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That’s how it’s done kids, and that’s why they are one of the top rock bands in history. The last time I witnessed this steamroller was 24 years ago at Eastern Creek in Sydney when it was total mayhem during the Use Your Illusion tour, a rock fan's dream concert. Now we have all gotten on and you just didn’t know how the Gunners would ‘stack up’ all these years later. Not only were they up to task, they killed it. Sweat, long hair, raw energy, power guitars and supreme vocals, it was like a rock fantasy come to life. I usually take more notice of everything else that’s going on around me, but last night I just didn’t want to. I needed to focus on this monster, this visual and audio masterpiece that was unfolding before me. I think I may have an understanding of what a really bad crack addiction is like now, as this gig was all encompassing and swallowed me whole, and now for the next few days it will be all I can think about. Let alone what I will be carrying on about forever when I talk about my last Guns N' Roses concert, but let's not let this be the very very last tour, ok? Pretty please rock gods? I will grovel.
With a 40 degree heat wave, there was no deterring over 50,000 Gunners fans from trekking it in to ANZ Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park for an event of a lifetime in this 'Not in This Lifetime' Tour. Aptly titled but lucky for us Axl and Slash have moved past any long ago differences to treat us to one of the most invigorating rock concerts in Sydney history and for the first time since 1993, we have Axl, Slash and Duff on stage together. The whole outer stadium area was like a big carnival: food, music and entertainment, while Rose Tattoo cranked it inside before the Gunners came on and it was a glorious way to support these rock legends and their passionate fans. So from the get go, the magic was sprinkling itself all over, like invisible snow flakes. I couldn't wait to get in there and be immersed, and then it began, fireworks and the cracking 'It's so Easy'... just that sound, that voice .. 'It's so easy, easy. When everybody's trying' to please me baby....' can I write OMFG like a millennial? Straight into orbit and I have zero interest in coming back to earth any time soon. My face was already resembling the Edvard Munch 'Scream' painting and I knew there and then that the chance of spontaneous combustion was not a far away possibility.
The Gunners then forged through 'Mr Brownstone', 'Chinese Democracy' and the crazy 'Welcome to the Jungle'. The Batman 'SMASH/BANG/BASH' could have appeared in the air, the guitars were mind blowing. Axl was just beyond exceptional and every single band member oozed personality and genuine happiness. This is what makes a gig even better, when all members are having a blinder and actually want to be where they are. You can't fake this, as vibes don't lie. The Sydney crowd just lost it, and kept losing it. There was non stop screaming, dancing, air punching and of course the mega high testosterone levels letting loose. So I'm sure the shenanigans that I witnessed were only a few out of many within the crowd but I expected nothing less. This was a very special night.
The Gunners were like an out of control inferno, dripping in sweat, constantly running around the stage, just pushing and pushing as the concert reached even higher heights. 'Better', 'Estranged' and 'Live And Let Die', which I consider one of the best cover versions in rock, were just nuts. I know stadium gigs have sound carrying issues but where I was in the Jungle Pit, it was pure Heaven. Slash's guitar work was bliss, vibrating through my body with every song and guitar change. Every signature snake slide dancing from Axl had the crowd going ballistic. We even saw some Axl 'smiles' throughout the evening. I had too many favourites but 'You Could Be Mine' just ripped the place apart. This is a band where live overshadows recorded, not to say the recorded versions aren't perfect but live is in a totally different realm.
Keeping up was exhilarating. Of course 'Sweet Child O' Mine' tore it up, but then when AC/DC's Angus Young made it on stage and jammed with the Gunners on 'Whole Lotta Rosie' and 'Riff Raff', Sydney was just beside itself in pride and overindulgence. Faces everywhere getting a little 'ACCA DACCA' mixed in with their beloved Gunners. A hard rock fan's wet dream. I'm a big Pink Floyd fan so the instrumental of 'Wish You Were Here' with Slash and the other Gunner's phenomenal guitarist, Richard Fortus, was stunning. Then watching Axl's piano being moved onto stage brought goose bumps and the anticipation for another Gunner's classic 'November Rain' . We Love the 'Layla' piano exit intro but I adore 'November Rain's' Slash solos. The whole night was just saturated with Slash brilliance and it was truly mesmerising. I was totally engrossed in both guitarists and their actual guitars. Being able to watch each guitar switch is one of my favourite things and this was guitar paradise.
Moving through 'Knocking' On Heaven's Door', it was 'Nightrain' time and the stadium just erupted. Hair flying and heads banging everywhere, we needed more of this craziness. It was bedlam. I can only imagine how it all looked from the stage or from the higher grand stands. The encore including 'Don't Cry' and then finishing with 'Paradise City' had more fireworks and chaos. Words do not do this gig any justice, it's Guns' n Roses on steroids but with perfect sound, perfect singing and no distortion. Every person on stage showed their exceptional talent and love for what we were all here celebrating which was "Music".
This is the start of my 28th year of live music and I never compare artists as you just can't and you shouldn't but I have to say, this would have to be within my top 5 ever for rock concerts. I had severe PTSD before the gig even finished as I wanted another continuous run of what I had just experienced. I am so envious of everyone who is off to the stadium again for Sydney's second show, and if you haven't seen them before then get ready to get your head blown off. This will be one of the most memorable and ingraining musical experiences of your life and you need to lap it up. The Guns N' Roses of old aren't just well and truly alive, they are kicking butt and all I can say is I wish we could have this on our rock calendar every couple of years. I'm pretty sure I can say that not just for myself, but for the 50,000+ fans there last night and the millions of fans around the world. You were all brilliant and I will relish my few hours spent with you last night until the next time.
ADELAIDE reprise - 18 Feb 2017:
What did I say about their Sydney concert? I couldn’t stop thinking about it so I had no choice but to organise Adelaide at lightning speed and get over there for another hit of this Guns’n Roses monster at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night. What another spectacular night, Adelaide was on the biggest high hosting the Fringe Festival, there were tens of thousands of people everywhere, and then you had this cracker jack stadium gig as your big cherry on top. And this is no ordinary cherry, this is the biggest and sweetest cherry you have devoured in your life.
Different to Sydney as we had no Angus Young or ACCA DACCA songs but it’s not like you’re slumming it, adding in tracks like 'Yesterdays, 'Used To Love Her' and the awesome Duff Damned cover of 'New Rose' which my Sydney gig didn’t have.. Oh Boy, another amazing performance from one of the best rock bands that has ever graced this earth. Again, I usually look around a little but just couldn’t take my eyes off the band. Every single band member was magnetic, such is this energy and power that draws you in so deeply for those 2.5 hours. Axl, without a doubt, one of the best front men in history and Slash, one of the best guitarists in history makes what? A special potion that you can never bottle. You just have to see this magic live, just once, and I can guarantee you, you will be affected just as I have been by this majestic musical masterpiece. Gunners, you are one of my musical Da Vinci’s. Can I get to another show?? Oh please music gods, let me squeeze a third one in somehow. I promise to be a good girl... (Obviously still not being able to think rationally 2 days later).
© MARINA KNEZEVIC. All rights reserved.