By Jacob Rainkie
I walked through the gates at Investors Group Field a few minutes past Seven in the evening. There was no music playing yet and the opener, Our Lady Peace, was set to take the stage soon. I made my way to my seat right away, walking past hundreds of Guns N’ Roses T-shirts on the way. I sat in section 223, one of the farthest sections in the stadium, which I would soon find out would not matter at all.
At this point the majority of the seats in the stadium were empty. People were still arriving, walking around, meeting up with friends, and standing in line for beer. I stayed in my seat to watch Our Lady Peace take the stage, and they owned that stage. By being so high up in the stadium, I could see nearly all the seats, and I watched the fans start to pile into their sections as they heard Raine Maida sing the lyrics “Are you there, and is it comfortable?”, the opening line of their hit song “Naveed”. Their setlist included hits such as, ‘Superman’s Dead’, ‘4am’, ‘Innocent’, and ‘Starseed’.
I could feel it in the air when they played their newly released single ‘Drop Me in The Water’. Everyone was taken by the guitar, the drums and the lyrics. I looked around to see many people doing exactly what I was doing, writing down the song in their phone. Out of nowhere, everyone was drawn into the peaceful melody of the new tune. When Our Lady Peace exited the stage, they were sent off with well-deserved cheers and claps for their outstanding performance.
Now began the longest 30 minutes of everyone’s day, the seemingly endless wait for Axl, Slash, Duff and the rest of the world-famous Guns ‘N’ Roses to enter the stage. They were introduced with flare as “The band that needs no introduction but fucking get one anyway!”
The place went wild.
The crowd roared, and I could feel the vibrations through my feet as the ground shook with the excitement of the approximately 25,000 fans who were dying to hear the same Guns ‘N’ Roses they had heard so many times through their own blown-out stereo speakers. The legendary band started a song everyone would sing along to from their 1987 debut album Appetite for Destruction. This live version sang with a bit more excitement than the original recording.
They kept the crowd riled up with their most well recognized songs like ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, ‘Mr Brownstone’, and their famous cover of Paul McCartney’s ‘Live and Let Die’. There was no shortage of cheering after every song.
Mid way through the concert came a guitar solo by one of the greatest guitar players of all time, Saul Hudson, better known as Slash. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen or heard before. Instantly I felt as though I was taken away from planet earth. I was on a journey driven by a guitar played by a rock and roll God. We were only half way through the concert at this point and I had easily already gotten my money’s worth. After a couple more songs the stage went dark, the crowd fell quiet. Out came a piano yielded by Axl Rose. I knew right away after the first few notes that I was hearing ‘Wish You Were Here’ by Pink Floyd covered on the piano. No lyrics, just the piano, and it was phenomenal.
From there the entire stadium knew what was to come, ‘November Rain’. A song with such iconic lyrics that any GNR fan will sing along to without hesitation. It was as though everyone came together. Singing together whilst mesmerized by the incredible performance by Axl Rose on piano and microphone.
Although this seemed to be the high point of the concert at the time, it was the next song that created the most cheers and excitement. A wonderful tribute to the late Chris Cornell, a cover of Soundgarden’s ‘Black Hole Sun’. A standing ovation was given following the song and it was well deserved to say the least.
A few more songs were sung before the stage went dark again. The crowd cheered for the band and that’s when the lights came back on and out they came for an encore. They started with Patience, and ended with their most famous song of all time, the one everyone was waiting for… ‘Paradise City’. The crowd erupted, and for about 7 minutes the entire stadium sang along while the fireworks shot off into the air and the stage was lit up with flashing lights. Truly the perfect song to end an incredible performance at Investors Group Field by Guns ‘N-Effin-Roses.