OAKLAND — After nearly three and a half hours and 32 songs, Axl Rose, Slash, Duff McKagan and the Guns N’ Roses gang still had the same level on-stage energy for No. 33 as they did at the outset. The legendary ’80s and ’90s rock band shimmied around on stage during set closer “Paradise City,” delivering a level of intensity that could have easily been interpreted as a concert opener.
The rockers instead opted to open the Not in This Lifetime Tour at Oracle Arena with “It’s So Easy,” from 1987’s Appetite for Destruction, and following it up with a wide swath of material from throughout the band’s career and a few covers, all with Slash’s mesmerizing guitar solos, of course.
Apparently, fans didn’t get enough of the band during it’s stop at AT&T Park in San Francisco last year during its first tour in much more than a decade. Tuesday’s show was sold out.
To refresh your memory, the video for “Paradise City” had a young Axl Rose, clad in white pants with his reddish hair flowing in the breeze, belting about pretty girls while running around a stage.
That was then. As it was Tuesday. More than 20 years later, Rose’s vocals hold up for his unique, sometimes screeching, delivery style. While his hair is much shorter, he made good use of the stage in Oakland.
With smiles on their faces for much of the concert, the band members almost seamlessly ran through several songs from each of their five studio albums, including Chinese Democracy, which didn’t include Slash. They played “Yesterday” and “Civil War,” “Live and Let Die” and “Rocket Queen.”
After playing “Coma,” Rose introduced the entire band. Slash was introduced last, with a pregnant pause as Rose quipped, “See how I milked that? That was good.”
Following the introductions, Slash played a solo for the ages, his fingers working the strings while his lips seemed to mouth the tune in his head. It was effortless and familiar, like all the Slash solos you remember.
Rose dressed how many of us dressed in the ’90s—and would still dress every day if we had the guts to walk out in public: Ripped jeans, a wallet on a chain. He wore a variety of hats over a red bandanna, chunky rings on his fingers, and two sparkling crosses on chains around his neck. He hung a flannel shirt around his waist and, when someone from the audience threw him another, he hung that around his waist because, well, why the heck not?
As a lead singer who’s often considered reclusive and even mean back in the day, Rose was friendly, giving a shout out to the Oakland Raiders fans in the audience and swinging a bra that was thrown at him around his head.
After “Paradise City” concluded and the house lights came on, the band took a bow. After 30 years, Guns N’ Roses still know how to entertain a crowd.
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