Not in This Lifetime, aka, When Hell Freezes Over is the latest tour Guns N' Roses has put together. The last time they played in New Orleans was August of 1992 with Faith No More. This time around they were back at the Superdome with The Cult opening for them.
Being the opening band for such a large and highly influential band could have easily come off as a daunting task, but The Cult’s performance was a surprise to many including myself. The set was bookended with tracks from Electric, which left some of the most familiar tunes sandwiched between. Oddly enough, they only played one track off this year’s release Hidden City. Crowd reactions to “Fire Woman” and “She Sells Sanctuary” were loud and energetic, as one would expect. Voalist Astbury’s stage presence was massive; one could have easily gotten lost in all that real estate, but he held his own.
As the set change was happening, the energy in the air was starting to build. I really had reservations about this reunion tour as quite a few years have come and gone since the debut of Appetite for Destruction. Being a product of the 80s, it really is an album that stayed with me. I’d seen the set list for the tour and was very eager. Nearly thirty years have passed, and I was curious how Axl’s vocals have held up and how mobile he is now since his accident in Europe on the AC/DC tour. Needless to say, all my worries and fears were squashed almost instantly as the band ripped into “It’s So Easy.” While Axl’s vocals weren’t as crisp as those from the albums, he managed to bring out a whole new perspective. His tone was off the charts, and I can’t, for the life of me, fathom the range he still has.
The touring band consisted of the original members-- Axl, Slash, Duff, and, near the beginning, member Dizzy Reed. Filling out the band was drummer Frank Ferrer of the Psychedelic Furs and Love Spit Love fame, Richard Fortus on lead and rhythm guitar--who also played in the Psychedelic Furs and Love Spit Love, and keyboardist Melissa Reese. The band as a whole was spotless and made everything look easy. The features guitar solos from Slash were what any aspiring metal guitarist would want to strive for. Duff had a Prince symbol on his bass and was just as lively as Slash and Axl.
The set really was a clinic of sorts, dawning memories of 70s arena rock shows. The pyro was amazing and completely mind-blowing at the end of the encore during “Paradise City.” They played my favorite song second, so I was really able to absorb the rest of the set. It’s no secret that the band has had personality issues in the past, but those seemed to have melted away. The interactions on stage with each other were of the friendliest nature, albeit not very many. Slash, Duff, and Axl managed to run a marathon or two and made it look effortless. One of musical highlights of the evening came with “Welcome to the Jungle”, as Axel showed off his vocal range. The moments of octave greatness happened all through the set. When the Cool Hand Luke dialogue started, had I had any reservations about the show, they were quickly smashed. It’s been a while since the hair on my arms stood up due to a song, and “Civil War” was just that trigger.
For the most part, all the crowd favorites were played. They led off the encore off with “Don’t Cry” instead of “Patience". They’ve been altering between those two, so by logical conclusion, it should have been “Patience.” My friend is convinced that she willed it into being. The encore ended with one of G-N-R’s most famous tunes, “Paradise City.” The pyro during the song coupled with the onslaught of confetti was the icing on one amazing cake. As I walked away from the dome, I was on cloud nine and wondering how the heck was I going to write a review of the show, when all of the sudden I heard someone shout, “F’n awesome!” If that didn’t sum up the evening, nothing else could have come close.