Guns n Roses – Saitama Super Arena, Jan. 29, 2017
They don’t call it a Super Arena for nothing. Under a cavernous roof in the second largest indoor arena in the world, 35,000 people were spread around a giant floor space, which was packed with chairs (no General Admission tickets for this show) to see GnR, and they didn’t disappoint.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend the money on Axl and company until I heard all the great reviews coming out of the States. This was something I needed to see for myself! And I’m glad I did. The arena is entirely too big for a concert. GnR have an enormous show, and even they were too small for this place. It has hosted Metallica, Iron Maiden and annually the Loud Park festival, but we were seated in the back half away from the stage, and it wasn’t nearly loud enough, further cementing my dislike for arena shows.
In addition, there are almost no vending areas! The line for beer (or water or popcorn, if you’re into that sort of thing) was more than half an hour! I hate lines, so we joked this was the most sober we’ve ever been to see a show. That was actually a good thing since the lines to the bathroom were almost as long.
Even against all those odds, though, Axl, Slash, Duff, Richard Fortus and the rest of the band played a really enjoyable show. And a long one at that – 26 songs for well more than 2 and a half hours. They focused heavily on Appetite but even played 3 songs from Chinese Democracy. I’m obviously not against new music, but except “Sorry”, these didn’t fit well in the setlist. There were other good departures, though, too.
Duff did a really nice job with a cover of The Damned’s “New Rose”. We all laughingly sang along to “Used to Love Her”. And their cover of “The Seeker” in the encore was great (although I think most of the crowd was confused – probably few of them had ever heard it!). Back to the basics, “Live and Let Die” sounded great live, and led into 2 more favorites, “Rocket Queen” (with its video of skeletons in NSFW positions) and “You Could Be Mine”. Thankfully they gave “Jungle” a new intro with a great buildup to one of the most overplayed songs of all time. I thought the “Wish You Were Here” guitar duet between Slash and Fortus leading into Axl playing the outro from “Layla,” before starting up “November Rain” was brilliant. And they finished strong with “Don’t Cry”, “The Seeker” and “Paradise”, which for some reason I never get tired of hearing.
I know Japan is late to the party, and the setlist is fairly static from one show to the next, as are the visuals, but seeing Axl running from one end of the stage to the other (which had to be nearly 50 yards), and Slash spinning in circles and jumping off the risers, it looks like they’re having fun and around to stay for a while. Could new music be too far in the future?
Photos by: Masahiro Kawakami
“It’s So Easy”
“Welcome To The Jungle”
“Double Talkin’ Jive”
“Live And Let Die” (Wings cover)
“You Could Be Mine”
“New Rose”（The Damned cover）
“This I Love”
“Speak Softly Love”（Love Theme from The Godfather – instrumental）
“Sweet Child O’ Mine”
“Used To Love Her”
“Out Ta Get Me”
“Wish You Were Here”（Pink Floyd cover – instrumental）
“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”（Bob Dylan cover）
“The Seeker”（The Who cover）