When the newly reunited Guns N’ Roses headlined Coachella in 2016, it felt impossible.
When they returned to the Empire Polo Club seven years later to close the first night of Power Trip, it felt inevitable.
Like Iron Maiden right before them, Guns N’ Roses included no surprises in their Friday night performance. But that’s not to say they didn’t kick up a wonderful racket during their three-hour set, delivering a vigorous, exhausting mix of hits, deep cuts, covers and new tunes.
You can see the full set list below.
Deep Cuts Ruled the Day
Highlights of GN’R’s 2023 set list include vintage deep cuts “Bad Obsession,” “Pretty Tied Up” and “Anything Goes,” back for the first time in decades. All three provided thrills at Power Trip, particularly the first two, which arrived early in the set and allowed Axl Rose to flex his still-powerful chest voice.
The frontman also sounded fired up on the band’s cover of Wings’ “Live and Let Die” and the Chinese Democracy cut “Better,” and his banshee wail on “Reckless Life” was nearly transportive. That inimitable sandpaper rasp that once made Rose the most dangerous frontman in the world only shows up about half the time on a good night now — but if you can live with those odds, you’re in for a hell of a good time.
That’s because, even if they’re showing their age, Guns N’ Roses don’t phone it in. Rose stomped and strutted his way across the Power Trip stage all night, eyes still full of fiery determination and satisfaction when he landed a good scream. Slash dazzled during a frenetic, improvisational solo at the end of “Double Talkin’ Jive,” the notes practically flying out of his fingers like mini lightning bolts. Duff McKagan, a picture of self-preservation, delivered rock-solid backing vocals alongside keyboardist Melissa Reese and proved his own frontman mettle with a cover of the Stooges’ “T.V. Eye.”
Guns N’ Roses Played Long — Maybe Too Long
It was everything you could want from a Guns N’ Roses set — and then some. The band delivered maximum bang for buck, but also plenty of bloat. “Rocket Queen,” once one of their most menacing songs, received a hammy, Vegas-style makeover with dueling guitar solos, piano and auxiliary percussion. A steady throng of fans in the general admission section flocked to the exits throughout the second half of the set, which included back-to-back covers of Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman” and Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”
Suspend your cynicism though, and Guns N’ Roses still delivered a gargantuan rock show, warts and all, that reminded viewers why they belong on the Power Trip lineup. They might not be the same wildly unpredictable band of yesteryear, but the fact that they’re here at all is worth celebrating.
Guns N’ Roses, 10/6/23, Power Trip, Indio
1. “It’s So Easy”
2. “Bad Obsession”
3. “Chinese Democracy”
4. “Slither” (Velvet Revolver cover)
5. “Pretty Tied Up”
6. “Mr. Brownstone”
7. “Welcome to the Jungle”
8. “Hard Skool”
10. “Double Talkin’ Jive”
11. Reckless Life”
12. “You Could Be Mine”
14. “Live and Let Die” (Wings cover)
15. “Down on the Farm” (UK Subs cover)
16. “Rocket Queen”
17. “T.V. Eye” (Stooges cover, Duff McKagan on lead vocals)
19. “Anything Goes”
20. “Civil War”
21. Slash guitar solo
22. “Sweet Child O’ Mine”
23. “November Rain”
24. “Wichita Lineman” (Glen Campbell cover)
25. “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” (Bob Dylan cover)
29. “Paradise City”
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Gallery Credit: UCR Staff