GUNS N' ROSES - Not In Seattle's Lifetime - Review at Century Link Field - Seattle, WA - 8/12/16

w/Alice In Chains
The Pink Slips
Seattle, WA
August 12, 2016
Century Link Field

All Photo Credit:  Katarina Benzova

"Not In This Lifetime".  The name of the current Guns N' Roses stadium tour speaks to fans in different ways.  It could reflect on the ups and downs of the bands past, that seeing any incarnation of the "Appetite For Destruction" era of the band would never happen in this lifetime.  It could reflect on the fact that many fans never saw the band in there 80's or early 90's hey day.  It could also reflect on the fact that if you saw this show on Friday evening, you won't see another show as good as this one in this lifetime.

It's too easy to bring up the past when it comes to Guns N' Roses.  Many of the articles and reviews I've seen on this tour have done just that.  I prefer to go back to the past briefly only to set up the spectacle that occurred inside the Seattle Seahawks beloved home field, "The Clink" as we 'Hawk fans all know it by.

I was fortunate enough to purchase the "Live Like a Suicide" EP back in 1987 on both vinyl and cassette.  I was also fortunate enough to purchase "Appetite for Destruction" in the summer of 1987 - months before Guns N' Roses broke open into the music world.  And, yes, I was fortunate enough to see the band at The Paramount, opening for The Cult, in August of 1987, a few months before the "Welcome To The Jungle" video would premiere on MTV in October of the same year.  I still have the t-shirt from that show as a matter of fact.  So, I have an extended history with this band just like many, many fans all around the world.

So, when this tour was announced, I was stoked!  For some fans, it was the lifelong wish come true - something they hoped would happen but never knew would until now.  

It was in the upper 80's here in Seattle (warm or downright hot by Seattle standards) on Friday. While I was waiting to pick up my credentials, I heard many folks related to Duff McKagan come through the will call line picking up their passes.  Other media were also waiting - including two hipsters from a local paper that shall remain nameless (that published a rather ridiculous review of the show).  Occidental Avenue was filled with fans as well as vendors that you would normally see during a Mariners or 'Hawks game.  There was also one official merchandise truck on Occidental Avenue as well selling only Gn'R gear.

Once I received my passes, my associate and I headed in through the WaMu theater entrance (which is where fans with floor tickets were sent to enter).  There were basically no lines to get in which was great.  I think the fact that it was a Friday had something to do with it.  The Clink had an issue with an earlier concert where fans were stuck in line and ended up missing the opening act of a popular country line up.  They now opened the doors an hour before show time, which seemed to help.  Again, it was a Friday so people were still stuck at work and/or stuck in traffic - the earlier country show was on a Saturday in July.

When the first band, The Pink Slips, took the stage many of the fans were still making their way down to The Clink.  Fronted by Duff McKagan's daughter, GRAVE aka Grace McKagan, The Pink Slips played an energetic punk rock 30 minute set to get things started, complete with stage blood during the last song of the night.

After a brief changeover, Alice In Chains hit the stage to much applause from the hometown crowd.  Having just played a sold out headlining gig a few months prior, the Seattle fan base ate up the 60 minute set.  Jerry and Mike sporting Seahawk gear as they whipped through their set, The Clink was starting to fill up by the ending strains of the last tune in their set, "Rooster".  

Friday night at The Clink was a wide mix of memories and emotions for me.  I, like many fans, were wondering what would Guns N' Roses be like, some 30 plus years later with 3/5ths of the "Appetite for Destruction" lineup.  The past is the past in terms of the overly reported incidents in the 90's with the band.  This current beast known as Guns N' Roses is all business, folks.

Approximately 44,000 fans filled The Clink to lay witness to what we've always wanted to see - the Guns N' Roses that we all knew and, in some case, wished would of continued on over the years.

A massive stadium sized stage set up on the north end of The Clink (in front of the Hawks Nest) - complete with both side stage and middle stage screens, the band started basically on time: a little after 8:50pm PST.  After the animations on the screen, the familiar cue of the Looney Tunes theme and The Equalizer blared over the PA, the ever so familiar notes of Seattle's own Duff McKagan's bass rang out signaling that the first song of the night would be, "It's So Easy".

The place went orgasmically nuts!

With Frank Ferrer on drums, Richard Fortus on rhythm guitar, Seattle's own Melissa Reese on keyboards and backing vocals (sporting Beast Mode under eye stickers and Seahawks gear), Dizzy Reed on keyboards/piano/percussion, Duff McKagan on bass/vocals (sporting Seahawk gear as well), Slash on lead guitar, and (W.) Axl Rose on vocals; the electricity in the air was undeniable.  We were going to be in for one Hell of a memorable evening!

