By Justin Trudell
A woman and her husb-friend (Husband? Boyfriend? Who cares?) took cuts in front of me in the beer line. Since I oscillate between being mentally unhinged and Buddhist monk-like acceptance of fate, the only two ways I react in these situations are either: A) Enraged to the point of having blurred vision and grinding my teeth until they turn into a fine powder I can snort, causing me to verbally explode on them; Or B) “Nah, I don’t care. There must be a good reason these fine people took cuts.” Much to my surprise, I embodied both reactions. I became livid and screamed “Get to the back of the line,” but then I looked into her cloudy, bloodshot eyes with sympathy and realized, “Holy smokes! You need booze!”
The inebriated couple were a perfect representation of the Guns N Roses show: appetite for destruction…of your internal organs.
Guns N Roses were arguably the most badass rock stars that made it YUGE. They lived for the moment, played the biggest venues, rocked the entire planet, and, shockingly, lived to tell stories about it. The larger than life rock-star persona has rubbed off a bit on their fans, with good reason. How can you not admire and be somewhat envious of these Gods of rock?
The problem is Joe six-pack (of Old Milwaukee) doesn’t have 30 years of nightly rock star partying to have built up a tolerance. Consequently, Detroit concert goers displayed a lackluster inability to maintain top-tier energy levels, having noticeably downgraded since their partying heydays. In their early 20s they could pull this off, but not anymore. Multiple groups of friends were shouldering particularly wasted compadres, transforming Ford Field from an entertainment venue to a WW II front line trench– “I’m not leaving you behind!” There were at least a dozen brushes with death, as intoxicated avengers nearly stumbled on the stairs and would have fallen down 40 concrete steps to their demise. It was a scene, man.
I was beyond impressed with the sound of Guns N Roses. Axl’s voice was incredible; for a moment I thought it was improving with each song. When singers age, you expect their vocal abilities to wane somewhat, but “daaaaamn Axl,” you are still killing it. Slash was mind-blowing, as usual jumping from guitar chord to double guitar chord like a group of Double Dutch Divas. He ripped into series of guitar solos that served to remind everyone why these fuckers sell out stadiums 29 and some odd years later.
Guns N Roses played their entire catalog of hits, even throwing in an unexpectedly brilliant instrumental cover of “Wish You Were Here”. The best song of the night, for me, was “Civil War”. Axl strained his vocals convincingly and Duff and Slash were definitely on par with Axl’s legendary showmanship. They have done, and still do, what most people could only dream of, and that’s why they party like no one else ever could.
In the jungle called the music industry, where, to quote Chris Rock: “you’re here today, and gone today,” Guns N’ Roses have managed to stay alive despite hostile conditions. How could they have not? After all, they are apex-predators, and we innately respect them, even though we may never again see them thrive in their natural habitat. One can only hope this isn’t the end.