Guns N Roses- Not In This Lifetime Tour (Washington, DC)

GNR DC2Guns N Roses was my first experience with music that truly spoke to me.   I remember a lot of my friends were into pop, I listened to it and I didn’t really care for it. The sound just didn’t make me feel anything.  My first memory of MTV was watching it with my older cousin. He was into rock and heavier music, so we watched Headbanger’s Ball when it came on Saturday nights. Just in case you aren’t familiar with MTV, it really did used to be Music Television. There were music videos, programs about music, and concerts. Not all this knocked up 15 year old girl nonsense that plagues the channel today.  Seriously, if you watch that stuff, you are part of the problem. But I digress.  Anyway, my cousin turns it on and I remember hearing this guitar riff.  Then it repeats as a young man steps off a city bus with a suitcase under his arm and a piece of straw in his mouth.  The song was Welcome to the Jungle and I was introduced to Guns N Roses.

I remember sitting through the video and the imagery along with the music was something I had never seen before. I fell in love with it almost immediately.  I was lucky to have parents that overlooked the language in the lyrics and purchased the album for me.  Guns N Roses became my favorite band.  I had posters, albums, patches, shirts. I WAS IN LOVE!!!!  However, despite my parents being somewhat cool, they still determined that I wasn’t able to go concerts just yet.  They did come to town with Metallica and Faith No More, my one chance to see them and I was going to miss out.  Then heartbreak occurred when they broke up.  Duff and Slash went on to other projects, while Axl recruited new “members” and continued under the name Guns N Roses.

I was and I am still a fanboy to the end. Axl has gotten a lot of static over the years.  It took eight years for Chinese Democracy to be released and when it finally came out, it received a lot of negativity.  I liked the album and I still like the album.  Is this the fanboy coming out? Maybe, but after this tour and seeing them perform select songs from the release, I bet some change their minds.  It has a few songs that is head scratching, but at the same time, there are some really good damn songs on that album!  Still stuck on the fact that I will never see Guns N Roses live, I have always looked for other ways to try and witness a piece of the magic that I desired.  Last year, I went to the Carolina Rebellion. Once of the bands there was Slash, with Myles Kennedy singing. Now, no offense to Myles, but he is no Axl. So I sat through the set watching Slash play Paradise City and Sweet Child O Mine, coming to the reality that this is the best that it will ever get for me.  I enjoyed it for what it was; I got to see Slash play live! But nothing compares to Axl singing these songs along with Slash shredding his guitar.


Not even a year goes by and it is reported that Axl, Slash, and Duff are talking again.  Right away, I am thinking “TOUR! TOUR! TOUR! OH MY GOD!!!! PLEASE TOUR!!!!” I remember the DJ on our local radio station saying that even if they did decide to tour, it would take years of talks between their lawyers to iron out the details. This didn’t sound right to me. I understand the legal side of it may be a bit complicated but if they want to get back together, play and MAKE MONEY….then I don’t see how this can’t be worked out sooner than later.  A few months later, it is announced that they are going to reunite at Coachella (after a surprise show on April 1st at the Troubadour, which had to have been real. Even for Axl, this would be a cruel joke.) and then they are going to tour in different stadiums across the US. So take that local DJ!  I knew right away that my only shot was going to be driving to Washington DC. I mean they had to play at DC, right?  Right!  DC was announced and at 10am on April 8th, I was at my computer at work grabbing tickets for the show that I have waited pretty much my entire life on.

The past couple of months, I have been looking forward to the concert and at the same time crossing my fingers that Axl wouldn’t have a moment and cancel the whole tour. Hate to say that it wouldn’t be surprising. Hell, I even bought ticket insurance for the first time in my life!  Sunday night, the lights went out and the crowd erupted. The show began with the Looney Tunes theme, which looking back, it is pretty appropriate considering the crazy escapades this band has been a part of. One by one the band took the stage, as each member walked out, the crowd got louder. Then Axl appears and if there was a roof on the stadium, it would have been blown right the hell off! Axl starts off with “It’So Easy” and I’m finally standing there seeing my favorite band of all time playing right in front of my eyes.

They put on an amazing show in front of an estimated 40,000 fans. They played a majority of their  1987 debut album, Appetite for Destruction, which has sold more than 18 million copies and is one of the bestselling releases of all time. To my surprise, they performed three songs from Chinese Democracy, an album that Slash and Duff has nothing to do with. But they played it like they owned it.  I have to also mention that they started the show on time! GN’R has historically been a band that plays when they decide to play. For a man that is 54 years old, Axl proved early speculations all wrong.  The man can still sing his ass off! He screeched and howled during You Could Be Mine, as well as whistled and sang Patience perfectly during their encore. He has lost weight and you wouldn’t believe that he is just coming off from breaking his foot with the way he ran around the stage.  He is the Axl of old! He smiled a lot, bowed after certain songs seemed humble, and just genuinely looked happy.

Slash remains the icon he has grown to be. Donning his trademark black top hat and scraggly haircut, he crushed each solo with finesse and owned each song. His fret word is a sight to be seen!  He played a solo take on The Godfather theme and teamed with the other guitarist, Richard Fortus on an instrumental rendition of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here. Duff continues to grind out those gritty bass riffs and he took the lead vocals in the cover of Iggy and the Stooges’ Raw Power.  Frank Ferrer, who celebrated his 10 years with the band, was amazing and didn’t make me miss the previous drummers Matt Sorum, or Steven Adler as much as I thought I would.  Keyboardists Dizzy Reed, who has been with the band since the Use Your Illusion days and Melissa Reese hit on all marks as well.

One of the highlights for me was seeing Axl playing the piano for November Rain, another song that Slash stole with his solos.  I was hoping he was going to climb on top of the piano during the song, but instead got to see him finish his solos with sparklers firing off around him.  I got to hear all my favorites from Welcome to the Jungle to a 10 minute version of Rocket Queen. I also got the proper version of Sweet Child O Mine that I think I deserved!  The night ended up with a blistering performance of Paradise City. At the end of the fan favorite, confetti exploded around Axl as fireworks lit up the stage and fired from atop of the stadium.  The show ended and I could have easily gone for another couple of hours. It was bitter sweet to see the band standing, arms interlocked, bowing to the audience. The one thing in my life that I never thought I would see had become reality.  Axl’s saying “It’s a beautiful night and you make it so much better.”  from earlier in the evening replaying in my mind.


Last Sunday was one of the best nights of my life.  I got to meet a lot of really cool fans. We shared stories of how old we were when Guns N Roses broke up. We shared our opinions of the time lapsed where each member was off doing their own thing. And the best part was sharing our happiness when it was announced that Axl, Slash, and Duff were back together and were going to tour. None of us could believe that we were going to get to see them live.  I am seriously looking at tickets right now to travel to Philly to see them again.  The tickets are a bit pricey, but the two and half hour set that they put on was more than worth the price. I definitely want to see them again, because who knows, this could be the last time they tour again.  All looks well right now, but this was only the second show they performed with each other. I do hope they continue to work out their issues, continue to tour, and maybe even record a new album!  Bottom line is, if you are a Guns N Roses fan, you have to go and see them on this tour.  It is truly an experience that you have to witness for yourself!

Check out the setlist here! Guns N Roses Setlist- Washington DC

Dave Hildebrand
My name is Dave. I'm in love with all types of film. I enjoy comics, video games, and writing. I also love soccer. I love watching all competitions and I play goalkeeper as well. Hit me up on Twitter @sycotic

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