains that there is no other band with a greater legacy to be ruined. The idea of past-their-prime, PG versions of a once mighty band, attempting to relive their glory days in front of a similarly-minded crowd is a depressing, yet seemingly inevitable image. Is seeing GNR-lite really worth ruining a legacy of being so true to the music that the band imploded at their peak?
In the end, if you need to hear someone deliver a disgraceful rendition of Axl Rose’s original vocals, you’re better off going to a local karaoke bar instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars to let the band ruin your memories of greatness.