A Tale of Two Concerts

When I was a kid my favorite band was Guns N’ Roses (GNR). I would argue still that their debut album, “Appetite for Destruction” is the greatest rock and roll album ever made; even better than Led Zeppelin IV. The trials and tribulations of the volatile band are well known and their break ups and replacing of band members has been scrutinized for years. Axl Rose, the charismatic and talented front man retained the rights to the name Guns N’ Roses and was also the man who wrote almost all of the GNR music. He has recently launched a new US tour with all his new, young band mates playing old GNR favorites and some new music. I saw their show Sunday night in Broomfield, Colorado just outside of Denver. It was pretty awesome.

I used to go to a ton of concerts when I was in high school after I got my drivers license and even during college and to a lesser extent after college. I hadn’t seen a concert since seeing AC/DC in Las Vegas two years. So when my friend Brian told me that GNR was playing Sunday night on top of a Broncos game, I booked the next ticket to Denver.

I never saw GNR when I was a kid. I was too young when they broke up and I just missed the tour they did with Metallica back in the early/mid nineties. Those are my two favorite modern day bands. I have since seen Metallica several times but never GNR, so I was really pumped.

I was also kind of nervous to see the show. The reason being, I didn’t want it to suck. I loved this band and I loved Axl when I was a kid. I actually dressed as him for Halloween at least once if not twice. I didn’t want to see Axl fat and out of shape and sounding awful with no energy. He had been criticized for this during his initial attempt at a comeback several years ago with the Chinese Democracy album. Luckily this wasn’t the case.
The show was supposed to start at 9pm. If you know the history of GNR then you knew that wouldn’t be the time. It worked out very well though because they had the Giants game on the TV at the bar in the arena so we got to watch that amazing comeback after just leaving the Broncos amazing comeback. It was a great day.

GNR came on a little after 11pm and ripped into it with “Welcome to the Jungle”; my favorite and the quintessential GNR song. Axl sounded awesome and he looked pretty good too. I didn’t bring my camera into the show so I don’t have pictures but he looked thin and in pretty good shape.

He came out wearing a black hat, dark sunglasses over a tee shirt and three big necklaces with True Religion jeans and a maroon bandana hanging from his belt loop. It was a play on classic Axl and at 49, he looked pretty good. Throughout the show he kept the same jeans on and changed tee shirts three or four times. He also changed hats about six times. He finally took his hat off for a few songs and showed he did still have hair.

My friend and I were betting that he was bald or balding and that’s why he didn’t take the hat off. He also had a bandana under the hat the way he used to back in the day.

They played some 30 songs in their three hour straight set, with no breaks. They played nearly all songs off of Appetite except for My Michelle, Anything Goes and Out to Get Me. They opened with Jungle and ended with Paradise City. It was pretty awesome.
There were a lot of loud pyrotechnics and the stage was pretty big for a small arena. That meant you got to be really close to the stage and the band. We were second row off stage left. His band members were all in their 20’s and highly tatted up with the notable exception of GNR veteran Dizzy Reed who still played the keyboard. He was the lone guy who never really clashed with Axl. I have heard that the second GNR drummer, Matt Sorum, had played drums for some shows but not for the one I was at, but no matter, they still sounded great.
They mixed in some new songs which I wasn’t familiar with but they played mostly old stuff including all the best songs from Lies and Use Your Illusion 1 and 2. My favorite of the night was actually their awesome rendition of Estranged which in my opinion is one of the best songs ever made. It has killer guitar riffs and is very well written plus sounds awesome. Axl killed it.

On Saturday I had been offered luxury box tickets to see Jay-Z and Kanye West back in LA on Monday. Of course I accepted the offer and flew back to LA to catch the show at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. It was my first ever rap or hip hop show and I must say I wasn’t impressed.

I am sure it has a lot to do with the fact I hardly know any of the songs and couldn’t pick Kanye West out of a lineup before the show. I like Jay-Z though, the little I know of his music so I was entertained for sure but I had a few issues with the show.

First, Kanye West was wearing a leather skirt with leather leggings and a tee shirt of his own face. That annoyed me and made it hard to focus on his music which I don’t really like anyway except for that song from the Hangover. I thought Jay-Z was pretty good singing the songs I know but it’s hard for me to really pay attention at a show where I don’t know the music.

Another problem I had was the video screens behind the stage. They were constantly showing racially charged videos like KKK videos and Martin Luther King and Malcolm X videos. I am not sure what they were trying to accomplish with that type of thing. Were they comparing themselves to those two great black leaders? With the KKK videos, were they trying to alienate the 90% white audience who was at the show? I have no idea but it seemed odd to me. I did like the lasers they used in the show; it was really cool to look at.

My biggest issue with the show and the reason I will never go to another one of their shows is because they played a song called “Nigga in Paris” 9 times in a row. Yes that is right. The last 9 songs of the night were all the same song. Between each they would ask the crowd if they wanted them to get a record. I have no idea what record it was but apparently it was annoying the audience with playing the same song 9 times in a row.

Mercifully, after the ninth time the show ended. I got my ticket for free from a friend for which I am grateful and I was happy to go and see a new type of show for me. I love shows, music and concerts but I didn’t like this one.

So after two years of going to no shows, I saw two in two nights of completely different types of music. It was a fun experience but I think I’ll stick with what I know from now on. Maybe someday GNR will reunite with the original members. I will be the first one in line to get tickets!

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  1. GNR Rules! Appetite is the best album ever I agree!

  2. I hate rap but regardless, why would they play the same song 9 times? That would annoy me too! Didn’t the crowd start booing?

  3. Loved Guns N Roses in high school! You have good taste!

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