Rating: 8 out of 10
Here’s a little history with my Guns N Roses. I was the first to purchase Appetite for Destruction in my circle of friends and for almost a year, the band went unnoticed. Initially, I thought the album was great and we went to see them open for Alice Cooper at the UIC Pavilion in 1987. Remarkably we paid $8 for a show that was almost canceled due to lack of ticket sales. A year later, Guns N Roses would be filling football stadiums and selling millions of records, elevating themselves to legendary status. It was at that point my fandom of the band waned as they were played ad nauseam. Their follow up releases G N R Lies and Use Your Illusion I and II were messy. The band’s raw power was turned into a grand production with a lack of direction and critical acclaim by the mainstream media. Follow up tours marred by Axl’s temperament and riots caused me to stay away. From there, line up changes, turmoil and the subsequent Howard Hughes –like the mystique of Axl Rose ended my fandom. I had no interest in Slash’s Snakepit and his gigs with Michael Jackson. Then 2004 brought us Velvet Revolver, a band that I really liked and saw quite a few times live. Axl finally released Chinese Democracy in late 2008 and I really enjoyed that recording as well. Axl ‘s live show at the House of Blues in Chicago was a great show. After the break up of Velvet Revolver, Slash released two great solo albums and some excellent tours in support of them.
When the “Not in this Lifetime” tour was announced, I was cautiously optimistic. Slash, Duff, and Axl released their best music in the last ten years since Appetite without each other. My attempts to see the tour would always coincide with more important matters such as family and work. Then, just as they are wrapping up their second North American tour, I had the opportunity to see Gun N Roses with Axl, Slash, and Duff in Los Angeles, the city where it all started.
Guns N Roses did not mess around as they exploded right out of the box with “It’s So Easy”, then “Mr. Brownstone” followed by “Chinese Democracy” and “Welcome to the Jungle”. At some point during this melee, Axl addressed the crowd saying he liked what “they did to this place”, alluding to the Forum. He was right, the new Forum is a great venue now configured specifically for music events.
The show had it all; explosions, giant video and most importantly a great band. Frank Ferrer is an outstanding pro as are Dizzy Reed and Melissa Reese who played keyboards and supplied excellent backing vocals. Richard Fortus is a kick-ass guitarist who played one of the best solos in the set during “Chinese Democracy”, which was one of the highlights of the 33 song set list. The album of the same name is surprisingly well represented with 5 tracks. Then again, this is Axl’s band.
Original members. Slash and Duff were awesome. Slash ripped on the guitar throughout the show while Duff was ever present with his larger than life stage presence. “Double Talkin Jive” is where Slash really proved his amazing playing, while the highlight of the show was the outstanding extended dual guitar riffs between Fortus and Slash during “Rocket Queen”.
The show started on time, contained 33 songs and had an amazing stage show. Guns N Roses are better than ever.
Review was written by Joe Becht. Follow him on Twitter @JoeBecht