Guns N’ Roses promoter Paul Dainty says band’s bad behaviour is a thing of the past. Karl Puschmann reports.

In their heyday Guns N' Roses had a legendary appetite for destruction. They trashed hotel rooms, sent concert crowds rioting after keeping them waiting for hours and drunk and drugged themselves into oblivion. It was wild times. They couldn't last.

As the years rolled by all the original members left - either fired or frustrated by the band's enigmatic frontman W. Axl Rose.

"If you'd asked me five years ago, 'do you think the guys will ever get back together?', you wouldn't have put money on it," concert promoter Paul Dainty says down the line from Sydney.

As the man bringing the freshly reformed and (mostly) original line-up of one of rock's greatest bands to New Zealand, Dainty has now put a lot of money on it.

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The band, which has Rose, guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan performing together for the first time since 1993, will play two shows in Auckland and Wellington over Waitangi Weekend next year. Dainty says those wild reputations aren't causing him any concern.

"If you look back we were probably all party animals or whatever in our 20s," he says. "But you get older and mature and it's no different for artists."

"Axl's always had a reputation for being onstage late. That's part of the mystique and persona of Axl Rose. He's a very charismatic rock star. But the band's just done 25 stadium shows in North America and they've been onstage on time. There hasn't been one issue."

This will come as massive relief to Gunners fans who stared at Vector Arena's empty stage for hours until Axl finally appeared with his faux Guns N' Roses line-up just before midnight back in 2007.

That kind of shoddy timekeeping may fly in the city, but out in the suburbs things are a little different. Western Springs Stadium, where the band is playing, has strictly enforced curfews and cut-off times.

"It's fine," Dainty says. "I've done lots of shows at Western Springs over the years. David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, more recently Eminem. To me Western Springs is the home to the most memorable iconic rock shows in the Southern Hemisphere."

"You just have an open conversation with the artists and tell them the venue curfews and they work around those. We schedule the bands so we finish within the 'hard stop' curfew. That's 11pm at Western Springs so the band will be on around 8pm and we'll be done by 10 to 11."

He sounds relaxed and makes it sound easy. Which isn't surprising since he's been bringing the world's biggest bands to Australia and New Zealand for over 40 years.
I ask if the Gunners had any unusual backstage requests he needed to fulfil to seal the deal, brown jellybeans perhaps?

"I remember those days well," he laughs. "As a business its moved on a lot since the days we had to fly in limes for Fleetwood Mac from South America even though they were available down the road at the grocers in Auckland. No. We had to fly them in from South America because they were a bit different."

"Those mad days have all gone and everyone's more sensible now. It's much more business-oriented ."

This, he reckons, is because the music business has changed so dramatically. Albums and singles no longer make money like they used to, making touring the key income driver for bands and artists.

"That's why live touring is so professional now and so important," he says.
But the game hasn't just changed for musicians. Dainty says the business of promoting is a lot different since those mad old days.

"The rules have changed. The business has got a lot more sophisticated from the 70s and 80s. There's safety issues and a lot more rigour around every aspect of presenting a show. Which we support, it's great."

Asking for an example, he cites Pink Floyd's legendary gig at the Springs back in 1988.

"Back in the day at Western Springs we used to have the stage as far back as you could put it and just had everyone standing," he says. "I think we crammed 90,000 people in there for Pink Floyd. Something like that. It was just unbelievable. These days the council limit the capacity, once we hit that capacity we stop. That's it."

"For shows now it's 55,000, but we sell a tiny bit less than that. Just for a bit of comfort. That works really well. It allows people plenty of space to move around and is not at the point where you can't move or get in or out. You can enjoy the night."

Which is something Dainty himself is looking forward to. Having seen the band perform a few weeks ago in San Francisco he's raving.

"It was an awesome show. Amazing. They played for nearly three hours. All the hits. And the stage chemistry is right there between Slash and Axl. It's magic. Such a buzz."

Tickets for both shows go on sale Wednesday, August 31, at 10am.
For tickets to Wellington's show visit ticketek.co.nz, or call 0800 842 538.
And for Auckland's show go to ticketmaster.co.nz, or dial 0800 111 999.