Saturday, July 2, 2016

Guns 'N Roses and Alice in Chains in Kansas City: 6/29/16

No, Guns 'N Roses does not really belong on this blog.  They are not a metal band after all, but they were heavily influential in helping to lead me to metal.  My older brother was a big fan of the band and had their first four albums.  In those days, the band was everywhere.  "Welcome to the Jungle", "Paradise City", and "Sweet Child O' Mine" were already massive hits and the band was striking it big with the hits from the two Use Your Illusion albums.  I have always enjoyed their music, though never quite enough to pick up any of the albums.

It was not my idea to go to this concert.  My wife has been slowly converting into a hard rock fan and has developed a particular fondness for attending concerts.  We have been to a number of concerts over the last year or so, many of which she wanted to attend.  I was okay with the idea of going since it was mostly a reunion for the band.  Slash, Dizzy Reed, and Duff McKagan re-joined the band with Axl Rose.  Richard Fortus had been with the band since 2002 and Frank Ferrer since 2006.  They also featured a second keyboard player Melissa Reese.  So, much of the band from the height of their popularity was back.  So that was enough to make me at least somewhat interested, though it was still my wife's idea to go to it.  Now, when it was announced that Alice in Chains would open for them, I was fully on board.

Well it turned out that we missed most of the Alice in Chains set.  Getting to Arrowhead Stadium in the first place proved to be a debacle.  Traffic was terrible and they were doing some inexplicable things with the entrances to the parking lot.  After that, we had to walk all the way around the stadium to get to the right gate, then wait in line for 20 minutes to get in.  Finally, we were on our way to our seats on the third level, only to find that we were bumped up to the third row of the floor seating area, right behind a kid that looked like a teen-aged Axl Rose, complete with long stringy hair and red bandanna.  Which was great, but meant we had to turn back around and head all the way down.  It just goes to show you should never pay full-price for the best seats.  This is the second time we have been moved up considerably.  By the time we finally got to our seats, Alice in Chains was playing "Rooster".  And then, they were done.  We heard bits and pieces of them playing "Down in a Hole" and "Would?", but that was it.  It was horribly disappointing.

A short time later, G'nR took the stage to "It's So Easy", which struck me as odd.  They have the perfect opening song in their arsenal in "Welcome to the Jungle".  Fuck, it even has "Welcome" in the title.  Why is that not the opener?  I was not sure what to expect from the band honestly.  I remember Axl showing up on some awards show several years back with Buckethead as his guitarist and being utterly unimpressed.  I was pleasantly surprised at how good the band actually sounded.  Axl's voice was obviously not as powerful as it had been when he was younger, but he did sound reasonably close.  He and Slash are a little pudgy these days and look kind of ridiculous wearing the same clothing they wore when they were in their 20's, but at least their sound is reasonably close.

Guns 'N Roses played most of their biggest hits and a lot of other fan favorites as well.  They also played at least one or two songs from the maligned Chinese Democracy album, which I could have done without personally.  In looking at their catalog later, the only song that sticks out in my mind that they did not play was "Patience", which is a little too soft and slow anyway.  After playing for two hours, they seemingly closed out the show with "Night Train" only to come back and play "Don't Cry" and close things out with "Paradise City".  It was a bit of a long concert, but it was a surprisingly good show from a rejuvenated band.

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