On This Day in History

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

On this date in history, 9/8/2021, Guns N’ Roses brought the big rock show to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

There are only an increasingly smaller number of bands capable of playing the stadium sized gigs in this day and age, and I have to admit I was more than a little curious to see if these guys still had the magic touch.

For starters, someone had the good sense to book a really solid opening act, Mammoth WVH, featuring Wolfgang Van Halen on lead vocals, lead guitar, and keyboards. I was impressed with their music and positively blown away by the young Van Halen’s singing. He has written stuff that doesn’t trade on his legendary father’s style or legacy, and I think he has put together a band that has the potential to make a nice career for themselves. The headliners were generous with Mammoth WVH, giving them ample stage time and good sound and lights.

Speaking of those key ingredients of a successful stadium extravaganza, GnR provided an ever shifting blend of big screen projections and lighting pyrotechnics to supplement their hard rocking attack.

It does need to be said that Axl Rose is no longer in his prime as a vocalist, but he played it smart and stayed in his lower vocal register at the beginning before working his way into the higher notes. He lacks that scalpel sharp, laser beam edge that he wielded with such swagger in the days of his youth, but he got the job done, and he tirelessly roamed the stage and worked the crowd.

Axl appeared to be in a genuinely good mood and that was definitely at odds with his attitude when I last saw these guys in a different stadium (The RCA Dome) and with a different set of touring partners (Metallica and Faith No More).

Of course, Slash has returned to the band, and his golden toned lead guitar work was prominently featured throughout the evening. Slash sure does have some nice guitars, and he coaxes that unmistakable signature sound out of all of them.

Duff McKagan held down the bottom end and provided a host of key backup vocal parts, too. The rest of the supporting players did solid work and helped round out the current version of the super-sized GnR.

Guns N’ Roses have cultivated an impressive catalog of music along the way and most of the obligatory tunes were represented; It’s So Easy, Nightrain, Mr. Brownstone, Welcome To The Jungle (with a teaser of Link Wray’s Rumble in the intro), November Rain, Rocket Queen, You Could Be Mine, Civil War (with an outro jam on Machine Gun by Jimi Hendrix), a really long blues jam after the band introductions loosely based on Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters that had Slash taking an epic guitar solo, then directly into Sweet Child O’ Mine. There were some excellent cover tunes, also: Live And Let Die (Paul McCartney & Wings, Slither (Velvet Revolver…absolutely killer!), The Seeker (The Who…featuring Slash playing a wicked Flying V), I Wanna Be Your Dog (Iggy & The Stooges, with Duff on lead vocals…awesomeness!), Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan), and perhaps the strangest and most unexpected cover of the night, Wichita Lineman (by Jimmy Webb and famously covered by Glen Campbell). A couple of songs from the infamous Chinese Democracy album were performed (and fit in perfectly), and the show was capped off by an extended four song encore culminating in the anthemic Paradise City.

Although I generally prefer a more intimate venue, there’s something to be said for the decadent grandeur of a stadium rock show. On this night, Guns N’Roses made me both nostalgic and hopeful that this rock thing might just stick around for awhile after all.

On This Day in History

On this date in history, 8/2/1988, I saw Aerosmith and Guns N’ Roses play a devastating show of hard rock brilliance at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis. GNR were riding the insane wave of popularity surrounding their debut album, Appetite For Destruction, and word in the arena prior to the show was that the upstart Guns were set to blow Aerosmith off the stage. This did not happen, but not for lack of effort by Axl Rose and company. At this time, they were still the original 5 piece classic lineup of the band, and they were phenomenal. The energy, the attitude, the songs, everything coalesced into this massively dangerous rock n’ roll entity. Axl and Slash were the latest in a prestigious line of singers and lead guitarists that included Mick & Keith, Robert & Jimmy, David Lee & Eddie, and let’s not forget Steven & Joe, but more about them in just a minute. As I was saying, Axl and Slash lit it up and had the ravenous crowd in the palms of their hands. At one point, Axl made an impassioned speech about how Aerosmith was one of the only bands that Guns would consider opening for. Aerosmith’s bad boy past reputation had paved the way for the new poster children of decadence, and this speech was a great acknowledgement of that fact. After their blazing performance, Aerosmith had no choice but to bring it on full steam ahead, and that is precisely what they did. Steven Tyler galloped around the circular ramp that went up and around the drum set 3 times in a row at top speed, riding his microphone stand like a horse during the beginning of the opening song, and never slowed down for the rest of his time on stage. Joe Perry showed no signs of being intimidated by Slash’s playing, unleashing his own sneering attack on a variety of prime axes. While Guns had just one (albeit fantastic) album of songs, Aerosmith had a vault of them and used it to great advantage. All in all, it was a clinic on how American rockers can throw down the jams. Hats off to Aerosmith for bringing along the hottest band on the scene at that time and letting them bring out the best in the headliners.

Written By Braddon S Williams aka The Concert Critic

Slash Rockumentary “Raised on the Sunset Strip”

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by Jody Haskins for The Laguna Spectator

Slash is one of the most iconic figures of the eighties and nineties heavy metal scene.

If you ever wanted to really know more about Slash, today is the day.  Universal Music Group has released a 90-minute documentary “Slash: Raised On The Sunset Strip” on Blu-ray and DVD presented by DirecTV and Guitar Center. Combining new and archival footage with personal anecdotes from Slash himself, as well as from many of his influences and colleagues.  The DVD will include interviews with Dave Grohl, Alice Cooper, Joe Perry, Nikki Sixx, Duff McKagan, Steven Adler, Matt Sorum, Jerry Cantrell, Lemmy Kilmister, Dave Mustaine and Slash’s wife Perla Hudson and more reveal the stories of how it all came to be.

“Slash Raised On The Sunset Strip” covers his childhood, his discovery of music and his arrival on the Sunset Strip.  The DVD will give viewers and fans intimate details of Slash’s time with Guns n’ Roses, Velvet Revolver and Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators. I suspect the DVD was completed before.

Slash – Interview on CBS News 2015

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