Very few bands have worldwide name recognition like Guns N’ Roses (GNR). Not too long ago the phrase, “I’m going to a ‘Guns N’ Roses’ concert” would’ve been met with a wide range of snarky and sarcastic replies (many from the staff of this infernal rag): from the ever optimistic, “Oh! Nice, I hope they show up!” to the financially cynical, “Don’t worry, you will get a full refund.” This was how people talked about GNR.
For a period of 20 years — from 1996 up until their Troubadour warmup show in Los Angeles on April 1, 2016 — GNR was a joke. Slash and Axl Rose had not spoken in years. Band members were known to use drugs, famous for overdosing, skipping out on performances, not releasing new music and, growing old. However, on that faithful night at the Troubadour, this once dominant band that had become the butt of many jokes did something that people thought they would never see, Axl Rose, with original lead guitarist Slash and original bassist Duff McKagan share a stage, and it was magic (except for the whole Axl breaking his foot thing).
Wednesday, November 29, at the Forum in Inglewood, marked the final performance of the 8th and final leg of the Not in This Lifetime Tour. It was probably the best performance of the tour that GNR has played. They laid all rumors to rest and put all jokes aside. They showed up, they rocked out, they lived up to the hype and proved that they are no joke. Not that they hadn’t been kicking ass for the entirety of the tour, but what they did at the Forum on Wednesday, I can guarantee was not done at any other performance of this tour.
For this final leg of the tour there was no opening act. If you were able to show up early you were in for a treat. For those who could not be in their seats when they hit stage, you were forgiven. If you left early, that’s your own fault. That night everyone in attendance got way more than they paid for, a lot more. GNR played past midnight [after the encore and curtain call, my date and I walked out at 12:18am (“She’s not my special lady, she’s my fucking lady friend!”)]. Google it then watch the movie. GNR hit a personal best that night. They almost played a four-hour long set and a total of 37 songs. They even played songs from Chinese Democracy. It felt as if they didn’t want to stop playing. They knew it was the last performance of the tour. They knew that the audience knew it was the last night of the tour. They wanted to do something they knew they were not scheduled to do until next summer in Europe, and that was play their music live to an audience that was rocking out with them.
They played the cover songs with enthusiasm as if they were GNR originals. They played several tributes to recently deceased musicians including tributes to Malcomb Young, Glen Campbell, and they even did a little something for Prince. Bassist Duff McKagan even has Prince’s hieroglyphic symbol on his bass prominently positioned above the pickups.
As for my favorite part of any concert, the merchandise… I’m not saying I was expecting to see the world’s largest merch booth, but I wasn’t surprised to see it at a GNR show. But, to call an 18-wheeler’s trailer in the parking lot a “booth” would be an understatement. Over ten different shirt designs, hats, bandanas, hats, posters, sweatbands, sweatshirts, records, and almost anything from this tour was available in this “booth.” If I could have afforded it, I would have gotten one of each.
I only slept four hours that night, but I can still hear the music playing in my head. So yeah, it was worth it.