The iconic band Guns N’ Roses rocked Joburg when Big Concerts brought their Not In This Lifetime tour to the FNB Stadium in November last year.

Welcome to the Jungle

Guns N’ Roses established themselves as legends of the hard rock genre with hits such as “Sweet Child of Mine” dominating the charts in the late-1980s. When they signed to Geffen Records in 1986, the band comprised vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steven Adler.

Following several years of strained relationships between the original band members, Guns N’ Roses fans were thrilled to receive the news in 2016 that Rose, Slash and McKagan would again be joining forces as a headline act for Coachella 2016, an annual music and arts festival held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California.

In April 2016, the reunited Guns N’ Roses initiated the North America leg of its Not In This Lifetime tour – named for a pessimistic statement that Rose made in a 2012 interview when asked about a potential reunion.

Guns N’ Roses have brought Not In This Lifetime to several continents, delivering more than 160 shows over the past two years. The tour has grossed over $563.3 million, making it the second-highest-grossing concert tour of all time. In 2016 it was the highest-earning global concert tour per city, as well as the fourth-highest-grossing overall, and it ranked as the second-highest-grossing worldwide tour of 2017.

In June of 2018, Big Concerts announced that they had secured Guns N’ Roses, for the first time in South Africa, for a single performance of the Not in this Lifetime tour at the FNB Stadium on 29 November.

Pretty Tied Up

Mushroom Productions, one of South Africa’s leading production companies, and technical solutions provider, Gearhouse SA, regularly serve as partners when Big Concerts presents large format international arena shows, and this remained the case when the event company entered into negotiations with Guns N’ Roses.

It happened, however, that the Motsepe Foundation had secured the FNB Stadium for the National Day of Prayer on 25 November, and talks were underway to book the stadium for Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 on 02 December. Both Big Concerts and Mushroom productions were consulting on these events. While all parties have a very solid and well-established working relationship, the string of events sheduled for the stadium presented an interesting challenge. The Guns N’ Roses concert was sandwiched between two of the biggest events of the year to be held at the FNB stadium, which could have derailed Big Concert’s plans for Guns N’ Roses.

Fortunately for the band’s fans, the technical requirements for all three events were carefully considered, and it was decided that – with careful planning and solid communication between all parties – the three events could be staged at the same venue in one week. “We were able to deliver on all three events because the sound rider for Beyoncé’s On The Run II tour, which would be the closing act of the Global Citizen Festival and by far the most technically demanding, was consistent with the rider provided by Guns N’ Roses,” explains Gearhouse’s Jako de Wit, who served as project manager for all three events.

One in a Million

The K1 large format WST Line Source by L-Acoustics is widely recognised as the benchmark for sound at global stadium tours and the world’s largest outdoor festivals. According to L-Acoustics, “the K1 has no equal in SPL per meter and, coupled with the K1-SB, offers an unprecedented level of directivity control, making it the leader for solving noise pollution and throw issues in outdoor settings. With proprietary, state-of-the-art rigging, the K1 is the go-to choice for precise deployment and lightning fast load-in and load-out.”

It is, therefore, not surprising that both Beyoncé and Guns N’ Roses specify the L-Acoustics K1 as their sound solution of choice when on tour. To ensure that the sound riders for both Beyoncé and Guns N’ Roses, as well as for the Global Citizen Festival as a whole, would be fulfilled, Gearhouse invested in new equipment to supplement their already-impressive L-Acoustics inventory. 

“We purchased 12 boxes of L-Acoustics K1, to bring our total count from 36 to 48. We also invested in a complete L-Acoustics K2 series system to meet the various audio riders for Guns N’ Roses, the Global Citizen Festival and Beyoncé’s OTR II tour,” says Stuart Andrews, the Johannesburg branch manager of Gearhouse SA. He adds that “it is worth noting that we have invested in 28 subs and LA12X amps, to bring the K1 system up to the KS standard.”

Gearhouse’s investment in L-Acoustics ensured that fans experienced a live music event that was delivered at the highest international standards. Considering that South Africans have been waiting for more than two decades to hear Guns N’ Roses play a live arena show, the exceptional sound achieved at the FNB Stadium on 28 November made it a ‘one in a million’ experience.