There's been no official announcement, though all signs are pointing to Guns N' Roses coming back to North America in 2017. We aren't just talking about metaphorical signs. There are actual billboards in cities they skipped this year, like Montreal, teasing another tour. They already have 2017 dates booked in Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Thailand and Dubai that run though March 3rd. The band has yet to touch down in Europe since reuniting, so it's unclear when exactly the North American shows are going to happen, but they seem like a certainty.
The 2016 leg of the Not in This Lifetime tour was a triumph in many ways, and not just because Slash and Axl managed to peacefully coexist on a stage without any signs of turbulence. (The fact that the tour grossed over $114 million may have something to do with that.) Not only did Axl sound better than he has in years, but he showed up on time every night and actually seemed to enjoy himself. Slash breathed new life into the Chinese Democracy songs and the old members and new members meshed better than many expected. All that said, there are ways the shows could be even better. We know Axl Rose loves nothing better than being told what to do, particularly by the press, but here are some suggestions.
1. Eliminate some of the instrumentals and covers.
The show is great whenever Axl is onstage, but every few songs he seems to wander off while the band plays covers like "Wish You Were Here," "Attitude" and the theme from The Godfather. This goes all the way back to the Use Your Illusion tours of 1992-93. The pauses allow Axl to change outfits and catch his breath, but they also really kill the momentum. He managed to get through the AC/DC tour without constantly walking offstage. Maybe Axl should shorten the gigs a little bit, run around a little less and spend a little less time backstage.
2. Change around the set list.
Guns N' Roses don't have a huge catalog, especially since they aren't going to play more than three or four Chinese Democracy tunes and six Use Your Illusion songs each night. Eliminate songs like "Get in the Ring" and "One in a Million" that'll simply never get played for obvious reasons and you have a small pool of songs to draw from. That doesn't mean the band has to play the same songs in the same order each night. Right now, the only real drama comes at the beginning of the encore when they pick between "Patience" and "Don't Cry." It's so predictable that fans know Slash will always play a tiny bit of "Voodoo Child" every night at the end of "Civil War." How about mixing it up a bit so we don't always know what's coming next? Maybe open with "Welcome to the Jungle" and do "It's So Easy" a little later. Why not do something crazy and open with "November Rain" and throw everyone off balance. Concerts aren't Broadway shows. There should be some element of surprise.
3. Utilize Steven Adler more.
Nobody expects Steven Adler to stay behind the kit for the entire show and handle complex tunes like "You Could Be Mine." Frank Ferrer is a stellar drummer and an integral part of the band. But as long as Axl is willing to let Adler onstage, it shouldn't just be for one song every few months. The dude recently flew down to Buenos Aires to play a single song at one show. That's a lot of travel time for a four-minute song. The Rolling Stones gave Mick Taylor a lot more than that. How about letting Adler play a couple more Appetite for Destruction songs? He's quite capable of handling them.
4. Celebrate Appetite's anniversary.
July 21st, 2017, will mark the 30th anniversary of Appetite for Destruction. Most of the songs are in the regular rotation. One night, perhaps even on the exact anniversary, why not reward the fans by playing the whole thing in sequence? It shouldn't be that hard to rehearse "Think About You," "Anything Goes" and "You're Crazy." Only "Anything Goes" hasn't been done since the Eighties. The others were played in the 2000s. A full-album run-through would totally re-shuffle the show, but it would be a lot of fun.
5. Bring back Izzy.
This is a big one, and we know it is unlikely. As an original member, Izzy would want an equal share of the money, but his presence wouldn't bring in that much extra cash. That would mean Axl, Slash and Duff would have to give up some of their earnings. This tour is already a very efficient machine. Rehearsing Izzy would take a lot of work, especially if his return would mean the departure of Richard Fortus. Also, Izzy isn't exactly the world's most dependable guy and hasn't been on a real tour since 1992. There's too much money at stake to risk losing a show because Izzy rode off into the desert one night and didn't make the next gig. All of that said, Izzy is a key part of this band and it would be wonderful if he came back in some fashion, even for just a song or two. The ultimate dream, of course, is a show with the classic five-man lineup and no others, but that remains very, very hard to imagine. Of course, a tour with Axl and Slash seemed impossible just a couple of years ago, so we suppose anything is possible.