In the early 1990s, there were few bigger rock bands in the world than Guns N’ Roses.
Its 30 years since the hard-living fivesome from Los Angeles performed at Gateshead International Stadium. They were one of a succession of big-name music acts at the time to perform at a venue best-known for playing host to athletics events and the town’s football team.
During the 1980s and ’90s the likes of The Police, U2, Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi, Rod Stewart, Simply Red and Tina Turner all drew huge crowds there. Only four days before Guns N’ Roses hit the stage, Dire Straits had performed a classy set to a sell-out crowd.
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Singer Axl Rose, guitarist Slash and the lads were in the midst of their mammoth worldwide 194-date Use Your Illusion Tour and the June 16 date at the International Stadium was one of three outdoor shows in the UK, the other two being at Wembley Stadium and Manchester City’s Maine Road.
As it turned out, the 25,000 in attendance at Gateshead weren’t the only ones who would hear the band’s performance. The high-volume music could be heard right across Tyneside. The Chronicle reported how “fans wilted in the heat – and others got hot under the collar at bad language from lead singer Axl Rose on the stage.” A police managed said: “We got telephone calls from people in Newcastle saying they could hear bad language floating through the air, but we do not intend to take any action.”
Meanwhile, it was also revealed Guns N’ Roses had been unable to secure their first choice of overnight accommodation in the North East. The band and entourage had turned up at Lumley Castle in Chester-le-Street, Co Durham, demanding 28 double rooms, 24-hour room service and round-the-clock security for three nights, but the hotel were unable to manage and the group decided they’d stay in London instead.
Thankfully, the show itself was a success with the band kicking off with It’s So Easy, Mr Brownstone, and their hard-hitting cover of the Wings’ classic, Live and Let Die. Our reviewer noted: “The crowd exploded with excitement as Guns N’ Roses fired off both barrels.
“The music was so tight and highly charged that the band looked like snapping – working to a frenzied perfection their classics Paradise City, Sweet Child O’ Mine, and Welcome To The Jungle. Guns N’ Roses may look every inch real life victims of rock and roll, but they proved they’re working to perfection.
“The band – obviously loving the crowd and atmosphere – sang, played and ran their hearts out for two and a half hours with Slash saying ‘It’s crowds like you who make it all worthwhile’. With a fearsome support from the brilliant Faith No More and Soundgarden, the fans were left exhilarated and exhausted.”
Thirty tumultuous years, 100 million album sales, and multiple line-up changes later, critically and commercially Guns N’ Roses are regarded as one of the biggest acts in the history of rock music.