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Recap: Guns N' Roses Bring 'Not In This Lifetime' Tour to Dodger Stadium with Marathon Gig

Photo: Katarina Benzova

Photo: Katarina Benzova

Flash back roughly 10 years. Axl Rose was still putting the finishing touches on Chinese Democracy, his infamous in-the-works Guns N’ Roses album that finally saw the light of day in 2008. Around that time, the thought of  Rose and guitarist Slash reconvening again seemed absolutely out of the question.
Well, it wasn’t, as GnR’s boisterous Not In This Lifetime tour (an outing named after Rose’s own promise a few years back that they’d never share the stage together again) crashed into Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on August 18 for the first of a two-night, hometown run. An impressively large number of fans were either sporting their GnR outfits or, even, Slash and Axl costumes at the show, if you were curious how fervent fan interest was for this gig.
Photo: Katarina Benzova

Photo: Katarina Benzova

Opening the night (bright and early at 6:30 local time!) were the Cult, who powered through a 10-song set of hits (Rain, Sweet Soul Sister, Fire Woman, She Sells Sanctuary and Love Removal Machine) as the crowd trickled into the stadium. Ian Astbury, who took a few time-outs to chat during their 45-minute set, at one point quipped that “everybody thought this would be Green Day“, alluding to the rumors that swirled about who would be opening the Los Angeles shows a week or so ago.

Considering their pedigree and status as hard rock legends, it goes without saying that the Cult were a fantastic addition to the night’s festivities.
Let’s get one thing out in the open right now: The wait for this tour was worth it. Starting shortly after 8 o’clock (no lengthy delays anymore, as Axl is a punctual guy these days) GnR – Axl, Slash, bassist Duff McKagan, guitarist Richard Fortus, drummer Frank Ferrer, keyboardists Dizzy Reed and Melissa Reese – led their throngs of fans through classic FM radio hit after classic FM radio hit for nearly three hours.

Photo:  Katarina Benzova

Photo: Katarina Benzova

One of the night’s most intriguing aspects, though, was hearing and seeing Slash wail on the guitar on Chinese Democracy songs he had no part in conceiving — after all, the entirety of that album and its grandiose songs were composed by Rose and a host of musicians brought on for the project that have long since departed (though Fortus, who joined the band in 2001, and Ferrer, are holdovers). The album was represented at the show by the title track, Better, Catcher in the Rye and This I Love.

As for the hits…there were plenty. As you’d expect, the sold-out baseball stadium lit up with glowing camera phones for Welcome to the Jungle, Sweet Child O’ Mine, November RainCivil War and a fireworks finale during Paradise City, but it was during the other fan favorites — among them Mr. Brownstone, Out Ta Get Me, Nightrain, You Could Be Mine, Yesterdays, EstrangedComaDouble Talkin’ Jive, set opener It’s So Easy and others that one could really tell that this wasn’t just any “reunion” tour.

Rose, spry and energetic, sprinted around the stage and huge, stairwelled backdrop with an enthusiasm and spirit that made it evident how much fun he was having out there. You’d hardly know he broke his leg prior to the tour launch, given how active he was on the stage. And his voice, while admittedly not as pristine as it was in the late 1980s, has held up very well over the years.

Photo: Katarina Benzova

Photo: Katarina Benzova

Slash, meanwhile, brought with him the attitude, style and demeanor everyone has come to expect from him over the years, effortlessly shredding his guitar on song after song as only he could. A guitar battle with Fortus during a cover of Pink Floyd‘s Wish You Were Here was an especially enjoyable moment, too, as was the McKagan-led Misfits cover Attitude.

Fans waiting forever for a Guns N’ Roses reunion have to be pleased with the effort the band’s putting out on this tour. Sure, Izzy Stradlin, Steven Adler, Gilby Clarke and/or Matt Sorum aren’t part of the current lineup (though Adler did show up in Cincinnati), but the trio of Rose, Slash, McKagan, not to mention Reed and the very capable Fortus is a tremendously strong core that definitely does justice to the band’s legacy. Plus, Ferrer does a great job behind the kit, too.

Who knows what the future holds for Guns N’ Roses after this tour, but on Thursday night everything was juuuuuust fine in GnR land.

Photo: Katarina Benzova

Photo: Katarina Benzova

The full set list:
It’s So Easy
Mr. Brownstone
Chinese Democracy
Welcome to the Jungle
Double Talkin’ Jive
Live and Let Die (Wings cover)
Rocket Queen
You Could Be Mine
Attitude (Misfits cover) 
This I Love
Civil War (with “Voodoo Child” outro)
Love Theme from the Godfather (Nino Rota cover) (Slash solo)
Sweet Child O’ Mine
Out Ta Get Me
Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd cover)
November Rain
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan cover)
Catcher in the Rye
The Seeker (The Who cover)
Paradise City


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