Monday, August 22, 2016

Guns N' Roses @ Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego - August 22nd, 2016

This was something I thought I'd never see again. As a kid living in Brazil then later as a young teenager living in Paris, Guns N'Roses was my band. I wore the fuck out of my Appetite For Destruction vinyl AND tape and when the Use Your Illusion albums came out on September 17th 1991, after months or false promises, years even, I was first in line at the Virgin Megastore to get my copies.

I attended their first French show on June 6th 1992, a month before my fourteenth birthday and to this day it's one of my fondest concert memories. The show was broadcast live on MTV and you can easily find it on YouTube nowadays if you want to understand why it blew this guy's impressionable young mind. Lenny Kravitz came to jam, so did Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from Aerosmith... And opening the show were two young bands: Soundgarden, which I wasn't yet familiar with, and Faith No More that was one of my favorite bands. I was never the same after that night.

And then the band imploded mid-flight. The band members then spent roughly a quarter of a century apart, with varying degrees off success. Axl came back in 2001 with a completely new line-up of the band and it sure seemed like the bad blood between the former friends meant that we'd never see them share a stage again.

Was it age, was it money, or was it something else that helped bury those old hatchets? Is it the fact that Slash and Duff are now clean and sober? Is it that Axl is now emotionally stable and professional? It doesn't matter. What matters is that the core trio is now back together and knowing how volatile and dysfunctional this band is I went to SoCal to catch them on their "Not In This Lifetime" tour before they inevitably implode again.

The Cult opened the festivities and you can find a review of their set HERE.

Right as night fell on the San Diego, the Looney Tunes theme song resonated through Qualcomm Stadium. Then the stage went dark and for a few long minutes the theme from the Equalizer movie played while the crowd was getting amped up. Finally, Duff started strumming the opening notes to It's So Easy. The lights came on and here they were, rocking like it was 1992 all over again.

They played for nearly three hours, played every hit, went deep into their catalogue, even played a few songs from the Chinese Democracy era because why not? They're GN'R canon now. It was everything I ever hoped it would be. Axl sang great, which hasn't always been the case in the past, and Slash is the last Rock n' Roll guitar hero.

I don't know how long this can last. My guess is, not very. I'd love to be proven wrong and see them several times again but I'm not holding my breath. Axl is returning to AC/DC next month and who knows if he won't become their new permanent vocalist? If this is the end for GN'R, then it's a perfect send-off.

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