Unless you’ve been living under a rock (no pun intended), you’ve probably noticed that Guns N’ Roses is back in the spotlight. Following an April 2016 reunion between key members Axl Rose and Slash, the band has been on tour more or less without interruption. In fact, that tour – dubbed “Not In This Lifetime” – has been one of the most successful ventures in the music industry over the past two years.
There have been innumerable reviews of GNR’s shows, as well as articles about the general trajectory of the comeback. But to get a little closer to the action, and to put the scope of the comeback in perspective, we’re writing up some of the best individual quotes about it, courtesy of everything from critical commentary to band member comments, and even a game review.
“It was just f***ing awesome”
If there’s one quote that’s come to define the Guns N’ Roses comeback – aside from the very phrase “Not in this lifetime,” which refers to Axl Rose’s previous take on if and when he’d reunite with Slash – it’s probably this one. “It was just f***ing awesome” was how Slash characterized reconnecting with Axl Rose at the beginning of this whole thing. The legendary guitarist gave a fairly deep response when asked about how things were going, effectively stating that there’s something to tap into after having done so much together, and GNR has found it.
“Enjoy the relentlessly catchy riffs”
This is actually a phrase in a blurb used to describe a game based on Guns N’ Roses. Now recognized as one of the internet’s best slot games based on music, the GNR slot experience curiously came out just before the reunion got going. It’s unconfirmed if it had anything to do with the reunion, but this simple pitch – “enjoy the relentlessly catchy riffs” – speaks both to those who revere GNR hits and those who are newly on board. “Relentlessly catchy” is why all of this – a video game, a comeback show, a full-fledged tour – can work.
“A well-oiled, professional, arena-rock machine”
Early on, GNR actually got some fairly harsh criticism for some of its shows. A few critics cited a lack of energy, or else other generic concerns that plague aging rockers who still want to make a go of it. But this description of the band came from a review last November, and seemed to confirm that over time, Guns N’ Roses had settled into a fine rhythm. Finding itself once again as this well-oiled machine is how the band was able to put together one of the most successful tours in recent history.
“If I tell you, I have to kill you”
As you can probably tell, this quote is more of a tease than a revelation or encapsulation of what’s going on. It comes from Chris Slade, the drummer of AC/DC, and speaks to the true magnitude of this comeback specifically for Axl Rose. Because, in addition to catapulting GNR to renewed levels of stardom, Rose has taken up the role of frontman for AC/DC – to the point that he’s increasingly expected to be the lead vocalist for new material from the group. Slade’s tease regarding Rose and this new material is noncommittal, but certainly makes it seem more likely.
“But we have changed, we have moved on”
Some long-time GNR fans may scoff at this one, but it’s important to mention in any comprehensive view of this comeback. It’s not a quote from a band member, but rather one from Charles Fairfield, an associate professor of popular music at the University of Sydney. He’s referring in part to GNR’s decision to remove the controversial and offensive song “One In A Million” from an album re-release, which in turn speaks to the band’s understanding of societal shifts. Whether or not GNR’s actual outlook has changed, this decision indicates that they understand they have to present a new face, in some ways, to work for modern audiences. It might actually, in a subtle way, be the biggest indication that this comeback has staying power.