You can go to plenty of gigs and come away thinking you’ve had a good night, enjoyed the band and that’s it.
But every so often you see something that you know is out of the ordinary; that raises the hairs on the back of your neck and gives you the feeling that you really were in the presence of something special.
Watching Guns n’ Roses at the Olympic Park I felt exactly that. But I also felt a massive pang of regret.
The show was epic, of course, and anyone with half an ear for music cannot fail to be moved by the opening bars of some of their classic tunes.
But the regret came from seeing them now. And not in 1988.
This is the closest approximation to the classic line-up I guess anyone will see nowadays, but to have seen them at the time of Appetite for Destruction must have been truly extraordinary.
When they were still untouched by the baggage that comes with being the world’s biggest rock band and they had one of the greatest hard rock albums ever recorded in their back pocket.
Not being able to compare the two I can’t really say that this show was diminished in any way. It was a two-and-three-quarter hour demonstration of what a stellar rock band can do.
There were no phoney showbiz moments, no lengthy call and response passages to fill time, just massive anthems, perfectly chosen covers – including The Damned’s New Rose which they included on their Spaghetti Incident album and Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun as a tribute to the recently departed Chris Cornell – and a boatload of energy.
Sure Axl disappeared occasionally to change into another big hat and possibly get a slug of oxygen and there wasn’t huge amount of interaction between the three principals to suggest they are now getting on like a house on fire but it didn’t look or sound like a cynical money-making exercise.
And when they kicked in to Welcome to the Jungle and Axl did his trademark side-to-side shuffle for the first time it was worth every penny.
And, just as an in joke, now literally everybody in the Western world knows the intro to Sweet Child O’ Mine.
They are playing at a minor league baseball park here in town, but even the cheapest seats are $65, and I just don’t care for them that much, sorry. I don’t like his voice, and, despite Axl’s and my mutual undying love for the Pet Shop Boys (true story, no word of a lie), I don’t like his attitude either.
His band doesn’t represent the kind of hip-swinging swagger metal best represented by the eminently danceable, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, and Van Halen, so I never paid that much attention to them, to be honest. I like Slash though, or at least I think I do.
Plus, the length of time I’ve made you wait for a reply to this post is now concurrent with the amount of time Axl Rose makes the fan base wait for them to get on to the bloody stage, so that’s that settled, then.
All good points – except Thin Lizzy who I never warmed to – and the fact that at exactly 7.45pm as the pre-show bulletins indicated, Axl was on stage ready to rock!