AUSTIN, Texas — Guns N' Roses is notorious for keeping people waiting. But if you see GNR in 2019, they not only start on time – they give you exactly what you came for.
This was definitely true for their Friday headliner set at the Austin City Limits Music Festival.
Sure, Axl Rose, Duff McKagan, Slash and the rest of their bandmates are older. Maybe a little less spry than they used to be. And, true, it's funny to realize how many Guns N' Roses songs mention being "young."
But if you're someone who wants to see Guns N' Roses live in concert in 2019, what do you expect to see? Rose, singing in his low, half-growl, half robotic voice one second and screeching like a banshee the next. The ACL set had that. McKagan, swaggering along with his bass, nailing his vocal harmonies. The ACL set had that too. And Slash, ripping into dizzying solos – sunglasses, nose ring and top hat in place. So it was for the ACL set.
The setlist Friday night was largely the same that it's been for all of the band's long-running "Not in This Lifetime" tour, which started in 2016 and will continue through the beginning of November. Heavy on the "Appetite for Destruction" and "Use Your Illusion" tracks, light on the "Chinese Democracy" songs and with a sprinkle of covers (including "Slither," a hit for another of McKagan and Slash's projects, Velvet Revolver). It was a setlist most fans would want.
It was also a pretty bare-bones show, with lots of on-screen graphics but not a lot of pyrotechnics or flashy gimmicks. It was Guns N' Roses relying on the audience being happy to see Guns N' Roses – and it worked.
At ACL Weekend 1, Guns N' Roses gave people what they expected. Really, what more could you want?
If you missed round one, the band is also headling ACL next Friday at the American Express stage.
ACL Weekend 1 in photos
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