Leading up to this show there was the usual disheartened rumblings about the latest UK tour by Axl Rose and the current incarnation of Guns N’ Roses. Late starts, even later finishes and the tantrums and arguments about fans showing there disapproval at being treated so shabbily. I had missed out on seeing the original line up and my only experience was the shambolic Download Festival appearance in 2006, so I was wary of seeing this show again, but I was here and ready to forget all about that show if this was an improvement (it had to be). The years of problems the band had had with shows had taken its toll as the arena was nowhere near full, the top section closed off completely.

First up was Thin Lizzy, and I had heard only good things about this latest line up, and going by this show Ricky Warwick (formerly of The Almighty) was an inspired choice to front the band. Given the chance to play a full set, they launched ‘Are You Ready’ before an early appearance of ‘Jailbreak’ to get the place moving. The band played just over 75 minutes and set a very high standard for the headliners to follow. Songs were dedicated to late band members (and all round rock legends) Gary Moore and Phil Lynott, and the seated fans were told to stand up during the last couple of songs as Warwick told them “Rock N Roll ain’t supposed to be comfortable” to which the crowd responded well.

You can knock Axl’s attitude towards the shows and his fans, plenty of people have and will continue to do so (I have on many occasion), but when he is on form he is one of the most charismatic frontmen around. Apart from his frequent trips to his own special tent at the side of the stage there was no let up in this three hour show, and such a strong set list (30+ songs is some going) will always please fans who manage to stick around till the early hours. His voice held up well, and the rest of the band were faithful to the old material.

Alongside the usual covers of ‘Live And Let Die’ and ‘Knockin’ On Heavens Door’, there was time for a few bars of Pink Floyd‘s ‘Another Brick In the Wall’ before ‘November Rain’ and a storming version of AC/DC’s ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ which made sure the fans stayed with the band despite the late time. The inclusion of so many solos disrupted the flow of the night a little, and the “Chinese Democracy” songs don’t stand up too well in a set full of classics from the “Appetite…” and “…Illusion” era. Highlights of the night for me were ‘Civil War’ and ‘Estranged’ which showed that when he is in the right mood, some epic songs on a suitably epic night. There could probably be an hour trimmed off this set and it would be, but this is Axl Rose, and no one is going to tell him how to run his show.

If he stuck to regular stage times and on this form they should sell the place out, but an arena show is expensive enough these days without having to worry about having to fork out for a hotel just because the band like to do things differently. If you can put out of your mind everything that went on the last time they came over here and go and see it with an open mind, then it was a quality nights entertainment. It was 2:15 by the time I got out of the Arena, and after missing the last bus, it was gone 5am by the time I got home, but was definitely worth the wait.

Thin Lizzy setlist:
Are Your Ready – Jailbreak – Waiting For An Alibi – Killer On The Loose – Dancing In The Moonlight (It’s Caught Me In The Spotlight) – Whiskey In The Jar – Suicide – Angel Of Death – Emerald – Rosalie – Don’t Believe A Word – Roisin Dubh (Black Rose): A Rock Legend – Cowboy Song – The Boys Are Back In Town

Guns N’ Roses setlist:
Chinese Democracy – Welcome To The Jungle – It’s So Easy – Mr Brownstone – Sorry – Rocket Queen – Estranged – Better – Guitar Solo – Live & Let Die – This Is Love – Motivation – Guitar Solo – Street Of Dreams – You Could Be Mine – Guitar Solo – Sweet Child O’ Mine – Another Brick In The Wall – Piano Solo – November Rain – Glad To Be Here (Bumblefoot) – Don’t Cry – Civil War – Shackler’s Revenge – Knockin’ On Heavens Door – Nightrain – Madagascar – Whole Lotta Rosie – Duelling Banjos – Patience – Jam – Paradise City – My Way