Like many of you older metalheads out there, I have listened to GnR ever since the “Appetite for Destruction” album. We jumped around playing air guitar to Slash’s solos, screamed with Axl, and mimed along to all the songs.
Some of us true GnR fans may even have attempted to replicate their look with bandanas, ripped jeans, and long hair – although the long hair was pretty common across all the 80s and 90s rock bands.
My hair was never suited as a heavy metal dude. It is super thin and the slightest nylon carpet makes it electrically charged with static, so I look like a giant tesla glass ball. So, I kept my hair fairly short most of my youth, donning the classic bowl cut.
I remember sitting in my friend’s room, painting figurines for Dungeons and Dragons. We built these elaborate landscapes while listening to Axl’s iconic voice and the awesome riffs from Slash. Man, those were the great times of my youth!
Seeing them in concert has always been on my bucket list, so when I got invited to see them live in October 2017, I of course couldn’t say no. To be honest, a vendor invited me, and I probably replied within 27 seconds of receiving the invite. I was giggling frantically as I typed up my reply “Hell Yes!“.
It is crazy it is already more than two years ago, since this amazing evening, seeing Guns ‘n Roses live at Madison Square Garden. And, what better place to witness these ’80s and ’90s legends live on stage.
I was going to the gig with my colleague, or rather my boss, who is the same age as me. Not wives. No kids. No family commitments that evening – just an evening with Axl and Slash … and the rest of the band who many don’t really know – sorry!
So many questions ran through my head as I was making my way to the Garden.
- Will I have to show ID at the entrance?
- Should I buy more than one T-shirt?
- Will the GnR female fans look the same as in the 80s and 90s?
- What time does the concert finish, as I have to get kids up early for school?
- Will the guys wear the same shirts and waive the same hairs?
- Will Axl and Slash burst into a fistfight on stage?
- Will I see men my age headbang?
- Will they play some of the hits?
- Will I be forced to listen to some of their newer stuff?
I got the answers to all my questions that evening, and some were frightening to say the least, especially as I witnessed men my age attempting to dress as we did back when, showing off their amazing blond/brown/silver manes, with more bald patches than a hairless cat. Most guys had developed a slight little beer-belly, stretching their GnR t-shirt a fair bit.
Many of the female supporters also decided to dress like they did 30 years earlier, except some of them might have grown a little all over. Many went braless from the looks of it, as their boobs were closer to their bellybutton.
But heck, we don’t care. This is the band we like. Why not honor them with loyal fans, dressed in the best GnR gear and ready for an evening with plenty of rock.
The cool thing about being invited is that you often end up in a VIP box. No need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with hard dancing sweaty guys, getting a whiff of their body odors as they raise their arms to salute these rock gods.
We were standing in a small little booth, with plenty of room, fully stocked with beers, snacks, and a buffet of snack food … and our own toilet in the suite. There was an excellent view of the stage and we could hear everything perfectly.
The Garden filled up quickly as we neared the grand start of the concert, and the anticipation grew by the minute. I was giggling like a teenager, and so was the rest of the business suit dressed guys in the VIP suite.
Suddenly, the light dimmed, the voices from the crowds below grew and the revving of a muscle-car filled the arena. People know something amazing was going to happen. The shouts became louder, revving wilder, and suddenly the drums started to join in.
The crowd went bananas. The iconic metal hand gestures flew into the air, across the arena, even in the VIP boxes, as we all hailed the rock gods about to jump on stage. We worshipping these lords of foul language, bad hair, and skinny feckers.
We were ready to be rocked of our socks!
Then, just like magic, Axl’s voice filled the arena, and he kicked off the concert with an avalanche of lights, guitar riffs, drums, and more screaming. This was absolutely amazing, and we all sucked it up and it filled our hearts with metal energy!
I’m sorry, I’m not going to describe every song, mood, and the entire experience. But, needless to say, it was an amazing evening.
There was no warm-up band. There was no break. Just three hours (yes, THREE hours) of Guns n Roses playing for the masses.
Slash was impressing all with his iconic stance, his heavy riffs that no-one can imitate, and of course his rather strange hair-cut and hat.
I wish that I had a better camera, but it is a lasting memory in my mind and you can never capture the true experience through a lense.
Axl had changed a little. He used to be this scrawny pale dude, running around on stage, screaming and bringing the energy. Most of that was still there, but he had also developed a healthy beer belly. But that did not stop him from entertaining the fans, and many of us beer belly dudes were inspired when we saw it was possible to run around topless, and women were still admiring you.
Axl had embrased the dad-bod, and enabled us to be worshipped – it is awesome to have a little belly!
They played all their great and not so great hits. It was absolutely amazing to hear ALL the songs that I’ve listened too for decades now; Paradise City, November Rain, Welcome to the Jungle, Civil War, Sweet Child ‘o Mine, You’re Crazy, Patience, Don’t Cry, Sympathy for the Devil, and Get in the Ring.
Basically every song from Appetite for Destruction and Use Your Illusion I+II … and of course their newer materials from Chinese Democrazy.
The boys really knew how to entertain. It was pretty clear that this is what they were born to do, and have been doing for decades. They have a huge following, and it grows steadily with younger fans joining the masses.
Even my kids love many of the GnR tracks, and it makes my heart melt when I see my offspring embracing the music I grew up with, and I realize that they like good ol’ rock music over this strange new pop music. I have been a good rock educator and given them a solid rock foundation.
Thank you, Axl, Slash and the other dudes on stage. You made my night and decade. You gave us a 3 hour plus concert, with non-stop songs and entertainment.
We thank you from the bottom of our rock hearts!