While visiting family in the Philadelphia area over the holiday weekend, I had tickets to see Guns N' Roses last night. The other time I attempted to see them in Philly was in 2003, the first tour with the then new-lineup. That tour had gone wrong from the beginning and the Philly show never happened because the band never showed up. Chair throwing, t-shirt burning, and riot police in the parking lot followed. The rest of the tour was cancelled and I was worried I'd seen the end of one of my favorite bands. Thankfully, it wasn't.
I saw them again in 2006, this time in NYC, and have been wanting to see them again ever since. This current tour had been rolling along without a hitch...until last week. The show in Albany was cancelled the day before it was scheduled. Also the band hadn't been going on until 11pm, and with this show being in Camden, NJ rather than Philly, it seemed like the city's midnight ordinance would run into a problem. But I kept the faith and was rewarded with an amazing show.
The band came on just around 11pm, as expected, opening with "Chinese Democracy" as they have during the entire tour. I love this song as the new set opener. It's a great lead-in to "Welcome to the Jungle," and the two songs make for a great start to the show.
Axl sounded amazing throughout the show. At times the vocals were a bit overwhelmed by the three guitar attack of this line-up, but boy can those boys play. Bumblefoot, returning home to New Jersey, was insanely good last night.
The setlist on the current tour has done a great job of mixing in songs from every era. And now that fans have been familiar with the Chinese Democracy songs that have stayed in the rotation, "Madagascar," "Sorry," "Better" and "Street of Dreams," are all tunes that blend well with the Illusion era songs. I do miss some of the Chinese Democracy songs that have been dropped this time around like "I.R.S." and "Rhiad..." but I don't see where they'd fit. The band played for 3 hours and there wasn't a song I didn't want to hear. They can't play everything. And I can't really complain with any of the choices.
On the other side, some older songs have reappeared, including "Estranged," one of their most underrated songs. "Rocket Queen" has also come back into rotation. Of course there will always be songs I'd miss, even in 3 hours, "Civil War" and "Move to the City" most of all. But they always do a good job playing the musts. In the above photo Axl is playing piano on "November Rain." The lead-in for that song was a cover of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall." The band also played a cover "Whole Lotta Rosie," an AC/DC song that they used to play in the early days. Also, Tommy Stinson covered "Sonic Reducer," which sounded real good.
The highlight for me was a great version of "Patience," a song I think they hadn't been playing. In the spirit of GNR shows, Axl told the crowd they wanted to dedicate the next song to their agent and manager, then added that he hated them both. Classic. They rocked all the way through to "Paradise City" complete with blasts from confetti cannons and pyrotechnics. Once again the hardest working band in rock delivered an unforgettable show...thanks guys.
Special thanks to the Missus for the great pix and for being my date.