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APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.

Cheers!
SoulMonster

2018.06.04 - Music Week - Lifetime's Ambition: The inside story of Guns N' Roses record-breaking reunion tour

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2018.06.04 - Music Week - Lifetime's Ambition: The inside story of Guns N' Roses record-breaking reunion tour Empty 2018.06.04 - Music Week - Lifetime's Ambition: The inside story of Guns N' Roses record-breaking reunion tour

Post by Blackstar Tue Jan 23, 2024 11:03 am

Lifetime's Ambition: The inside story of Guns N' Roses record-breaking reunion tour

by James Hanley

Guns N’ Roses’ Not In This Lifetime… reunion tour has become the fourth highest grossing in history – and it’s still going. Here, Music Week speaks to a trio of the live execs who helped make it happen…

A melting pot of live music in West Hollywood, California for over 50 years, The Troubadour seeps rock’n’roll history from its every pore. The stories to have emanated from within its walls are legion: the fabled LA nightspot was where Don Henley met Glenn Frey, where Elton John played his first US show and from where John Lennon and Harry Nilsson were once ejected for drunkenly heckling The Smothers Brothers.

And on March 26, 1985, it added another notch to its bedpost, hosting the very first gig by an irrepressible band of hellraisers known as Guns N’ Roses.

Thirty-one years later, 500 or so lucky punters crammed into the same intimate club on the outskirts of Beverly Hills to witness the rebirth of three fifths of the “classic” GNR line-up (guitarist Izzy Stradlin and drummer Steven Adler did not take part).

Egged on by a fervent crowd including A-list guests Jim Carrey, Lenny Kravitz and Nicolas Cage, it was a heart-warming yet surreal scene that once seemed as unlikely as a reality TV star with no political experience being elected president of the free world. A secret warm-up gig for their official comeback at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena on April 8, it marked the first time singer Axl Rose, guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan had shared a stage since 1993. The band’s two superstars, Rose and Slash were estranged for almost two decades after the latter handed in his notice in the autumn of 1996. “What’s clear is that one of the two of us will die before a reunion and however sad, ugly or unfortunate anyone views it, it is how it is,” Rose told Billboard in 2009. But time (and no small financial incentive) heals all wounds and hopes of a full-blown reformation were raised when Slash revealed he had spoken to Rose via telephone in early 2015. Slash and McKagan’s return was confirmed the following January alongside a Coachella headline slot. UTA agent Ken Fermaglich, who represents the band in North America, recalls the reformation becoming a realistic possibility “sometime in 2015”.

“I felt very good about it and thought that it would be a very important reunion that would satisfy a tremendous amount of demand,” Fermaglich tells Music Week. “There are many strategies for this and we have evolved them as things have developed. But the single most important overarching strategy for us has been doing whatever we can to ensure that people understand this is not a legacy act, it is a vibrant band that is contemporary to lots of other bands right now.”

The results speak for themselves: Not In This Lifetime… (named after a quote Axl Rose gave to TMZ in 2012 about the chances of a reunion) is now the fourth highest grossing concert tour of all-time. To date, it has generated $480.9 million (£363m) from 125 shows, according to Pollstar, trailing only U2’s 360°, The Rolling Stones’ A Bigger Bang and Coldplay’s A Head Full Of Dreams.

“The whole world tour has been a spectacular success,” says ITB’s Rod MacSween, GNR’s long-time international booking agent, who credits the band’s “musicianship, depth and strength of songs” as being central to their status. With the initial leg limited to the Americas, the tour’s 2017 run included stops in Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, UAE and Europe. It finally touched down in the UK that June for two epic sold-out nights at London Stadium. But it was well worth the wait.

“Seeing Slash and Axl back together in a band after a well documented battle in the press was something really special,” says Live Nation’s president of UK touring and Download Festival promoter Andy Copping.

“Those shows last year were incredible, three-and-a-half hours each. We sold 150,000 tickets – 75,000 tickets a night – it was a big deal. I knew when we went on sale that it would be big, but I wasn’t realising just how big it was going to be. We were always committed to two shows because I believed the demand was there, but I just wasn’t aware how quickly they were going to sell.”

“The strategy was to route with care, play some new markets and always plan ahead,” explains MacSween. “Some highlights were the two sold-out [London] Stadium shows in London last year, playing the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia and the passionate crowds in South America.”

Not In This Lifetime… was the fourth highest grossing worldwide tour of 2016, raking in $188.4m (£142.1m) from 44 shows at an average ticket price of $111 (£83.50), and the second highest of 2017, when it earned $292.5m (£220.6m) from 81 nights at an average ticket price of $109.16 (£82.34).

“We knew that people would pay a premium price for the best seats in the house and we scaled it so you could buy a ticket for £125, right the way down to £45,” explains Copping, of the London gigs. “We just set what we thought would be market value for Guns N’ Roses and there was zero resistance to the ticket prices.”

The current GNR line-up comprises Rose, Slash, McKagan, long-time keyboardist Dizzy Reed, drummer Frank Ferrer and keyboardist Melissa Reese, but to call Not In This Lifetime… a “reunion tour” isn’t strictly accurate – at no stage have Guns N’ Roses split up. Rose continued to front various guises of the band well into the 2000s, taking in festival headline slots and arena tours the world over.

The band even staged two Las Vegas residencies, completing 12 and nine-date runs at The Joint in 2012 and 2014 respectively, which UTA’s global head of touring Neil Warnock believes was a crucial piece of the jigsaw. “The credibility of the band coming back was that they could actually do it, get together, play on time and do a structured set in a structured situation, which Vegas is,” he explains. “That gave all the promoters confidence in Guns N’ Roses again so, when the whole ball of wax came together, then you could look at stadiums and the more sophisticated ways of rolling that out because the confidence was there for promoters to invest huge amounts of money, which they did, and get their return.”

Copping, who has worked with the band since 2005, acknowledges: “Axl had kept the Guns N’ Roses name alive. Some people have different opinions about whether that was good or bad, but he did keep the Guns N’ Roses brand alive.”

Heading back to Europe, Not In This Lifetime’s... penultimate ninth leg commenced in Berlin on June 3. There is just one UK date on the calendar – a headlining slot at Download this Saturday.

“We did a version of Guns N’ Roses [at Download] back in 2006 but when, a couple of years ago, they started talking about getting an original line-up back together – and with Duff, Axl and Slash it’s the closest we’re going to get to an original line-up – I absolutely wanted them to play,” remembers Copping, who initially approached the band about headlining in 2017. “They said they wanted to come back and do their own shows before they got into the festivals, so we did two nights at the [London] Stadium,” he says. ‘They definitely could have done more [UK shows]. The whole idea was that we were going to do two big London shows and then come back and do Download the following year. That was always the plan and we didn’t want to change it, even though they could’ve quite easily done more shows, whether it be another London show or one in Manchester or Scotland.”

More than two-and-a-half years after it kicked off, Not In This Lifetime… is due to conclude in Asia in November, but Copping is convinced they’ll be able do it all again down the line. “I think they’ve proven that there is, pardon the pun, a huge appetite for Guns N’ Roses and they could come back at any time and tour the world again,” he says. “Maybe they’ll put a new record together, although I don’t think that matters so much considering they’ve got such a big catalogue of songs. But one would like to think that after this it won’t be goodbye Guns N’ Roses. I guess they may take a hiatus, do solo projects and then get the GNR juggernaut back up and running again.

They’ve sure come a long way since The Troubadour – twice over.
Blackstar
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