Last night in front of 50,000 rabid fans, Guns N' Roses brought their 'Not In Their Lifetime' tour to Auckland. The weather was picture perfect and except for a minor wristband hiccup, which only affected a handful of late comers, the proceedings ran far more smoothly than a few days earlier at the Wellington show.
Heading to my terraced seat with an unpalatable hot dog in hand, it was hard to hide the smile on my face. This was one concert that was years in the making. Sure, Guns N' Roses played here in the 00's, but that was pretty much Axl and his touring band. This was the first time that Axl, Slash, Dizzy and Duff had all graced the stage in Auckland since 1993. Sadly there was no Steve Adler or Matt Sorum behind the drums, but Frank Ferrer was well up for the task!
As soon as the dazzling sun disappeared behind the stage, we were blinded no longer and Guns N' Roses came out charging - straight into 'It's So Easy', and then quickly charged into one of my favourites 'Mr. Brownstone'.
The hits kept on coming, with 'Welcome To The Jungle' fired out early and Slash completely owning the stage. We were treated to 'Live And Let Die', 'You Could Be Mine' and 'Civil War'. Slash shone with a fantastic guitar solo, and there was even a chilling rendition of 'The Godfather' theme.
Surprisingly 'Sweet Child Of Mine' followed quick smart, one I guessed they would probably tease for the encore. The crowd was mad for it as we were transported back to a grand ol' party in 1987.
We then head in for classics 'Yesterdays' and 'My Michelle', and then treated to a phenomenal instrumental version of Pink Floyd's 'Wish You Were Here', and morphed into the instrumental outro of Eric Clapton's 'Layla', with Axl taking his place on the piano... and that could only mean one song was coming up next.
The power ballad 'November Rain' rang out over the Springs, with all 50,000 of us lapping it up. The highlight of the song of course being Slash's raging outro guitar solo. And as crowd went wild, the set was complete with 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door' and lastly, 'Night Train'.
A short break and the lads were back with the encore. 'Sorry', 'Don't Cry', The Who's 'The Seeker'... wow! And what better to end the night with? It had to be 'Paradise City', bringing back memories of Skateland and the old school Socials. As the chords rang out, fireworks began in earnest and the dry ice drifted out across the crowd, as we head banged the finale.
The Gunners came back out to acknowledge the crowd and took a much deserved bow to a standing ovation.
There were concerns from punters beforehand that perhaps the band would be past it, particularly Axl's vocals. But they all sounded, and looked, just the part. If anything, the feeling we were left with was that they were better than ever.
It's early into 2017, but could it be the concert of the year? It'll be bloody hard to beat.
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