About 90 minutes into Guns N’ Roses’ Soldier Field finale, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” kicked into gear as if the recently reunited band was coming fresh off 1987’s immortal “Appetite For Destruction” (America’s best-selling debut album of all time). Front man Axl Rose appeared absolutely ferocious, Slash’s piercing riffs towered above the stadium, while fellow original Duff McKagan kept the groove bouncing on bass alongside veteran keyboardist Dizzy Reed, plus more recent recruits Richard Fortus (rhythm guitar), Frank Ferrer (drums) and Melissa Reese (keyboard).
Guns N’ Roses more than gave everyone their money’s worth with a mostly complete and entirely engrossing retrospective that only added to the legend of hard rock’s most infamous act.
Just as the smash was beginning to wrap, GN’R seamlessly blurred into “The Star-Spangled Banner,” with Rose wishing faithful a festive and safe Independence Day as flood lights filled up the completely full field and first level of stands. While it very well could’ve signaled the end of a solid show that also included such standouts as “It’s So Easy,” “Welcome To The Jungle,” “Double Talkin’ Jive,” “Rocket Queen” and “Civil War,” the group had more than an hour to go on a tour so unlikely it could only be called “Not In This Lifetime.”
And though the Guns N’ Roses of 2016 sounded pretty close to how it left off around “Use Your Illusion” (outside of Axl’s frequent breathers), all the past dissension, drug use and drama has been replaced with a sense of responsibility that comes with elder statesman status, including not just simple holiday reminders, but impressive punctuality (at least as far as Rose’s abysmal track record goes) and seeming like everyone was actually enjoying themselves. Whether it was genuine or simply for the sake of the cameras that broadcast the players on two several story jumbotrons, the audience clearly was in “Paradise City,” particularly during a piano-centered sing-a-long of “November Rain,” the roar of “Nightrain” and an encore of “Don’t Cry.”The only elements missing were perhaps a few more apples from “Appetite For Destruction” and the mega-hit “Patience” (from its follow-up “G N’ R Lies”), any of which would’ve been welcome over three tunes from the latter day line-up’s disappointing “Chinese Democracy.” And while set lists were mostly similar between both Chicago shows, Guns N’ Roses gave Sunday’s concertgoers a bit of a surprise by swapping out The Damned’s “New Rose” for Iggy & The Stooges’ “Raw Power” (with McKagan ably stepping up to the microphone).
As the literal “Paradise City” wound down the 155 minute marathon, July 4th came a day early with a fireworks display that could easily rival anything the city has to offer, and though members returned to the stage once more, it was merely for a bow as opposed another tune. Even so, Guns N’ Roses more than gave everyone their money’s worth with a mostly complete and entirely engrossing retrospective that only added to the legend of hard rock’s most infamous act.
Click here for Guns N Roses: “Not In This Lifetime” Tour Production Preview photos from Soldier Field.
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