When I first heard that Guns N’ Roses was planning a reunion tour, I was cautiously optimistic.
I was excited to the depths of my soul at the thought I could get a chance to see the beloved and rebellious soundtrack of my youth played out on stage, but I was cautious at getting my hopes up given the tumultuous past of the band members.
It was named the “Not In This Lifetime” tour because in years past when lead vocalist Axl Rose was asked if he would ever consider a reunion tour with prior bandmates, his answer was “not in this lifetime.”
But I think the key word here is “past.”
I’m sure a ton of negotiation and market research took place before actual tickets went on sale and the tour was a go. But no matter how you slice it, it has to be uncomfortable to put yourself literally on stage for the whole world to either watch you fail miserably or succeed.
Can you imagine being backstage just before the first show?
What if it’s too late? What if you can’t match what you did before? What if you ruin your high note?
You hear it all the time. Axl gained weight, it won’t be the same. They’re all sober now, it won’t be the same. They don’t wear the same clothes now, it won’t be the same. Well, you’re right. It won’t be the same.
Axl is 54 years old now. Do you look the same way you did 20+ years ago? I sure don’t.
And in the face of scathing social media, it can’t be easy to get back up there and do it again knowing it won’t be exactly the same as it was over two decades ago.
We went ahead and paid good money to get tickets. I never got to see them in my youth, so this was my big chance.
I prayed they would stay together long enough for them to get to Nashville. Appetite for Destruction was the album of our lives in the 90’s and we were going regardless.
(And speaking of not being the same, I definitely do not regret my choice in sensible shoes.)
You also can’t beat the people-watching at a Guns N’ Roses concert. The top of this guy’s vest says “Nashville. More Conway. Less Kanye”:
Chris Stapleton was a classic-country and well-received opener. Soon came nightfall and it was on. They walked on stage to rousing applause.
And so much of it was the same. They played the classics fans came to see. Sweet Child O Mine. Welcome to the Jungle. You Could Be Mine. Civil War. November Rain. Paradise City. And many others.
And make no mistake, Axl can still hit those high notes. I was not disappointed and I sure didn’t see anyone else complaining. My hands were shaking so I couldn’t get him in focus… Yes, it meant that much. The music of that time meant so much to so many people there.
As I watched the close-ups on the big screen, there was something in Axl’s eyes that suggested he was thinking, man, I don’t know what the critics are going to say but dammit I’m here. And we’re doing this thing.
Vulnerability isn’t easy for anyone, least of all rock stars when they make a comeback.
So what did Guns N’ Roses teach me about life? Slash never ages.
But the rest of us do. And it’s no excuse. All creatives are rock stars on some scale. Whether you paint, draw, write or make cupcakes.
We get the luxury of a smaller, lesser known stage in most cases. So what’s stopping us?
Get your butt out there and do what you love. You just might sell out huge stadiums and have the time of your life. You will no doubt answer to a few critics, but you could also drink in enormous applause and a standing ovation.
If they had any doubts about how this might go in the beginning, they can definitely rest easy now. They’re killing it and adding more and more tour dates as they go. A brand new high note.
Steven Adler isn’t an official part of the tour, but he came on stage in Nashville for a few songs and the crowd went nuts. All of the original members were there but one, and I had the time of my life as I stood in a stadium full of die-hard fans singing every word.
They really went out with a bang after Paradise City.
So in a nutshell:
- It isn’t easy to put yourself on a platter, but it’s better to go out trying than going out scared.
- Maybe our high notes aren’t exactly what we picture.
- Parents are well within their rights to get out on the town for a nice long night of rock and roll.
- That fun girl deep down inside is still there, you just have to drag her out sometimes.
We got to see the 90’s soundtrack of our lives, and all was right with the world.
I also learned to never say never.
Or not in this lifetime… 🙂