It’s been over 25 years since the legendary Guns N’ Roses, Metallica and Faith No More stadium tour. That was the last time the classic GNR lineup rolled through Buffalo, NY until this week. A large portion of those in attendance at New Era Field had clearly been waiting for the last 25 years to see the band they never thought they would see again, at least “not in this lifetime” as the tour is so aptly named.
It’s fair to say that most fans had begun to accept that they had missed their chance to see Guns N’ Roses with founding members Slash and Duff McKagen. For exactly that reason, those same fans began tailgating in the parking lots by mid-afternoon as though they were preparing for Sunday afternoon football game. This day, however, everyone came out a winner.
The show opened up with another reunion, as the 90’s alternative bank Live played one of their first shows back together with singer Ed Kowalczyk since his departure from the band back in 2009. Live’s set was limited to roughly 45 minutes, but they brought out all the tricks with staples “All Over You,” “I Alone” and a cover of Audioslave’s “I Am the Highway” before closing out their set with “Lightning Crashes.”
Shortly after 7:30pm, the speakers started blaring the Looney Tunes theme, which led straight into the opening pair of tracks “It’s So Easy” and “Mr. Brownstone” off of 1987’s ‘Appetite For Destruction.’ In what may have come as a surprise move to many, they jumped in “Chinese Democracy” from the 2008 album of the same name. This was one of three songs they played from that album throughout the evening. The next major staple was “Welcome to the Jungle,” which saw the crowd hit a fever pitch early on. Twenty minutes or so into the set, the biggest questions of the night was answered. Yes, they still have it! Axl still sways and struts around the stage the way he did in the band’s prime, but he’s no longer the most controversial star in rock music. The Guns N’ Roses of modern day is a more mature version of their former selves. Sure, we might miss the raw attitude of a band set on world domination that seemingly came out of nowhere in 1987, but we have a pretty solid nucleus of that band in-tact, and they appear to have buried the hatchet. As Axl stated after performing “Yesterdays,” “If that were true, we wouldn’t be here today.”
Over the course of a three-hour set, there are plenty of highlights to be found. One that stood out, however, was the sheer passion that Slash played the solo of “This I Love,” a song off of ‘Chinese Democracy’ that he had no role in writing. This was the moment that was most convincing of the idea that perhaps this band truly does enjoy playing together again now as much as they ever had.
Another big moment of the evening was with the second Chris Cornell tribute of the night, when GNR performed a spot-on rendition of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun.” There have been no shortage of tributes in the months since Cornell’s untimely passing, and this was one of the best.
Guns N’ Roses closed out their set with “Nightrain” before coming back with an encore consisting of “Patience,” a cover of The Who’s “The Seeker” and finally closing the night out with “Paradise City.”
One would expect to hear a wide range of opinions from fans as we filed out of the stadium, but everyone seemed to be in agreement. Guns N’ Roses put on an incredible, marathon-type show. This begs the question, what’s next? Will we get new material? Maybe the addition of original member Izzy Stradlin someday? One can only guess. If the last year has taught us anything about Guns N’ Roses, however, it’s to never say never!
- It’s So Easy
- Chinese Democracy
- Welcome to the Jungle
- Double Talkin’ Jive
- Live and Let Die (Wings cover)
- Rocket Queen
- You Could Be Mine
- New Rose (The Damned cover)
- This I Love
- Civil War
- Slash Guitar Solo
- Speak Softly Love (Love Theme from The Godfather)
- Sweet Child O’ Mine
- Used to Love Her
- My Michelle
- Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd Cover)
- November Rain
- Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden cover)
- Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan cover)
- The Seeker (The Who cover)
- Paradise City
Text and photos by Charlie Meister