For its first performance with the original lineup in North Texas in more than 20 years, Guns N’ Roses is not thinking small.
Workers clambered all around the enormous stage, situated in AT&T Stadium’s western end zone Tuesday, putting the finishing touches on a three-day process that will culminate with the Axl Rose-led rock band’s “Not in This Lifetime” tour stop at the venue Wednesday.
During a brief press conference, just a few yards from workers testing video panels and adjusting confetti cannons, tour production manager Dale “Opie” Skjerseth told reporters “everything’s been running smooth and the band’s excited.”
“It’s a fantastic show,” Skjerseth said, “with video, pyrotechnics], the band, the music everybody thrived on — the show will be fantastic: two hours and 45 minutes of rock and roll.”
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The band, which features Rose reunited with founding guitarists Slash and Duff McKagan as well as veteran keyboard player Dizzy Reed, had a hand in designing the stage, which requires 16 trucks to transport between venues (after the Arlington stop, the Guns N’ Roses tour heads to San Francisco’s AT&T Park on Aug. 9).
The production elements are conveyed on 20 trucks, with about 25 local workers complementing the 25 crew members tasked with pulling everything together.
“It’s the age of technology now,” Skjerseth said. “There’s video throughout the set [and] just the way the show moves and presents itself, it’s fantastic.”
There will be one piece of technology in the vast building that will not be in use Wednesday: AT&T Stadium’s enormous video screen.
Skjerseth said the band did not want the screen turned on, as it would be a potentially dangerous and brightly lit distraction for them.
“Basically you’re watching yourself and it’s not a good thing,” Skjerseth said. “You never know, they could be watching it and fall off the edge of the stage. That’s a reason a lot of bands won’t turn it on.”
Wednesday’s performance will be the original lineup’s first appearance in North Texas since an impressive bill at Texas Stadium in September 1992, which featured Metallica and Faith No More as opening acts.
Of Guns N’ Roses’ showing then, former Star-Telegram music critic Dave Ferman wrote: “Rose and company turned in very good renditions of many of their best-known songs. … The set also suffered from Rose’s frayed vocal cords and too many self-indulgent solos.”
In an amusing case of history somewhat repeating, Rose is again fresh from mending a broken foot, which left him confined to a chair onstage at the beginning of the tour.
But not to worry, Skjerseth said — Axl Rose is all healed and ready to take fans back to Paradise City: “Axl’s doing great. He’s mobile. Everything that needs to be done physically on stage, he can do and more.”