Talk of a Guns N Roses reunion started right about the moment the door closed behind Slash as he walked away from the band in 1996. After almost two decades of full on denial including lists of demands that would need to be met for party A to even consider sitting in a room with party B, silly social media hints and leaks started to trickle out towards the end of 2015 leading to a full on confirmation of at least a couple shows at the ultra-hip annual Coachella Festival. Now the rumors are: “Will they do a tour?” “Are tickets really going to be north of $250.” “Is Steven going to be allowed to wave at fans while they play?” Whether you plan on going or not. Whether you care or not. This is one of the biggest stories in rock in the last decade. Even the ‘wink-wink’ cryptic social media posts that foreshadowed the official announcement stole headlines. Axl and Slash being buddies is big news. And them playing as GNR again is even bigger news. But what does it mean?
Speaking with a friend in his 20’s, he says wants to see it because by simple birthdate he wasn’t able to before. But I was. I love Guns N Roses. They are in many ways the greatest band of my era. And I couldn’t give two shits about this reunion of sorts. Not because Steven isn’t there. He was barely there in the beginning. It seems so much time has passed that people have forgotten or just never knew how short his stint in the band was. Plus he’s a disaster as a person and a drummer. I wouldn’t want to see the band with Steven in 1992 much less 2016. And while it would be better with Izzy that was never likely. (I should say there is talk of there being possibly some level of involvement of both members but nothing is confirmed yet.) I don’t care because I already saw it. There is no chance it will be as good. And it will cost way more. Much like Nirvana but for different reasons, Guns was never meant to be a band that lasts. Such as it is these decisions aren’t mine to make.
When Guns N Roses last toured (with Slash and Duff in the band) what other rock bands were capable of a tour of this magnitude? Metallica. Rolling Stones. Paul McCartney. U2. Forward that to today. That list is pretty much the same. So on one level it’s encouraging that younger fans are finding their way to the music of my generation, it’s largely been done at the expense of the future of rock music. The modern day parent seems to have forgotten that discovering these bands without their parents is part of the reason they still mean so much to them. Combine that with a generation that doesn’t know what ‘Stereo’ means and doesn’t think it’s stupid to pay $300 for a pair of headphones for listening to streaming services with, and the end result is so obvious it should require no explanation. While most can see the problem, no one has an answer.
So what does some of the original Guns N Roses reuniting mean? Well, it probably means Axl’s pile of money finally got small enough he started to miss his old buddy Saul. But for those of us who grew up in a time when every generation produced its own mega-stars, it’s a sign that the glaciers are melting. Extinction is near. In many ways, Guns N Roses filling stadiums is the epilogue to a story started by Elvis and Johnny Cash. You can’t replace the physical format with apathy. You can’t replace passion with an emoji. And you can’t force the young to care. Sure there’s always hope but as you’re plunking down a couple hundred bucks to take your kid to see YOUR favorite band keep this in mind. When I last saw Guns N Roses it was with Metallica and Faith No More. All bands in their prime. It cost $25.