(Chicago, IL) — Welcome to Soldier Field, we got fun and games. Judging by the fact that Soldier Field hosts the Chicago Bears — it is true that they have games, but to say that they are “fun” might be misleading after the Bears 6 -10 season. But on a July afternoon in the summer of 2016, the Bear’s stink has long been aired out from the field and replaced with anticipation from every hillbilly that ever donned a mullet or punched his girlfriend. Anticipation for the arrival of a band from a different time.
The year was 1991. A shift in music was happening: Seattle bands were the new thing. Nirvana’s Nevermind, Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger were gaining popularity while mainstream rock of the 80s was still around with Metallica’s self-titled album (Black Album) & Guns N’ Roses Use Your Illusion I & II. I actually had both Use Your Illusions on tape in second grade. Nothing guarantees a promising future for a kid like an 8 year old boy listening to a song titled “Back Off Bitch” on his bus ride home from elementary school. With lyrics like “Double talking jive, get the money mother fucker” and “I don’t like you, I just hate you. I’m gonna kick you ass” – Guns N’ Roses was a thinking man’s band.
I clearly remember walking over to a now defunct music retailer called ” Coconuts” in Mentor, OH while my mom was grocery shopping next door at a discount grocery store called “Marc’s” and buying Use Your Illusion II on cassette. Marc’s was a grocery store for people who are more concerned with how much money they’re going to spend vs the quality of what they are actually consuming. Shopping at Marc’s & listening to Guns N’ Roses pretty much goes hand in hand. I remember a big parental advisory sticker on it & thinking “they’re probably not gonna let me buy this.” Boy, was I wrong. As it turned out – I had thought too highly of the staff at “Coconuts” and they rang me right up. Ah, the 90s… when kids were not sheltered & were treated like adults even if it wasn’t in their best interest. They sold it to me like I was purchasing a candy bar. Which would have been worse for my health? I am not sure. This was the same year that smoking was outlawed at the local malls in the midwest so we were finally “changing with the times” so to speak.
Soldier Field’s parking lot was full of Camaros and Mustangs. Not new ones, but 1980s models that were actually made during the same era that Appetite For Destruction came out. As much as I am embarrassed to admit that I attended a Guns N’ Roses concert, I have to say – they were pretty good. I went with a coworker, but I lie and tell people that my coworker talked me into going to the show. Axl went for a subtle look that night, donning a giant, gaudy cross necklace, a bandana and a Freddy Krueger style hat on top of it. To this day if I ever encounter a man with a bandana whose playing a piano- I don’t ask any questions – I just immediately hand him my wallet & remind him not to stab me. The setlist was pretty predictable – all their big singles (they only had four full length LPs and an EP) and some covers thrown in. I didn’t care for The Who’s The Seeker, but some covers such as Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door were actual singles from their hey-day.
Axl then asked the crowd, “You know where you are?!” Anticipation grew in the stadium as they expected the band to launch into Welcome To The Jungle, but Rose asked a second time “I’m serious, do you know where we are?! I don’t know where I am right now…” Memory loss must be setting in for the longtime rock star, but he kept his energy level going while remaining quite athletic onstage.
Then came November Rain – the wedding song of all West Virginians. I’m sure you remember the video for this song as MTV played it incessantly in the early 90s. This video truly captures the essence of a healthy relationship: cigarettes, booze, and domestic violence ending with a dead spouse – a true West Virginian love story. I didn’t think they’d hillbilly this song up too much but I was proven wrong. As Slash hit the first note of his outro solo, something happened that made every hillbilly in the crowd go nuts – fireworks started sparking and going off. You could see the fireworks reflect in each stunned, wide-eyed hillbilly’s gaze like an unemployment check being opened right before their very eyes.
Slash seemed to keep his body in shape after all these years. His face however, reminds me of a meatball that got stepped-on, putting a divet where his second chin resides. All in all, you gotta hand it to the guy – he’s still alive and that’s quite impressive. The fireworks continued outside of Soldier Field after the show. I remember assuming this was due to it being the night before the 4th of July, but I think it had more to deal with the caliber of the concert goers and their corresponding IQs. It wasn’t actual professional fireworks being let off from the show – but random concert goers putting on their own fireworks displays. I think more hillbillies lost fingers the night of that concert than a blind Parking Valet on the opening night of a busy LA restaurant.
It’s hard to throw up the devil horns at a Guns N’ Roses concert when you just lost your index and pinky finger from holding onto a “Whistelin’ Bunghole” just a second too long. While Axl’s prime is far behind him and what is on the stage nowadays is the equivalent to the “Fat Elvis” era of Axl Rose – he honestly, did sound amazing. Whether he was using a pitch-shifter or backing track – I cannot tell. I may be cracking jokes, but this tour is pulling in millions while I’m re-glueing the soles of my shoes together (shout out to SHOE-GOO).
While our seats were too horrible to really post videos from, I took the liberty of going on YouTube and stealing some clips and posting them under Moron Reviews page. For your viewing pleasure…
Guns N’ Roses set list at Soldier Field:
- It’s So Easy
- Mr. Brownstone
- Chinese Democracy
- Welcome to the Jungle
- Double Talkin’ Jive
- Live and Let Die (Wings cover)
- Rocket Queen
- You Could Be Mine
- You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory/New Rose (Johnny Thunders cover/Damned cover)
- This I Love
- Civil War
- Speak Softly Love (theme from “The Godfather”)
- Sweet Child O’ Mine
- Out Ta Get Me
- Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd cover)
- Layla (Derek and the Dominoes cover)
- November Rain
- Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan cover)
- Don’t Cry
- The Seeker (The Who cover)
- Paradise City
I’ll close this review with a picture of Vince Neil & Nicholas cage just cause it’s funny.