SO DOES THIS MEAN WE’RE GETTING A GUNS N’ ROSES REUNION?
video courtesy MissPinksMusic
So Duff McKagan joined Axl Rose and his new Guns N’ Roses on-stage at the 02 Arena in London last night, playing bass for “You Could Be Mine” (video above) and rhythm guitars for “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” and “Nice Boys.” (You can also see photos here.) Inevitably, this is going to make people ask the question: “Is the original line-up (or something closely resembling the original line-up) of Guns N’ Roses getting back together?” As MetalSucks’ resident GN’R geek, I hereby take it upon myself to provide reckless analysis regarding this blessed event. After the jump, get both sides of the argument, as provided by my drug-addled fanboy brain.
THIS DON’T MEAN SHIT
Well, for one thing, effort was made to spare Tommy Stinson’s feelings. Seriously, why the hell else would you stick a guitar in Duff’s hands if not to reassure Stinson that his job is safe? (And don’t point out that McKagan has played guitar with other bands. He’s famous for being a bass player and he wasn’t the fucking guitar player in Guns N’ Roses, so having him play guitar in that band makes no fucking sense. It would be like if Metallica invited Dave Mustaine to jam on some old Metallica tunes, but only if he played the drums. That’s not what the fans wanna see, fuckos.)
More relevant, though, is that what GN’R have going against them that most potential reunions do not is Axl Rose. Whatever else you wanna say about the guy — and you can say a lot — it’s hard to argue that he’s not legitimately fucking crazy. Either that, or he’s spent the last 23 years pulling off a performance that would make Andy Kaufman jealous. But assuming he’s as nuts as he seems, it’s hard to not take him seriously when he says that either he or Slash “will die before a reunion” occurs, as he told Billboard last year.
And more relevant still is this: Duff actually isn’t the first member of GN’R’s classic line-up to perform with the Nu-Gunners. In 2006, Izzy Stradlin guested at not one but two shows with Axl and company, one in New York and one at Download in England. Obviously, that lead to nothing.
Of course, the difference between Stradlin and McKagan is that while Stradlin’s sudden and unexpected split from the band at the height of their fame in 1991 left a bad taste in Rose’s mouth, McKagan’s unceremonious 2007 departure was apparently amicable. When Billboard asked Rose if he’d ever consider working with any of his former band mates again, he even answered, “Maybe something with Duff, but that’s it.” Duff has even performed with Bumblefoot before!
But that’s even more reason to believe that this little get-together was just friendly guys being friendly. There was never really any bad blood between these dudes, so them jamming together doesn’t seem so meaningful. And since Rose also told Billboard that “I’m not so comfortable with doing anything having more than one of the alumni,” it’s understandable that he’d be willing to share a stage with Izzy or Duff, but not Izzy and Duff.
On the other hand…
WE’RE GETTING A REUNION
…McKagan was literally in Los Angeles trying out new singers with Velvet Revolver just a few days ago. There’s no way he didn’t mention to Slash and Matt Sorum that he was going to London to play with Axl, right? Even if he flew to London for some entirely unrelated reason (or to pursue Sebastian Bach for VR… yeah, right) and just happened to wind up on-stage with GN’R at the last minute [UPDATE: Yep, that’s actually what happened — he was staying in the same hotel as the band. Bizarre. – Ed.] , I think it’s safe to assume that he called, texted, or at least e-mailed Slash to mention it beforehand. (“Hey, bro, it’s Duff. Listen, just so you don’t read it on the internet later, I wanted to let you know that I’m going on with GN’R tonight. Yeah, Axl wouldn’t even let you into one of their concerts, but I’m gonna jam with them. Okay by-eeeee!”) We know that Rose has already made peace with Sorum, and it’s hard to believe that he and McKagan were in a room together and Slash never came up. So maybe McKagan is playing ambassador between the two? Hell, he stayed in GN’R for almost a year after Slash quit and several months after Sorum was fired, which suggests that he’s the most Axl-tolerant of all the Velvet Revolverers, and probably thought that sooner or later, cooler heads would prevail. (Or, less likely, he was open to the idea of a Slash-less GN’R. But I don’t buy that.)
And Duff clearly wants to be famous. I mean, he’s a performer so on some level no duh he wants to be famous, but some of the behind-the-scenes stuff I’ve heard about the man in the past couple of years leads me to believe that he’s not exactly humble. And I don’t think you write multiple columns for various media outlets and act on television and agree to have your wife be on a reality show based simply on the fact that she’s married to you (more on that later today) and go from GN’R to Velvet Revolver to Jane’s Addiction unless you crave the spotlight.
And the spotlight will never shine as brightly on these guys as it did when they were in GN’R again. A GN’R reunion would be major news; not only would every music (not just rock or metal) media outlet in the world cover it, but it would get mentioned in the New York Times Arts Section, and would be on the CNN scroll, and my dad would hear about it and e-mail me to tell see if I’d heard the big new like six weeks after the fact. It could be an actual cultural phenomenon, like the Van Halen reunion, Christine O’Donnell, or Dancing with the Stars. In that regard, Duff being the guy to put all this bullshit aside and finally get a GN’R reunion going makes a lot of sense.
And as for Tommy Stinson’s feelings, well… at this point, he’s been in Guns N’ Roses longer than anyone besides Axl and Dizzy Reed. So maybe Duff was just being polite.
Of course, only time will tell if we’re finally getting the old Guns back. So in the meantime, free to speculate in the comments section below.