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Concert Reviews:
Guns N' Roses turns Ford Field into its own jungle
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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DETROIT -- "Do you know where you are?!" Axl Rose bellowed, as he customarily does, at the beginning of "Welcome To the Jungle" on Thursday night, June 23, at Ford Field.

The answer was evident to the 41,000 who packed the stadium -- at a Guns N' Roses show, the way it's supposed to be.

The kickoff show of the venerable hard rock group's Not In This Lifetime Tour found Rose again playing with GNR co-founders Slash and Duff McKagan for the first time in more than two decades. The seven-member troupe played seven shows back in April, and Thursday's tour opener found GNR tuned and tight, with Rose primed after a recent European run fronting AC/DC and the other band members sounding like they'd spent the past two months pent up and ready to rock again.

And they exploded with a two-hour-and-35-minute show that started "early" by GNR standards, just before 9:45 p.m., and was as explosive as the pyrotechnics that accented several of the 25 songs the group played.

Following a taut 40-minute, favorites-filled opening set by Alice In Chains, GNR was introduced by its logo on the video screen, with the pistols firing shots as the band members prepared to enter. Following taped intro music (the "Looney Tunes" cartoon theme and "The Equalizer") GNR charged into a breathless blitz of "It's So Easy," "Mr. Brownstone," "Chinese Democracy" and "Welcome To the Jungle," with Slash and fellow guitarist Richard Fortus propelling the arrangements and Rose, freed from the "throne" he sat in during the April shows due to a broken leg, prowling the stage with his trademark shuffles and gallops. But the real testament of GNR's 2016 potency came during back-to-back epics, the thrashy "Double Talkin' Jive" and the pompy "Estranged," which let the group -- and particularly a madly soloing Slash -- stretch out with the ferocious intensity that was GNR's stock in trade when the group ruled the rock world during the late 80s and early 90s.

From there GNR landed one musical punch after another. The show was perhaps long to a fault -- at least a couple of songs could have been sidelined without much harm -- but the likes of "Rocket Queen," "Coma," "Civil War," "Out Ta Get Me," "November Rain" (preceded by an instrumental jam on Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here") and "Sweet Child O' Mine" were all memorable standouts. McKagan also gave Detroit's rock heritage a nod by singing a cover of Iggy & the Stooges' "Raw Power," while both he and drummer Frank Ferrer wore Detroit T-shirts onstage.

And Rose -- burly, blinged out and sporting six different T-shirts, a leather jacket, five hats and a couple of bandanas during the night -- was a visibly happy camper, energized and animated and in fine voice, right up to his long wails during GNR's cover of Wings' "Live and Let Die" He offered a few random comments -- "Everything is friend around here," he said of the city's culinary scene. "The first thing I'd do for Detroit is put a tariff on vegetable oil." -- but mostly, and wisely, Rose let GNR's music do the talking.

One of the show's nicest moments, meanwhile, came when the singer leaned on Slash's shoulder during Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door." It was a sign that animosities were buried and bygones were bygones, and that GNR -- which finished with an encore of "Don't Cry," a rendition of the Who single "The Seeker" and a fireworks-laden "Paradise City" -- is in top form as it enters a potential new lifetime.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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