Review by: Bailey Guinigundo
Photo Credit: Katarina Benzova
(Orlando FL) Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Not in This Lifetime’ show ripped through the City Beautiful to a massive crowd of more than 50,000 at Camping World Stadium last Friday July 29. For almost 2 ½ hours, the hard rock group fronted by lead vocalist, Axl Rose, alongside original band members Slash (lead guitar) and ‘Duff’ McKagan (bass) put on a rock-n-roll clinic at the former Citrus Bowl Arena. For diehard GN’R fans, the show was highly significant in that this tour marked the first time since the 1993 ‘Use Your Illusion’ tour that these 3 specific members last performed together, and the Orlando performance was the only Florida city listed for the 25-city North American tour.
The band originally formed back in 1985 with 2 other members – Izzy Stradlin (rhythm guitar) and Steven Adler (drums) – who were not included in this ‘reunited’ lineup. With new band additions – Richard Fortus (guitar), Frank Ferrer (drums), Dizzy Reed (piano), and newest member Melissa Reese (synthesizer) – the group rocked Camping World Stadium with a single set of 21 songs followed by a 3-song encore, performing a mix of songs from their Appetite for Destruction (1987), Use Your Illusion (1991), and Chinese Democracy (2008) albums, paying tribute to Pink Floyd (‘Wish You Were Here’), The Who (‘The Seeker’), The Godfather movies (via one of Slash’s multiple solos throughout the night), and Looney Tunes (the theme music to which the band hyped up the crowd before taking to the stage).
While the band didn’t hold much dialogue with the crowd that night, it really didn’t need to do so in order to connect with its fans. Even prior to them taking to the stage, lazer images flanking both sides of the 71-foot wide stage were broadcast on LED panels, each nearly as large as the stage itself, bore the text ‘Not in This Lifetime’ with the hashtag ‘#WeAreOrlando’ and rainbow-colored heart to its side. Then with all lights out in the stadium and cell phones lit up all throughout its interior, the band came out hard to ‘It’s So Easy.’ Axl was dancing awkwardly all over the stage, but who freaking cared – it was better to see him dancing his ‘my… my… serpentine’ versus seeing him immobilized onstage in a cast when he broke his foot just this past April. Thank goodness he’s apparently fully recuperated!
Quite frankly, growing up I was never really a GN’R fan. Axl and Slash scared me. I couldn’t dance to their music either, which bothered me. But now after having watched them live? OMG… not only am I now a big fan of theirs now, but I would also argue that this was probably the best concert I’d ever seen. I’ve played the piano since I was 5, and played the drums in a band for 5 years, but my God… the things that I witnessed Slash doing on that guitar were indescribable. His fingers traversed up and down the neck of his Les Paul at blistering speeds. The musicality of his delivery was beyond impressive as he essentially created a whole other dimension of sound which co-led each song right up there with Axl’s lead vocals. With respect to Axl’s vocals, I was dumbfounded to hear not only the same high-pitch delivery that made Axl’s voice an unmistakable one back in the 80s, but the machine-gun-rapid diction with which he sang each song had me standing with dropped jaw watching in amazement. With Duff working every angle of the stage, I think he may have made direct eye contact with every single person within the first 10 rows, while driving the bass line in perfect unison with the bada$$ drumming from the back of the stage. Together with the piano and the synth accompaniment, GN’R sounded ‘whole’, and they sounded DAMN good.
The ‘Not in This Lifetime’ tour will play out the rest of this North American leg until late August before kicking back up out of country later this October. Get a ticket while you can at a Paradise City close to you… you don’t want to miss out on this one.
It's So Easy
Welcome to the Jungle
Double Talkin' Jive
Live and Let Die
You Could Be Mine
You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory/Attitude
This I Love
Band intros into Slash solo - Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather/Andy Williams)
Sweet Child O' Mine
Out Ta Get Me
Jam ("Wish You Were Here/Layla”)
Knockin' on Heaven's Door