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    Guns N’ Roses goes the distance

    Axl Rose (pictured in Atlanta earlier this month) led the latest version of Guns N’ Roses in a nearly three-hour concert at DCU Center on Friday.
    Chris McKay/Getty Images/File
    Axl Rose (pictured in Atlanta earlier this month) led the latest version of Guns N’ Roses in a nearly three-hour concert at DCU Center on Friday.

    WORCESTER - For a band known for concerts that might start only after unconscionable waits and run until 2 a.m. when they’re not canceled outright, Guns N’ Roses did perhaps the most shocking and unpredictable thing of all Friday night in Worcester: They took the DCU Center stage at a somewhat reasonable hour - 10:20, to be exact. By Gn’R standards, that’s practically a matinee.

    Despite his legendarily mercurial nature, Axl Rose seemed to be in a pretty good mood, even mock-grumbling about showing up on time. His moves might not be what they once were - he showed off a not-so-slinky serpentine shimmy in “Welcome to the Jungle’’ and “Mr. Brownstone,’’ and “Nightrain’’ featured awfully stiff happy feet - but he didn’t lack for energy.

    Nor did his seven bandmates, who careened back and forth across the stage almost nonstop right from the corrosive power chords kicking off opener “Chinese Democracy.’’ Three years after the release of the album by the same name (and has it really been three years already?), the current iteration of the group still seems a bit conceptually jarring, not least because bassist (and former Replacement) Tommy Stinson’s clean blazer and spiked bedhead was entirely dissonant with the tattoos, leather, and skull imagery of most of the others.


    But despite the infinite lineup changes that filled the stage largely with strangers, the band sounded exactly like Guns N’ Roses. DJ Ashba’s guitar had the familiar creamy Les Paul tone, whether on “Sweet Child o’ Mine’’ or the more recent, drama-filled “This I Love.’’ The musicians even captured the characteristic slight hitch of funk in songs like “Rocket Queen,’’ where the dirty snarl of the guitars played off of the stop-start bounce of the riff.

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    Less effective were the explosions punctuating “Live and Let Die,’’ which weren’t timed quite right, adding a weird drag right when the song was supposed to fire up. There were more pyrotechnics during “You Could Be Mine’’ and the closing “Paradise City,’’ but by then, Guns N’ Roses, in whatever form, had proven itself more than capable of exploding for nearly three hours without them.

    The Pretty Reckless opened with ’80s-style glam metal just a notch above a tuneless churn. Former “Gossip Girl’’ actress Taylor Momsen’s voice had a husky power, but the band’s fate was sealed when she tried repeatedly to start a singalong and the audience wouldn’t have it.

    Marc Hirsh can be reached at