Count me as an 80’s metal fan that wasn’t overly excited about a Guns N’ Roses reunion tour when it was announced on April 1st of this year (it could have been a joke anyway, right?). Sure, we heard Axl and Slash were talking and supposedly had buried the hatchet, but I had images of a fat Axl and a reluctant Slash getting along just long enough for a major money haul.
The latter may still be true and if it wasn’t for my 17 year old son really wanting to see his new favorite band, I am not sure I would have gone. But after seeing the mostly original GnR lineup (Axl, Slash, Duff) perform in Seattle on Friday, August 12, 2016, I can say I came away impressed with the peformance and I am glad I went.
As expected, there was wait at the t-shirt line, but it went fairly fast compared to other shows we have attended this year. While waiting, we could hear ‘The Pink Slips’, an up and coming synth-pop/punk band, fronted by 18 year old GRAVE (aka, Grace McKagan; daughter of Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan) playing their opening set. As we made it to our seats, they were followed by one of my personal favorite non-80’s metal bands, Seattle’s own, Alice In Chains, who played a fantastic set, but started so early (7:20pm), most fans had not arrived yet, and as a result, their performance lacked some of the energy you would expect from an AIC show.
The stage was turned for the headliners and anticipation started to set in for real on a warm evening in the Emerald City (about 83 degrees at showtime) when the giant video display began showing various GnR logos as twilight set in.
The reunited Guns N’ Roses looked and sounded great… Axl was fit, Slash is one helluva guitar player and Duff pandered to the Seattle crowd by wearing a Seahawks shirt. They opened with ‘It’s So Easy’ and ‘Mr. Brownstone’, before performing ‘Chinese Democracy’ and then whipping the crowd into a frenzy with ‘Welcome to the Jungle’.
It was a great energetic opening and then the setlist got a little erratic with ‘Double Talkin’ Jive’, ‘Estranged’, ‘Live and Let Die’, and ‘Rocket Queen’. All great songs, but so slow after those first four. Okay I’m being a little picky 🙂 ‘You Could Be Mine’ got the crowd going again, followed by a cover of the Misfits ‘Attitude’. Then came ‘This I Love’, ‘Civil War (with “Voodoo Child” outro)’, Coma, and a long but killer guitar solo from Slash playing the ‘Love Theme from the Godfather’ before launching into ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’.
The Guns N’ Roses catalog is loaded with some of my favorites of all time, but I was also reminded how many ballads they released. They performed ‘November Rain’ that included a piano intro and exit of Eric Clapton’s ‘Layla’ back to back with ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’.
They finished the main set with ‘Nightrain’, before returning for encores that included ‘Don’t Cry’ and ‘Paradise City’, complete with great fireworks show that could only be done at an outdoors arena.
The Guns N’ Roses North American ‘Not In This Lifetime’ tour ends August 22nd in San Diego, California after two nights at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. METAL SHOP’s Ralph Cartel attended the 8/18 show, where he noted “the last time I saw the original Guns N’ Roses was back in 1988 when they opened up for the Rolling Stones at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. I vaguely remember Axl Rose talking shit… saying that if some members of the band didn’t stop dancing with Mr. Brownstone, that the band would break up.”
Axl, Slash and Duff last played together with the original band on the ‘Use Your Illusion tour’ that ended in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on July 17, 1993. There was no public affection between the three of them at the Seattle show, in fact, there was not much banter at all. Axl is still aloof, but his voice is in fine shape and seeing these great musicians together one more time made for a great memory.
80’s Metal Perfect Pairing: Armored Saint Metal Church
Since December I have seen Motley Crue, AC/DC and Iron Maiden live. Arena Rock is great, but these bands all started in some club somewhere. And there is just something about a small club that takes you back to the early hungry days as bands work to make a name for themselves.
Saturday night’s Armored Saint Metal Church concert at the Hawthorne Theatre (capacity -620) in Portland, Oregon on Saturday, June 11, 2016, had that feel and it was awesome. Putting these bands together for a tour was a great idea, but too short as this was the final show.
A friend of mine who attended said “Armored Saint was crazy good!!! The energy there was just something you don’t see at many shows! There was some urgency to it! Still buzzing from it, rhythm section was amazing!”
This co-headline tour featured each band switching off each night and on this stop, Armored Saint took the stage first. The last time they played here was 2001 at the Roseland Theatre. At the time though, that venue had a different name and lead singer John Bush asked the crowd what is was called? (Starry Night).
I loved the localized banter from Bush between songs. We know most singers just repeat the same lines each night, but Bush was specific to Portland on most things he talked about, including playing here with Metallica in the early 80’s and the time he threw out his armour costume into the crowd… “somebody here tonight still have that?” he asked. Speaking of which, there aren’t too many photos out there of the 1984 tour, but I found one here courtesy of the Kevin Estrada Blog.
Armored Saint opened with the great new song ‘Win Hands Down’ and their setlist included all the classics we know and love… ‘March of the Saint’, ‘Long Before I Die’, ‘Reign of Fire’ and ‘Can U Deliver’.
My friend continued, “Armored Saint should’ve headlined and their set wasn’t long enough! John Bush was the star this night! That voice is just flawless! My fav moment was when Bush nailed that scream in the middle of “Can U Deliver”!
Yes, I felt that… I’m still buzzing too. And how about Bush jumping into the crowd to surf? The dude is 52… that was killer! A guy next to me was at the Seattle show the night before and I thought “you drove down here to see it again?” I get it though. Hope they come back soon.
Around 11:30, Metal Church hit the stage, opening with ‘Fake Healer.’ The crowd was just as fired up for this one and with Mike Howe back on vocals, the night just felt special, like how lucky are we to see this great concert.
The mosh pit was non-stop during both shows. My 17 year-old son and I were separated from the pit by only one row of humans, who did a good job pushing the moshers back in, but we got bumped a few times. When Metal Church launched into ‘Start the Fire’, I felt like I might want to join the pit, but I came to my senses and perished the thought.
There were quite a few tracks from the new album in their 13 song set, including ‘No Tomorrow’. Most of the setlist featured songs from the Church albums Howe sung on from 1988 to 1994, including ‘In Mourning’, ‘Date with Poverty’ and ‘Badlands’.
Only one song was played from their 1984 debut album and it was ‘Beyond the Black’. Howe joked with guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof that this song was written the day he was born.
This West Coast USA tour lasted all of seven dates. I’m not sure if it was a test run or something, but it was one of the best 80’s metal concerts I have attended. The small club feel and sound combined with musicians who have been playing together for 30+ years in some cases, made for an enthralling performance from both of these great bands.