Guns n Roses at The Marquee Club

I have very few regrets in life….

Perhaps I should have danced with that pretty brunette at the school disco when I was ten years old instead of looking horrified. On reflection I didn’t take enough care when using that scalpel when twelve, resulting in an unscheduled trip to A&E.  As a teenager that haircut was pretty bad, and I was probably slow to discover that the use of sarcasm wasn’t always a winning strategy to get people on your side.

Perhaps my biggest regret however was knowing about the three dates that Guns n Roses played in June 1987 at The Marquee Club in London’s Wardour Street and deciding that I wouldn’t go. For my generation, that’s like passing up the chance to see The Beatles at The Cavern Club. Three times.

It gets worse. I even had a money off voucher. Metal Hammer magazine had one that gave a pound off seeing either Tesla or Guns n Roses at The Marquee.

Like a foolhardy quiz show contestant deciding that the capital of Spain is b) Barcelona, I went to see Tesla.

Now: Tesla were great. And they were even better when they supported Def Leppard a few months later and I had a front row ticket. But Guns n Roses, in hindsight, were better. To use another Beatles analogy, I feel like Dick Rowe: the man at Decca who passed on The Beatles, saying “guitar bands are on their way out”. Damn.

Thank goodness for the front row ticket I got to see Guns n Roses support Aerosmith at Hammersmith Odeon just a few months later. Amazing seats. Great gig. Or so it would have been had it not been cancelled. Double Damn. That was the best gig I never went to. Read that again. Front Row. Hammersmith. Guns n Roses and Aerosmith. 1987.

To be fair, the Marquee gigs were prior to the release of Appetite For Destruction. I had heard Night Train on the Friday Rock Show and liked it, but I also liked Aerosmith’s new songs from Permanent Vacation. In 1987 (is that really 25 years ago?!) I was a huge Aerosmith fan, and GnR‘s sound was heavily influenced by those ’70s Aerosmith albums like Rocks, which were still relatively unknown in the UK. To me, GnR were the newest and best of a large number of similar American bands like Mötley Crüe, Ratt, Poison and Faster Pussycat. And as good as Appetite was, Aerosmith were resurgent and seemed to be “the real thing”…

In hindsight of course, Aerosmith’s ’80s and ’90s output was a pale shadow of their ’70s albums – and GnR’s Appetite… was streets ahead of even Permanent Vacation – released at around the same time.

In a wait almost as long as one of Axl’s stage appearances, it still took a year for Appetite For Destruction’s popularity to reach beyond the Kerrang! reading cognoscenti. By then, Sweet Child of Mine was a global hit and they were a lowly fifth on the bill at 1988’s Monsters of Rock at Castle Donington – and I wasn’t going to miss the chance to see them again…

(I’ll come to that show another time).

Axl Rose June 2006

Axl Rose and Guns n Roses at The Hammersmith Apollo June 2006:
Taken on my Nokia 6230i: Hi tech stuff…

Fast forward nineteen years to June 2006. A Donington warm up show. Chinese Democracy has yet to be heard (officially anyway) and the wait has lasted longer than the entire career of The Beatles. I am at at the front of the Hammersmith Apollo crowd. It is 10.45pm. I have already sent a text to a friend living in London to get his spare room ready: I have no chance of catching my last train. Axl – the only original member of that line up still standing – was due on stage two hours ago. He’s almost as late in arriving as his countrymen were in the Second World War. The crowd are booing. So am I.

The lights darken and the opening notes of Welcome To The Jungle ring out…

Everyone goes absolutely mental.

The show is a triumph. It was genuinely brilliant. Two thirds of Appetite… is played. Sebastian Bach of Skid Row joins Axl during the show. Bumblefoot’s guitar turns into a butterfly (or something)…

You could write a book about the odd things that have gone on around Guns n Roses. Indeed Slash wrote a very entertaining one. But there’s a reason why some bands reach legendary status. It’s because of their songs. And because they can still deliver a performance. Even if it’s two hours late…

The sign outside Hammersmith Apollo that night. More quality photography from the Every Record studios…

Guns n Roses start their UK tour tonight – they’ll be onstage in Nottingham in about four hours. After midnight. Probably.

