It’s been one of the most anticipated rock and roll reunions for years, and on Saturday night at Coachella, Guns N’ Roses’ key members — Axl Rose, Slash, and Duff McKagan — finally reunited for their biggest performance in years, following warm-up shows in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
The walk-up to the band’s headlining slot in Indio, California, has been plagued by problems, from some fans being upset that the “reunion” didn’t include Steven Adler and Izzy Stradlin, two founding members, to Rose breaking his foot during their last-minute gig at the Troubadour (and needing to borrow Dave Grohl’s 2015 tour throne). But in front of a crowd of 90,000 (save for the few thousand who ventured over to Grimes, PANTyRAiD, ZHU, Justin Martin, and BADBADNOTGOOD, all who conflicted with the rock legends) none of that mattered.
The group played a mostly excellent set to a crowd that was ready to headbang. Rose has a long-standing reputation for being late to sets, but such antics don’t fly at the Polo Fields and the frontman complied, starting just 10 minutes after the band’s designated start time. Over the next two and a half hours — and a remarkable number of hat and jacket changes for Rose, who performed sitting, his leg in a walking cast — the group tore through their catalog, hitting classics like “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “You Could Be Mine,” “November Rain,” (by far the best moment of the night) “Knocking On Heaven’s Door,” and “Paradise City.” Five of those came in the last 30 minutes or so, meaning that despite the raucous ending that setlist afforded, it also made the first hour and a half a battle of endurance for the many present who were unfamiliar with GNR deep-cuts.
It was announced Saturday night that Axl Rose will be joining AC/DC on tour, filling in for vocalist Brian Johnson who has had to cancel appearances due to the risk of “total hearing loss” from touring. Fittingly, a member of Aussie hard rock outfit, who headlined Coachella in 2015, joined the set. Rose welcomed guitarist Angus Young halfway through the show, saying since he couldn’t run around the stage he needed someone else to. They ripped through AC/DC standards “Riff Raff” and “Whole Lotta Rosie,” both from the late 1970s, to a very grateful audience.
Other Day 2 highlights:
Ja Rule joins Matoma for “Always On Time,” and “Old Thing Back” with the crowd taking Ashanti’s chorus, Sean Paul came out after, but unfortunately couldn’t quite remember the words to “Get Busy.”
CHVRCHES got the enviable sunset set on the main stage Saturday and they didn’t waste it, performing an even mix of songs off their 2013 debut, The Bones of What You Believe, and last fall’s Every Eye Open. “We’re so happy to have more than, like, five songs to play for you,” frontwoman Lauren Mayberry quipped about the group’s return to Indio.
Halsey‘s 8p.m. set was already an enormous dance party at the Outdoor Theater, but when she brought out Panic! at the Disco’s Brendon Urie for “Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off” things went off and tons of mini mosh pits broke out across the lawn.
Saturday was a day of many top-tier surprise guests, but one that people had been buzzing about all morning was Ice Cube‘s anticipated main stage set. He didn’t disappoint, hosting a mini N.W.A. reunion (minus Dr. Dre) to perform “Straight Outta Compton,” and “F— tha Police,” as well as welcoming Snoop Dogg, Common, and his son, O’Shea Jackson Jr.
When Zedd‘s set began at Outdoor Theater Saturday night, it was against stiff competition for a crowd. Ice Cube’s N.W.A. reunion had gotten into full stomp by then and Aussie electro up-and-comers Rufus Du Sol were hosting one of the nearby tents. Zedd won out throwing the day’s best dance party — and hosting Kesha’s first public performance since her February court appearance.