Flashback: Guns N’ Roses Play ‘November Rain’ at Final Pre-Pandemic Gig

Guns N’ Roses just announced that not only are they going ahead with their 2021 American stadium shows, but they’ve added Wolfgang Van Halen to the bill and a bunch of arena shows in the fall. For these keeping track, this is essentially the same reunion tour that launched back in 2016 and has already grossed more than half a billion dollars.

The whole thing seemed very improbable when it was merely a rumor back in 2015. People had many key questions about the whole thing: Axl is really going to make peace with Slash after saying all those horrible things about him? He’ll really show up on time for all these gigs and not cause any trouble? Fans will really fill up football stadiums even though Axl has been flogging these same songs on the concert circuit since 2001 with a rotating crew of ringers?

It turns out, the answer to all these was a resounding “yes.” Even without their fellow Appetite for Destruction–era bandmates Izzy Stradlin and Steven Adler, the presence of Duff McKagan and Slash was enough to bring Guns back to football stadiums and keep them there year after year. Amazingly, many of the stadiums they’re hitting this summer are the same ones they hit in 2016.

And since that time, they’ve released 0.0 seconds of new music. They have changed up the set list a bit, adding in deep cuts like “Locomotive,” “Dead Horse,” and “Shadow of Your Love” along with covers like “Wichita Lineman,” “Black Hole Sun,” and even “Slither” by Velvet Revolver. But the bulk of the set is built around their hits and they never leave the stage without playing every single one of them.

They were supposed to spend 2020 on the road, but the pandemic forced them to postpone every gig after they hit a Super Bowl event in Miami on January 31st and Mexico City’s Vive Latino festival on March 14th. The latter show took place at the exact time that shows all over the globe were being pulled, but the organizers decided to forge ahead and Guns N’ Roses were down for it. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t a great idea and may have been a superspreader event. Here’s fan-shot video of “November Rain” from that evening.

Axl and his bandmates have kept a pretty low profile during the pandemic. But if all goes according to plan, they’ll pop their heads back up on July 31st at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pennsylvania. They head to Australia and New Zealand in the fall, and then Europe in the summer of 2022. By that point, their extended reunion run will basically be the longest tour of this magnitude in rock history. There are rumors every few months about a new album, but that hardly matters. Few people come to rock shows to hear new songs these days, and they have enough oldies to keep this thing going for the next 10 years, at least.