Guns n Roses also play Liverpool, Newcastle, Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and London’s O2 Arena. They will be great. But book a hotel.

Record #46: Guns n Roses – Welcome To The Jungle

Categories: Hard Rock, Music

Tags: , , , , ,

27 replies

  1. Great piece. You’re right about early GN’R, they were simply seen as the latest LA rock band after WASP and Motely Crue etc. Who knew that Appetite would be so definitive, so long-lasting, so transcendent?


  2. They playing with Axl? He totally pussed out on the RnR Hall of Fame performance last month.


    • It’s just Axl from the original line up…


      • Gotcha I was picturing him sitting on the couch with beer and potato chip on his belly. Lost a lot of respect for him not going to the RnR Hall of Fame induction of GnR. Go there with your own posse and pretend your cooler than the rest of the band but you better f’n go!
        Enjoy the show though…lol. We got Van Halen to look forward to in San Diego soon!


      • Van Halen? Haven’t they just cancelled thirty shows? Hope San Diego isn’t one of them…


    • Did you read his rambling letter that he wrote about why he wasn’t attending? Pretty strange stuff. The man’s a genius, but very very *complicated*.


      • or to put it another way, “Always Late”…


      • I read the letter I liked what he had to say..the parts about not wanting any part of the honor…but c’mon just go!

        I never saw Axl as a genius maybe as a self promoter? Whats your thought?

        GnR played at the Back Door at San Diego State before they were big to a couple 100 people…that was missed by most of us here.


      • Axll a genius? Of course! Look, as nuts as he might be, GnR’s albums have been some of the best hard rock ever made. I personally think CHINESE DEMOCRACY is one of the most underrated albums of all time–this from the man who also brought us APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION.

        If anything, he’s a bit of an anti-self promoter, I mean his bizzarre behavior (showing up late, taking forever to put out an album, wearing that awful yellow hat in South America, doing little to no press interviews) hurts his legacy and his pocketbook, so I’m not sure how he’s a very good self-promoter.

        I would love to see GnR live, but I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.


      • I guess self promoter in a passive aggressive way. He is always in the news for something odd fighting, verbal jousts, falling off stage, not going to the Hall of Fame induction. I think GnR kind of disappointed me over the years. They got super group status with one album and to me never did much more…but then I am not really a fan so am anti-biased. I cant hardly even listen to Appetite any more cause it is too over played. That said it would be cool to see the original line up again.


  3. Agreed… hindsight is 20/20. The opportunity to see GnR back in the day, with their music and Axl’s charisma as a frontman, is priceless.


  4. I’m a few years younger and from the east coast, US. I do remember that GnR was a big name in England before they were recognizable outside of Los Angeles. I would guess it’s because Jungle got some air time over there, while in the US, no music execs would touch it till after Sweet Child came out.


  5. You’re not the only one. I was invited to this gig by friends but as I was getting married the next week, I had to go flat hunting with my intended. Worse, my friends said that after the show, they went for a curry with G&R!


  6. Pretty jealous that you’ve actually seen GNR. Great post (awesome phone pic).


  7. Guns N Roses at Wembley Arena, here in London, UK …abso-freakin-lutely one of the best nights of my life!


  8. Seeing Axl perform is like sighting a snow leopard in the wild. You have to be willing to spend half a lifetime waiting tracking him down, then wait for him to come to you … and you may want to eat before you go. But you’ll have a great tale to tell. Wow – what a story!


  9. I was at one of the Marquee gigs. Swear you can hear me singing on ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’.


  10. The Hammersmith ’87 gig wasn’t cancelled entirely. It went ahead with GnR stepping up to headline, Faster Pussycat and (I think) Quireboys.


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