A lot of musical legends have left us this year – namely David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Prince and Merle Haggard. And while we have mourned their deaths and have been filled with sadness, 2016 is also a time to rejoice as it is the year that Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan decided to bury hatchets and get back on the road together as Guns N' Roses for the first time since 1996.
Guns N' Roses brought the “Not in This Lifetime” tour to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday. And it was a triumphant return from, superlative alert, the greatest rock band of the last 30-plus years.
Appetite for success
Guns N' Roses were the most influential band of Generation X, hands down. I will make the case that Pearl Jam and Soundgarden are in the top of the list, but no band made an impact on popular culture like GNR. The loud, punk rock voice of my generation was and always will be GNR. Sorry, Nirvana.
“Appetite for Destruction” sound like nothing like I had ever heard when it made its debut in 1987. I was already of fan of the live EP “Live Like a Suicide” and had basically worn my cassette copy away when “Appetite” dropped. It was a perfect mix of hard rock, punk rock and Stones swagger and pop sensibilities. During a time when I was knee-deep in the hair metal of the days, (I was 16 when it came out), GNR blew me away.
I was fortunate to see the original five-piece band in Jackson when the opened for Motley Crue on the “Girls, Girls, Girls” tour. It remains one of my favorite concert experiences.
Better than ever
I felt that excitement again at Sunday's show in New Orleans, and not in a nostalgic way. This was Guns N' Roses playing like I've never seen them play before – and I've seen them seven times.
I've seen a lot of talk on social media from people who wish original drummer Steven Adler and original guitarist Izzy Stradlin were on this tour and it's “not cool” without them. Yeah. Whatever.
Adler became a liability to the band decades ago and Stradlin walked away by choice shortly after Adler's departure.
Get over it. It's like saying you don't want to see the Stone because Mick Taylor and Bill Wyman are gone.
Guns N' Roses 2016 – Rose,Slash, McKagan, guitarist Richard Fortis, drummer Frank Ferrer and keyboardists Dizzy Reed and Melissa Reese – are a lean, clean rock ‘n’ roll machine.
What you need to know is this: Axl sounds better than he did 20 years ago, Slash has topped himself as a guitarist and in a sea full of hipsters, millennial and millennial hipsters that filled the Superdome, nobody is cooler than Duff McKagan.
If you want to recapture the days of a volatile band on the edge of destruction, check out “Guns N' Roses Live at The Ritz.” I think I still have a copy on VHS that you can borrow.
But if you want to see pros at the top of the game musically that deliver an almost three-hour set of tight, not-bloated rock n roll, then it will be hard to find a better rock show in this lifetime.
New Orleans set list Sunday, July 31, 2016
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/New Rose
This I Love
Band intros into Slash solo - Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather/Andy Williams)
Sweet Child O' Mine
Out Ta Get Me
Jam ("Wish You Were Here/Layla”)
Knockin' on Heaven's Door
The Seeker (The Who cover)