There are those concerts that come to town every summer. While they are always a good time, you know that if you miss it this time, you can always catch it next year. But every once in a while, there is an event that comes to town that you know you cannot miss. Such an event took place last night when Guns n’ Roses played Paul Brown Stadium (a.k.a The Jungle) in Cincinnati, OH as a part of the band’s “Not In This Lifetime tour. The tour is the first to feature original G n’ R members Axl Rose, Slash, and Duff McKagan playing on the same stage together in over twenty years. Given the significance of this reunion, perhaps a better name for this tour would be the Once In This Lifetime tour. Whatever it is called, was it ever worth the wait!
There was a buzz in the Cincinnati air all day leading up to the show. The festivities started early in the day as people couldn’t wait to experience the show that they had waited for so long. The rock n’ roll faithful made their way downtown in the early afternoon dressed in their best Guns n’ Roses t-shirts. The local bars, such as The Holy Grail and Jefferson Social provided a perfect soundtrack to their rock n’ roll patrons by blasting G n’ R tunes over their speakers. As cool as the vibe was on the Cincinnati streets, most fans made their way over to Paul Brown Stadium shortly after the gates opened at 6:30pm. As the fans filed into the stadium, the anticipation could be felt as each minute ticked away closer to show time.
As has been the case with the band for years, the question that seemed to be asked the most was, “What time will they hit the stage?” After a few minutes of neon images of firing guns playing on the large video screens on each side of the stage, the lights went out at 9:30pm sharp and Paul Brown Stadium was no more. We were officially in the Jungle (A titled earned as the home of the NFL Cincinnati Bengals.) After a recording of the Looney Tunes overture played, Axl and Company ascended on the stage with a fierce opening one-two punch made up of “It’s So Easy” and “Mr.Brownstone” from the Appetite for Destruction album. It was in those first few minutes that the magnitude of what was happening really set in. It was almost all too much to take in at one time…almost. On one part of the stage you had the most iconic front man in the history of rock n’ roll wielding his mic stand and singing in his trademark scream. Then on another part of the stage there was Slash, one of the most iconic guitarists playing his Les Paul looking cool and calm in his signature top hat and shades. And then there is Mr. Duff McKagan playing bass and being one of the coolest dudes in rock n’ roll period. Holy crap…THERE WAS GUNS N’ ROSES!!!
By the end of third song, reality set in and composure began to return, but it was short lived. With a simple question, Axl managed to send the thousands of fans into a frenzy. That simple question was, “Do you know where you are?” Rose then paid tribute to the legacy of Paul Brown by saying that the band knew where they were. Then after once again asking the crowd, the band broke into “Welcome to the Jungle.” If there was a roof on top of the stadium, it would have been blown off by the power of that moment. For the next three hours the band delivered songs from the Appetite era, the Illusion era, and the Chinese Democracy era. It was refreshing that the band did not choose to forget any part of their history, no matter who was playing the songs. Another thing abut the band that was obvious by the end of the night was the undeniable chemistry that exist between the members. A perfect example was right before the band performed “November Rain.” Axl sat at the piano and began to play the outro to Derek and the Dominos classic, “Layla.” After just a couple of bars, Slash and McKagan gathered around Rose and jammed out an epic version of the piece of music. It was a magical moment to witness.
As much attention as was given to the reunion of the three original members, credit has to be given to band members Richard Fortus (guitars) and Frank Ferrer (drums.) These two gentlemen have been a part of the band for a number of years (Fortus since 2001, Ferrer since 2006) but may have been lost a bit in the shadow of the reunion. It can’t be an easy spot to be in, but these two guys both turned in awesome performances. They both seem to be gracious to the situation, but also made it clear that they are a big part of Guns n’ Roses.
Axl’s scream. Slash’s solos. Duff’s attitude. One classic G n’ R song after another. The Cincinnati crowd saw it all. At least we thought we had…After the band wrapped up the Chinese Democracy track, “Better,” Axl announced they had a special guest. Before anyone had time to wonder who it could be, original Guns n’ Roses drummer, Steven Adler appeared on stage. This was something that has been talked about ever since it was announced that the three members were getting together. Would Adler be a part of it? On July 6, 2016 in Cincinnati, OH, that question was answered. A very refreshed and healthy looking Steven Adler got behind the drum kit and joined his G n’ R brothers in a performances of “Out ta Get Me” and “My Michelle.” The last time that these four men had played together on the same stage was on April 7, 1990. It was August 1, 1988, when that lineup last appeared together on a Cincinnati stage when the band opened a show for Aerosmith at Riverbend Music Center. You could see from the huge smile on the drummer’s face what the moment meant to him. Seeing Slash and Duff climb the riser to acknowledge Steven was an awesome moment that not many will soon forget. Rock n’ roll history was made on this night.
Guns n’ Roses did much more than just put on a show here last night. In many ways, the band re-wrote history. No more is the discussion about what time they went on? What pissed off Axl? How far gone were Slash and Duff? Now the discussion will be about the night one of the biggest bands in the world came to town and played one of the most memorable shows in our city’s history. As the years pass and our memories fade, we will wear our t-shirts from this show as our badge of honor, as if to say yeah, I was there when Cincinnati rockers welcomed Guns n’ Roses to The Jungle. I was there the night Axl, Slash , Steven and Duff played together for the first time in over a quarter of a century. With Guns n’ Roses, you never know what the future will bring. Because July 6th, 2016 in Cincinnati, OH was Once in a lifetime.
Guns n’ Roses – Cincinnati, OH – 7/6/2016
– It’s So Easy
– Mr. Brownstone
– Chinese Democracy
– Welcome to the Jungle
– Double Talkin’ Jive
– Live and Let Die
– Rocket Queen
– You Could Be Mine
– You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory/Attitude
– This I Love
– Civil War
– Band intros into Slash solo – Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather/Andy Williams)
– Sweet Child O’ Mine
– Out Ta Get Me (w/Steven Adler)
– My Michelle (w/Steven Adler)
– Jam (“Wish You Were Here”)
– November Rain
– Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
– The Seeker
– Paradise City