▣Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ ▣Saturday, July 23rd 2016
Guns N’ Roses brought their ‘Not In This Life Time Tour’ to New Jersey on Saturday July 23rd at the Metlife Stadium. The Gunners were set out play to another sold out crowd, this being the first night of two shows at MetLife. For the two sold out shows here in New Jersey, the guys from Guns N’ Roses were joined by old-time friend, Lenny Kravitz, as their opener. With Lenny as an opener and a sold out show, the tone was set for a remarkable night ahead.
Lenny was set to take the stage at 8:15pm, but the time came and the show had yet to begin. With no warnings of delay, people hung out and waited for the show, but soon a look of desperation was starting to set in. Only about half of the venue was filled, and from high in the stadium you could see the entrance was still a parking lot. It almost seemed like everyone decided to come at the same time, of course, fashionably late. Perhaps the band’s management decided to run the show late to allow everyone to arrive before beginning.
Mr. Kravitz finally made his entrance around 8:40pm. He would start the set to a half empty stadium, as this massive crowd was still trying to get refreshments and find their way to their seats. With a quick hello, he began his set with Bring It On. Immediately Lenny and his band went to work. From the beginning it was obvious he has great chemistry with his band. Although tonight’s crowd seemed to be there for the main act, Lenny’s larger than life persona wouldn’t be denied.
He continued his set with Where Are We Runnin’?, American Woman and Believe. In between songs he recognized some of the musicians joining him, called their name and would raise their hand showing his appreciation for their talents. For his next one, Lenny would enlighten the crowd with a story of how one day his high school buddy Slash called him up and said to him that he was coming New York City, and that he wanted to get in the studio to do some jamming. And from that reunion would come Always On The Run. Would we get to see Lenny and Slash jam together for this song? On of all days Slash’s birthday? The thought alone sent goosebumps up my arms. Slash’s part came but he was a no show…but, it would have been special.
At the end of the song he acknowledges Craig Ross who has been his partner and collaborator for many years. Ross is such a talent, and an amazing guitar player. The summer jam out fest continued, as each member displayed their skills. Whether a fan of Lenny Kravitz or not, when there are that many talented musicians together, you are guaranteed an amazing performance.
And then, Lenny got emotional, as he slowly began Let Love Rule. Which has been his anthem through his entire career and communicates his biggest message; love, peace and unity for the world. In these days and times, there was so much more meaning to his words, and the crowd really felt it. At the end of the song he asked the crowd to sing with him, “‘Sing it! We have to Let Love Rule! Don’t sing it for me, for us! Everybody, stand up for love! Stand up for each other! Stand up! Every, every, every life MATTERS!!!”. The crowd was a bit reluctant of Lenny’s message, and only about half would sing along. Could it be that they were coming here to have a good time, to get a little drunk, listen to some kick ass music and forget about what is going on with America for just a short few hours? But in the end, his efforts were appreciated.
The crowd really got behind the flamboyant rockstar during his last song of the night, Are You Gonna Go My Way. His performance brought up the energy of the crowd, and he rocked them before saying goodnight. It was an amazing performance by Lenny and was a great way to kick off the night at Metlife in front of a sold out crowd.
The stage was now set for the moment we all were waiting for…the return of the most dangerous band in the world. One of the most iconic rock groups of all time was set to take the stage here tonight and from the start it was a heroes welcome at Metlife. “There were still a few trails for the kind that would be cold before they’d be tame. They called them The Wild Bunch.” Or, better known as Gun’s N’ Roses.
The lights finally went down just around 10:10 pm, making this an early night for the band with a reputation for being late, a mistake that would cost them thousands of dollars early in their careers. They used to be both really late at starting and really late at finishing. Tonight they were only 25 minutes behind schedule, which was actually pretty good timing for them.
The Looney Tunes song started playing followed by some instrumental music that sounded like a war was about to start . When it finally stopped, the New Jersey crowd went insane as the guys took the stage and started their set with It’s So Easy. Axl danced around the stage sporting his one leather glove, plaid shirt around his waist, skull t-shirt and hat with bandana. He was explosive from the start. Slash was easy-going with jeans, a t-shirt that read “New York Fucking City!”, Gibson Gold Top strapped, sunglasses and his legendary top hat. Duff McKagan on bass stood tall, almost unreal like a fictional comic character, leather vest, black Lemmy t-shirt and his clean white bass sporting a Prince purple symbol and a naked girl sticker. They stood there as the epitome of rock n’roll.
They continued their set with Mr. Brownstone, Chinese Democracy before going into Welcome To The Jungle, sending the crowd into total pandemonium. “You know where that fuck you are?! You’re in the jungle baby, you’re gonna die!” Rose screamed as Slash rushed to the front of the stage, while loud cannons went off! The boys exploded onto the stage and the crowd was right there with them singing and cheering them on.
The louder that Axl sang, the better his voice sounded. And to all the non-believers out there questioning whether he still had the chops to pull this off or not, they couldn’t be more wrong. Rose was and still is an amazing performer. His dancing, running from side to side, jumping on speakers, throwing his mike stand across the stage; Axl’s talents and showmanship surpass most entertainers. He teased the crowd with his stares, his charisma lit up the place, and this crowd loved it.
Now, for any guitar aficionados or people who appreciate the instrument, watching Slash play the guitar is like watching Michael Jordan play basketball. The crowd moved with him as he mesmerized them with his talents and they cheered any time he did anything. He knows how to show off of his mastery, with legendary guitar riffs and poses. A star has never shined brighter than Slash did tonight.
Richard Fortus on rhythm guitar was to the left and was also nothing but sensational. He played with such passion, his facial expressions could easily give John Fruciante’s Frugasm a run for his money. The Gunners were also joined on tour by Frank Ferrer on drums, Dizzy Reed and Melissa Reese on keyboards. They all served the right kind of parts to make this a magical night at the old Meadowlands.
Guns N’ Roses would go on to sing other fan favorites like Live and Let Die, Rocket Queen, You Could Be Mine, Sweet Child O’ Mine, November Rain, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door. By the time they went onto Nightrain, the guys went all out. At the end of the song Axl raised his microphone stand above his head, brought the entire crowd on their feet cheering them on as they finished their set. The lights went out and the crowd went completely insane for more.
For their encore, the guys started with a slow jam before starting with Patience, The Seeker and finishing with Paradise City. At the end of the song, Axl threw his microphone into the audience. The crowd cheered and showed them their appreciation for an amazing performance.
Many would say that the entire production was perfect. From stage lights, to fireworks and the music arrangement, it had been an incredible night tonight, one with a lot of memorable moments. Like on Patience, Axl’s whistling cut through the crowd, it was enchanting and in that moment we all wished we could whistle that well. Or, during the bands introductions by Rose, he asked the audience to wish Slash a happy birthday, leading the longest solo of the night ending with the love theme from Godfather. Duff’s rendition of Attitude by the Misfists, rumbling the Stadium with his bass. There were so many amazing moments.
In the end Guns N’ Roses played enough hits and Axl had enough wardrobe changes to satisfy their fans. Three generations were here witnessing this event, most of us for our first time. And I know we all hoped it wouldn’t be our last.
By Carlos Londono
Cover photo: Katarina Benzova (provided by management)
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Toshie Sasaki – Instagram page Tako217
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Make sure to check out her page for more pictures from the Guns N’ Roses – Not In This Life Time Tour by her and her husband Tsusaka Sasaki!