Not in this lifetime. A fitting title for the tour of a band we thought we’d never see again. It’s been 23 years since GNR last performed together. 23 years since Slash and Axl Rose shared the stage. Sure, there was “Chinese Democracy”, but we all know that wasn’t really GNR, that was an imitation. But last night, that was the real deal.
Every stop of the tour, GNR has featured a different opening act: one night it’s Alice in Chains, the next it’s Skrillex. So in Nashville it was only fitting that they asked country music revivalist, Chris Stapleton, to start things off.
Stapleton, who has already played Titans Stadium once this month, was joined on stage by his wife, Morgane, as well as Memphian, Robby Turner, who played the steel guitar. Turner received a huge ovation from the crowd when announced, proving that the Nashville-Memphis “rivalry” may be a little overstated.
The smell of hot chicken filled the crowded stadium as Stapleton’s, “Tennessee Whiskey,” echoed off the bleachers, setting up the night perfectly. Stapleton finished his set at 8:30 and GNR was not set to take the stage until 9:30, giving ample time for fans to stop by the concession stand or merchandise table. So, I made my way to check out the shirts.
Concert shirts are always more expensive, obviously, but the GNR shirts were on another level. The lowest price for a shirt was $50. Now let me say this, a GNR tour shirt is worth $50, but I’m balling on a budget currently, so I was merely a spectator. But, while in line, I was able to meet a couple from Seymour, Indiana who new John Mellencamp’s parents, which was worth more than some $75 leather baseball cap. (yes, that was really being sold.)
So 9:30 came and two revolvers on the big screen starting firing rounds as the Looney Tunes theme song started to play. GNR took the stage one at a time, starting with Duff McKagan and ending with Axl Rose, and there it was: Guns N’ Roses back together. This was something that I thought would never happen, GNR was only something that I could watch videos of and never have an actual opportunity to see them live. But here they were, playing “Mr. Brownstone” right before my eyes.
It was just like old times. Slash was playing his signature Les Paul and Axl was tossing the mic stand around like a dog with his chew toy, the band was back together. Axl was out of his foot cast and sprinted across the stage like it was 1993 again.
GNR played all of their hits, and even some songs from “Chinese Democracy,” but they also threw in some cover songs like, “Live and Let Die,” by Wings and, “Attitude,” by Misfits. Perhaps the highlight of the night was when Slash took the spotlight, ripping a solo performance of the theme from the movie, “The Godfather,” then leading into the beginning notes of “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” Or maybe it was when original drummer Steven Adler joined the band for two songs, then threw his drumsticks into the crowd after performing “My Michelle.” Adler, who’s drug addiction caused him to leave the band, was grinning from ear to ear, appreciating the essence of the moment probably more than anybody.
With an encore that included hit, “Paradise City,” and a finale of confetti and fireworks, the night was officially capped. An incredible experience that was thought to never exist, I’m glad I was able to witness it. I’m glad I brought my Appetite for Destruction.