I went to Guns N’Roses in Slane, and it was the best gig I’ve ever been to
It was wet. It was soggy. But it was the best damn gig I've been to in my young life.
Saturday saw Guns N' Roses roll into the Slane on the first European leg of their aptly named Not In This Lifetime tour.
Questions hovered over the band. Could Axl Rose handle the physical demands of such a set (they played for almost three hours in Slane) and maintain his standard of performance? Would there be a repeat of some incidences of the past where the band emerged hours late? Fans wondered, would it be how they remembered? Would it be the same?
But, 80,000 fans trekked to Slane praying for something special. What they were gifted was a blazing trail of nostalgia by a band who played so well, you'd think the last 20 or so years never happened. No hiatus. No drama. Just
good great music.
Any lingering doubts were obliterated into the back crevices of fans' minds when the band launched into 'It's So Easy' and sent the listening crowd into delirium. How could we have doubted them at all? They were back.
Lead singer Axl Rose on stage alongside other founders guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan, whom Rose took great delight in declaring was a "mother***in' Irish man". McKagan is thought to have been instrumental in brokering the peace between the previously warring Rose and Slash.
Dizzy Reid was on keyboards, while Axl also introduced the crowd to Richard Fortus (guitar), Frank Ferrer on drums and new synthesiser Melissa Reese.
As the band faded into 'Mr Brownstone', the words began to reverberate around the field as the giant screens showcasing the band gave credence to their larger than life personas and reputations, especially Slash and Axl, who frequented centre stage the most often.
Old crowd favourites from the band's explosive first album, Appetite For Destruction, dominated the setlist with no less than eight tracks from the album being played to the boisterous crowd, mixed in with numbers from both Use Your Illusion albums.
Mercifully, the setlist was light with tracks from Chinese Democracy, with only a handful being played. But they were necessary as it would have been crude to ignore the path of the band in the years after Slash and Duff departed.
As the gig progressed and Axl took a break to assume a new jacket and hat, a move which seemed to reinvigorate him every time, Slash's solo on centre stage started.
You could almost see the crowd fighting to urge to play air guitar along with him, although a few of the more inebriated/free spirited happily played along with the veteran rocker, hitting every note on their invisible guitars.
Then came the kicker as Slash veered his way into 'Speak Softly Love', more commonly known as the soundtrack from The Godfather. The haunting tones rung up through the crowd before cutting off and erupting into 'Sweet Child O'Mine'. I'm not sure I've ever heard a roar as loud as this moment.
Video via RockinRose Donnell
Of course it wouldn't be a Guns N' Roses concert without 'Knockin' On Heaven's Door', when a crowd who'd have been forgiven for tailing off following an early adrenaline dump and a whirlwind of nostalgia, were grabbed by the scruff of their necks a brought to sing along.
There was no joking on stage between the band of note. But, despite it all, it did look like they were enjoying themselves on stage. Duff held the beaming smile of a man amongst his own people as he played to the crowd. Axl jumped and provided enormous energy as he battled back and forth across the stage leaving no part of the crowd feeling neglected. Slash delightedly pointed out someone wearing a funny t-shirt in the audience.
As the show came to an end, and unfortunately, it did have to end, what better way to close out what was a concert to treasure than with some 'Paradise City'?
Will this be the last time we see the band touring? The Not In This Lifetime tour would suggest so, but then again, up until recently, the mere thought of Slash and Co taking to the stage together again would have provoked laughs of derision.
But if this is the last time, I, among 80,000 others, will be able to say; I was there at Slane.