Saturday, June 6, 1992

Guns N' Roses @ Hippodrome de Paris-Vincennes, Vincennes - June 6th, 1992

Even though this concert happened thirty years ago, I can still remember everything about it. Guns N' Roses was the biggest rock band in the world, and my favorite one as well. It had been five years since they released their debut album Appetite For Destruction and less than nine months since they released their then-current albums Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II.

I was about to turn fourteen, so I was the perfect age. Young teenage boys were the target demographic, but thanks to their ballads and bad-boy image, Guns N' Roses also had a significant female following. Which is why the posh racetrack was full. In fact, the lawn had been so damaged by head bangers and the band patch on denim jacket crowd that it was decided after the show they would no longer be serving as a venue for a rock band ever again. It was reported at the time that 75000 people were in attendance, but it ended up being more like 60000. That's still a lot of beers sold. 

The first band of the evening was a then little known group from Seattle called Soundgarden. They had just released their breakthrough album Badmotorfinger a few months prior and they played a very short set consisting of merely seven songs. This was my first exposure to the band that would end up becoming huge and defining the Grunge sound.

Then came Faith No More, which by then was one of my favorite bands. I had been a huge fan of their album The Real Thing, and their new one Angel Dust was a phenomenal step forward. The band would also move on to even greater things and becoming one of the best so-called alternative bands of the nineties.

It was still daylight when the headliners came on. This was their first concert in France, and it was broadcast live on MTV, which means that volatile frontman Axl Rose was uncharacteristically punctual. In fact, there was none of the outbursts he was famous for at that time. He did launch into a few tirades, most notably insulting Warren Beatty of all people when he introduced Double-Talking Jive, but every one on the stage was on their best behavior. Sure, Slash and Duff looked blasted out of their minds, but the performance never suffered.

There were quite a few guests that had been announced, and sure enough, as early as the third song, Axl left the stage to give way to Lenny Kravitz, who performed Always On The Run with the rest of the band. Slash had famously played on the track, taken from the blockbuster Mama Said album. Jeff Beck had been announced as well, and there is footage of him rehearsing with the band before the show, but he never made it onstage.

Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith did make it however, and the crowd went nuts as they joined Guns N' Roses on killer versions of Train Kept-A-Rollin' and Mama Kin.

The whole show in fact was amazing, with fantastic renditions of songs from the entire career of the band (which was pretty short back then) and a bunch of covers as well. The concert is easy to find on YouTube (there is a link to it HERE) and, in retrospect, the problems that would lead to the inevitable implosion of the band are clearly visible. But for a young kid going to his third rock concert, this was a defining moment.

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