The set list covered each album generously (see the entire list at the end of this review).  From "Appetite for Destruction" to the "Use Your Illusions I and II" releases to "Chinese Democracy" and even one cover tune from The Misfits (who return with Glenn, Jerry, and Doyle in September for two reunion shows) that was on "The Spaghetti Incident", there was something for every Gn'R fan.  Yes, nothing from "Gn"R Lies" was played but they've been alternating "Don't Cry" with "Patience" so Seattle got "Don't Cry".  Phoenix on Monday night will most likely get "Patience".

As each tune was played, the band sounded like such a professional act, it made complete sense that in 2016, with some of the band in their 50's now, this is the Guns N' Roses we would get:  one of the all time great rock n roll bands playing a two and a half hour set of tunes - with care, precision, energy, and attitude.

Not 1988 we don't give a shit attitude.  Not 1992 we're the biggest band in the world attitude.  2016 - we came here to give you your money's worth kind of attitude.  If you're a fan of the band, you did not leave The Clink disappointed Friday night.  How could you?  25 songs, pyro, fireworks, state of the art video, some awesome compositional use of the video screens (such as when Slash would play certain solos, the camera folks would get him in the right light with the video screen behind him - you couldn't help but be impressed), the list goes on and on of why the show was so magical.

Axl seems like a different person nowadays.  His voice was sounding better than it has in the last 15 years.  He sported his flannel shirts around his waist like the old days.  The cowboy hat and other headwear were in full effect.  Some folks would knock the wardrobe - not me.  This is the Axl I remember - whether intentional or not - his Midwest roots turned rocker still come through.  

How many bands rock bands were wearing cowboy boots with their ripped jeans or leather pants back in 1986?  How many were wearing them after Gn'R blew up huge?  Yeah, that's right.  But I digress.

Slash was Slash.  I remember when he came on to the scene in the 80's right when all the other bands had guitar shredders.  Hearing his blues influenced playing stuck out like a sore thumb - a much-needed sore thumb - and you saw the effect on other guitarists that followed.  

Playing a variety of Les Pauls throughout the set, he also busted out the BC Rich "Bich" for a tune or two as well as a double neck Gibson.  His playing was inspired as always and if you didn't know how much Slash meant to the Gn'R sound, you now knew why the band hasn't been the same without him all these years.

Duff McKagan played the bass like a rhythm guitar (something he's been doing since the early days), singing lead on The Misfits, "Attitude" cover as well.  Being clean for many years now, it was great to see him in a great place - professionally and personally.

There's been talk about the absence of Izzy Stradlin and Steven Adler (who has made a few appearances on this tour for "Out Ta Get Me" and "My Michelle").  With all due respect to both guys, Frank on drums was just fucking rock solid.  With a band and tour of this size, man, you need an engine that is holding the fort down and Frank did just that.  

Let's not forget Richard - he played the rhythm parts with little effort.  His lead work showed that he has much more capability than his role is in the band.  In other words, he did what the songs required but could let loose if warranted.  The back and forth guitar work with Slash on Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" cover was where I really noticed Richard's work.  

Melissa handled the keyboard duties along with Dizzy.  Her background vocals were definitely noticeable as an enhancement to the overall sound, not as filler for Axl's vocals.  She was clearly having the time of her life playing The Clink in front of her hometown.  

The show was just incredible here in Seattle, WA.  I'm guessing every show on the tour has been similarly inspired.  With only 4 US dates left before Axl assists AC/DC on their US makeup dates, the band returns to Latin America this fall.  Australia looms ahead in early 2017 and I'm willing to bet that this tour hits Europe as well further into 2017.

The band came back together at the right time.  They're doing everything right.  This is the band and the legacy you, as a fan, always wished Gn'R would be.  

If you weren't there on Friday night with the rest of us, you fucking blew it.  That's all there is to it.  It was that good, folks.  

GnFnR is back!


A big, sincere, thank you to Kim E. for the credentials.  Also, thank you for putting up with my incessant emails leading up to the show.  I'll be much less bothersome for the next show I cover for you I promise - no, really, I promise!

Thank you to Clare for sorting out the guest list issue quickly and efficiently.  My initial worries of concern turned to wide grins of enthusiasm once things got figured out.  

Thank you to my associate DJ for covering the show with me.

Thank you to Guns N' Roses for putting on a show I'll never forget.

Set List:

It's So Easy
Mr. Brownstone
Chinese Democracy
Welcome To The Jungle
Double Talkin' Jive
Live and Let Die
Rocket Queen
You Could Be Mine
You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory/Attitude
This I Love
Civil War
Band Intros - Slash solo - Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather/Andy Williams)
Sweet Child O' Mine
Out Ta Get Me
Jam ("Wish You Were Here/Layla")
November Rain
Knockin' On Heaven's Door


Catcher In The Rye
Don't Cry
The Seeker
Paradise City


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