by Kaitlyn Thompson
The lights in the arena dim as a rumble of sound waves began emitting through the hanging sound system above the blacked out stage in front of me, glaring at the anxious fans. I can feel the bass reverberate throughout my body, and cheers from audience members quickly fill Detroit’s Little Caesar’s Arena.
Guns N Roses, previously known to be the “world’s most dangerous band,” was back in town on Nov. 2, riding the momentum of its world tour. The wait for the biggest band was a nerve-racking experience, and then suddenly, a video appeared on the screen with the classic “Guns N Roses” logo. The world had long known this band to choke on its own success with the cocky and brash personalities clashing, but within the last couple of years, the artists have put their egos aside to focus on being attentive to their fans.
After growing up listening to the band with my parents, I was finally witnessing the historic group —Guns N Roses.
Duff McKagan’s bass blasted the opening notes to the band’s classic opener, “It’s So Easy,” for the “Not In This Lifetime Tour.” The name of the reunion tour spawned from the 20-year feud between lead singer Axl Rose and guitarist Slash. In 2010, Rose was asked about a possible reunion with Slash, and he simply responded: “Not a chance…not in this lifetime at least.” Original bassist McKagan worked on mending the relationship between Axl and Slash off the stage, and he helped put the band back together to launch the two-and-a-half-year world tour.
The set list was similarly constructed to the sets that made up the band’s 1990-1993 “Use Your Illusion” world tour, which was GNR’s height of power, fame and influence. After opening with “It’s So Easy,” the bad rolled right into “Mr. Brownstone.” These two are signature songs from GNR’s debut album “Appetite for Destruction.”
From here, the set began to differ from that of the 1990’s era, moving directly into “Chinese Democracy” songs. This was a sign of compromise between Axl, McKagan and Slash because McKagan and Slash did not record this song or album with the band, having departed the band in 1996 and 1997, respectively. However, the group decided to keep the 2008 album alive with fans, even though it only contained one original Guns N Roses member—Axl.
The reunion was missing founding GNR guitarist Izzy Stradlin, who rejected the touring offer for money reasons. He normally sang about two or three songs a night to give Axl a break from his screeching vocals. With his absence, bassist McKagan took over this part of the set. He sang the heralded punk rock classics “New Rose” from the “Damned” and “You Can’t Put Your Arm Around A Memory” from his own hero Johnny Thunders.
With the fans delighting in both the familiar and the new tunes, the band then pounded through hard rocking hits “You Could Be Mine” and “Nightrain” to keep the rock 'n' roll vibe present. Slowing things down, the band entered the ballad stage of the night, performing beautiful composition pieces of “November Rain” and “Estranged,” which featured Axl on piano.
After a short break, the band returned to the stage in a garage-style setting and played the acoustic hit “Patience” with everyone sitting on the stage with an acoustic guitar. GNR closed the set with the legendary blues rocker “Paradise City,” which has always been its closing song.
As the band began to play the last song of the night, the euphoric feeling of seeing “the world’s most dangerous band” began to come to an end. The band that I grew up listening to with my parents was right in front of me. Overall, the band did an incredible job, both musically and visually. Three-and-a-half hours of rock 'n' roll was not long enough to capture the essence of the incredible band. The show was flawless, and I am still pinching myself to make sure that I was really there to see it happen. If you are ever given the chance to see this legendary band, go! It will be a night you will not forget.