Timeline of Events:
July 21, 1987: Guns N' Roses Appetite for Destruction album comes out.
July 27, 1987: I come out of the womb 10 days early, presumably rocking a baby top hat, baby aviators, baby devil horns, and a baby cigarette.
~ Nothing significant happens for a while. ~
July 19 & 20, 2016: I see Guns N' Roses in concert TWO DAYS IN A ROW, making them officially the best two days of my life.
If I wanted to further annotate this timeline, I would add the parts where I realized Guns N' Roses existed, realized they were amazing, realized they broke up, and realized they would probably remain on my Sad Concert "Fuck-it" List forever (along with David Bowie and Prince).
THEN I would add bullet points for all the various whispers over the years from The Internet about Axl and Slash reconciling their differences, and all the many speculative messages I sent to tolerant yet disinterested friends gushing about this. And finally, I would draw hearts and flowers around GNR's announcement to perform again together at Coachella, and all of the hints at a stadium reunion tour, leading me to sign up for an update as soon as tour dates were released. Sooner or later, the stadium tour was announced, and my wildest music fantasies had been realized!!!
TL;DR: VERY long story short, as you all know, they got the band back together and are currently on a huge stadium tour, aptly titled Not In This Lifetime.
Because of my fangirling out all over the emailing list, I was able to score pre-order tickets to see them at the New England Patriots' Gillette Stadium, the same place I had seen Bon Jovi exactly 3 years before. Then I spent 4 months GETTING HYPE for this concert, which I knew would be an experience to remember.
I will be honest: I kept my expectations really open (read: very low) for this. I knew I was going to pay a ton of money for nosebleed seats for a concert that wasn't even guaranteed to be good. I had heard so many stories over the years of them being questionable in concert, especially Axl Rose in more recent years. I was well-prepared for him to show up late, play a short set, sound terrible, or all of the above.
Also, I had to reconcile with the fact that he was no longer going to look like this.
I did however have very high expectations for Slash, who has perennially been amazing forever. For someone whose spoken voice I have literally never heard, he is such a hero of mine! He even played a lot of songs with Michael Jackson, which is probably more of why I heart him so goddamned much. Slash is the best and most badass guitarist that has ever lived, and I'm willing to fight you over that.
Now that I have given an adequate background of just how crazy excited I was for my rock n' roll dreams to come true, let me review the concert!!!
I will spare description of my travels to and from Gillette, because anyone who has ever gone there can attest to that madness. As soon as my friend Sarah and I got upstairs to our nosebleed seat section, a staff member approached us and told us he was going to upgrade us to floor seats on the field - FOR FREE! He said it was because we "looked like nice girls". Well, Sarah has purple hair and I had on a shirt cut halfway down to my bellybutton. More accurately, we looked like we were lookin' for a "bad" time, and that is just what we got!
After pounding a beer because Axl requested no bottles on the field, we got down to our 50-yard-line-ish seats as the opening act, Lenny Kravitz, was starting up. I have never really been a big fan of his, but I will say that he sounds and looks fabulous live! His band is really good too. I still probably won't seek his music out, just because it isn't my type, but I definitely appreciated their great performance.
Once their hour long set ended, it was time for shit to get real. We had some downtime for a bit, and then the GNR logo appeared on the screens. Eventually the guns in the logo started firing, and everyone got really excited!! A few minutes later the band took the stage to "It's So Easy", then launched into "Mr. Brownstone".
I have to say I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY by their performance! Not only did they come on earlier than scheduled, but they played a three hour set! They played almost every song you could want to hear, many songs that I now have a new appreciation for, and several covers that were just incredible. I was happy to stand for three hours down in the field, craning my neck to see a glimpse of them on the actual stage! There was so much energy out there.
Axl sounded almost like he did 25 years ago, and ran around the stage like always. Slash was of course fucking face-meltingly amazing. Duff McKagan was still just as awesome, and the guys who replaced Izzy Stradlin and Steven Adler were incredible! They also have a couple keyboardist/back-up vocalists who were fab as well. They had all kinds of special effects including gunshot sounds and fire bursts. During the closer, "Paradise City" of course, they had a giant confetti blowout and fireworks display over the stadium.
Axl had a couple "costume changes", during which the others conducted several jam sessions. These included Slash's famous rendition of the "Godfather" theme, Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here", Rolling Stone's "Angie", and the instrumental part of "Layla", in which Axl joined in with piano before launching into "November Rain". As a full band, they also did "The Seeker" by The Who during the encore.
They also played a few songs from Chinese Democracy. The album gets a lot of shit, but if you add Slash and Duff back into the equation, you realize these songs are actually pretty amazing, and that people hate Chinese Democracy just because they want to.
In addition to sounding perfectly on point with every song and solo, Slash pulled out all the stops with impressive guitar skills! He played many different guitars, including a double guitar. He played slide guitar, and also did the talk box!
The only song I missed was "Don't Cry", which I read had been alternated with "Patience" in the encore. I love both, but I couldn't choose a favorite between them! I was pretty disappointed to miss "Don't Cry", but that all changed the next day when my friend Nicole called me up and asked if I wanted to see the show again FOR FREE IN THE SKY BOX SEATS!!!
So yeah, that happened. Free food and drinks in the front row of the sky box at Gillette Stadium watching Guns N' FuckN' Roses! I felt like Cinderella! It was a different experience being up there, but I had a much better vantage point to watch the band with an unimpeded view. Of course, the second performance was just as good, if not better, than the first. And most importantly, I got to see "Don't Cry" live, when I otherwise wouldn't have been able. :) Thanks Nicole!
I admit I got a little choked up during "November Rain" on the second night, because I felt like the luckiest girl in the world to have been able to see Guns not once, but TWICE, on this incredible reunion tour! If you live anywhere remotely close to a show on this tour, I would strongly suggest checking it out. You will not be disappointed!! I leave you with some videos that were posted by people with much better phones/cameras and vantage points than I!
Bonus Round: This one is technically from another show last week, because I couldn't find anything decent from Gillette. This song, "Estranged", is a song I had heard a few times, but didn't appreciate it until I heard it live. Now I can't get enough. Quite an underrated power ballad!