by Doug Bainton
It had been 29 years since Guns ‘N Roses introduced themselves to the world with their debut album Appetite for Destruction, but on a hot Saturday night in July at MetLife Stadium in Rutherford, New Jersey, you’d hardly know it’s been that long. Now on their “Not in This Lifetime” tour, Axl Rose and company brought us everything a fan could ask for; a playlist of hits, a few covers, a couple of jam sessions and killer pyrotechnics.
Out in the parking lot prior to the show, the anticipation and excitement was palpable. Classic GNR hits were blasting from car stereos and portable radios, band t-shirts old and new were visible everywhere and people of all ages were relishing the experience of a lifetime: getting to see Guns ‘N Roses on stage again with most of their original lineup.
Right from the opening song “It’s so easy”, the band was in perfect form. All of the energy from the crowd carried in from the lot. Axl asked the crowd one simple question to start the 4th song: ”Do you know where you are?” but he answered it for them in his signature upper register: “You’re in the jungle baby, you’re gonna die!” That was it, the whole stadium erupted and the crowd lost its mind.
Guitarist Slash (who celebrated his 51st birthday Saturday) was on point all night in his trademark top hat and what I’ll call a very appropriate New York City tribute t-shirt. His Les Paul guitars obeyed his every command and his playing has never sounded better. Slash’s return to the lineup, along with bassist Duff McKagan (who sang the band’s 10th song, a fitting cover of the Misfits’ “Attitude”) were key points in making this an epic, can’t miss event.
Rounding out the lineup were Richard Fortus on rhythm guitar, Frank Ferrer on drums and Dizzy Reed & Melissa Reese on keyboards, all of whom performed exceptionally well to give this show the full compliment of talented playing we’ve come to expect from this band.
The evening was a hot one, but Guns ‘N Roses had great energy, with a 54-year-old Axl running end to end on the huge stage all night and giving the crowd everything he had. Sweat was pouring off every part of their bodies right from the start, but they never relented.
Ending the night with an encore set and “Paradise City” as a last song gave this show the finishing touch it so richly deserved. Everyone was smiling and those who attended are still saying the words “Best. Show. Ever”.
It was incredible to see such an iconic band back on stage after so many years apart. Playing just shy of a 3 hour set, they proved that despite a storied past, some things really do get better with age.
It’s So Easy
Welcome to the Jungle
Double Talkin’ Jive
Live and Let Die
You Could Be Mine
You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory/Attitude
This I Love
Slash solo – Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather)
Sweet Child O’ Mine
Out Ta Get Me
Jam (Wish You Were Here/Layla)
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door