There are some things in life that your dont expect to happen. Like getting a great job and boss and pay – all at once. Like listening to music, watching their videos, seeing stage antics for years and years and years. And then imagining the frenzy of it all in Los Angeles or in New York. Then knowing that that band had broken up. And then a new lineup was formed. A new album launched. That they in fact went to China, but did not come closer home. That deciding that music videos would be the only source for their music for me.
And then. One day you hear they will be in your country. In your city. On a day when you too, will be in the city. I did not expect Guns N Roses to ever perform for me, in India. I heard them in college, in school, at work. I saw them on TV, read about them in news. Heard about t heir breakup. But the possibility that I might see them in all their splendour, in life, in person – that was not imagined. Its what happens to ‘other people’ those that stay in the US and Europe, who get to see them perform live.
But, they did it for us, for me. I paid the fee, I prepared the evening. I spent 4pm to 11pm on the grounds watching. Three hours of uninterrupted Axl Rose and his crew. For it is his crew now. Slash is long gone. He too is coming in Feb. But I dont think I will want to go and watch Slash. It is to listen to Patience, Estranged, Welcome to the Jungle…that I would prefer.
And oh! what an evening it was yesterday. The best sight was the variety of ages trooping in. Teenagers to middle aged men and women. Top hatted to salwar kameez wearing. There was no norm. No discrimination. It was Rock music. And they were there to listen to one of Rock Music‘s most iconic.
The show was everything promised. And more.
Axl sang – and he sang so well that I at one time (shame on me!) thought he was lip syncing. Not a note away from the original recordings. Yes he has aged. Yes, he is not a lithe young man anymore. But the attitude is there. As is the snake dance. The running on the stage and the enjoyment. The ability to enjoy your own music, as you sing it for the Nth time for a crowd…that cannot be faked. The wide grins as they loved what they were doing made up for the years when they werent here.
32 songs. 32 musicals, including a rendition of November Rain on a special shiny Baldwin by Axl himself. Interrupted by him to take a swig of water and aspirin – he apologised ‘to perform better for you’ – and resume with a practiced smooth flourish and full energy the last unmistakable notes of November Rain. Oh, nothing could compare.
And when the crowd sang along to Sweet Child O Mine so loudly that you couldnt even hear Axl… you knew we had waited long for this day.
Watching Axl run up and down the stage, full of energy, singing high notes and low whispers – I still wonder if any younger band of today could do it. Could build up that energy in a crowd of 30,000 for 3 continuous hours. Axl and team spiced up every song with a tempo change, a clothes change and a style change.
Of course, the stage was well set. The sound quality good, and the video and lighting was very well done indeed!
The new lineup is well, new. But not for more than a moment did I miss Slash. Yes, he was the initiator, but there is talent a plenty today. DJ Ashby and Roger were spectacular. Ron was in a league of his own. And since I have a soft spot for Spanish Guitar…the intro before they started on Patience – was priceless!
I am delighted I went. It may have been a tick off my bucket list. But its an unparalleled experience, recommended to anyone who loves a good concert, and of course, GnR.
- Guns N Roses (thehindu.com)
- Fans set to knock on heaven’s door tomorrow (thehindu.com)