In 1987 I was eight years old and Appetite for Destruction came out. My first introduction to the best rock album of all time (in my opinion), or at least the best in my lifetime was my brother arriving with the single (for my young readers that was like an iTunes song but played on vinyl, not ironically or to be cool because you think it “sounds better,” but because that was the option available) for Sweet Child O’ Mine. I mostly laughed because he kept trying to sing along, but did not know the words. Of course once I started seeing videos for Welcome to the Jungle, Sweet Child O’ Mine and Paradise City I became a huge fan. I managed to purchase Appetite for Destruction right under my Dad’s nose, who as a well meaning, but misguided and strict immigrant parent, often took PG movie ratings too seriously (“It says parental guidance – I am your parent.”) and missed the Parental Advisory sticker on AFD. Much to my surprise as I hit song #2 on AFD, curse words happened (“so fu*king easy” on It’s So Easy) and I was a little startled, but the music sounded so good I quickly got over that. By the time I was a 7th grader GnR had released 4 albums and were clearly destined for status somewhere near the Rolling Stones. And then Axl Rose went Axl Rose and it all disappeared. I was too young and broke for the use Your Illusion Tour in 1991-92 so basically my last chance to see the original GnR in concert was a quarter of a century ago. I discussed on my podcast before the rumors of the Not in this Lifetime Tour began that a GnR show was a bucket list for me. And then, as if I was Knockin on Heaven’s Door, my bucket list chance fell like November Rain (sorry)! I bought 2 tickets to Philly when I thought I couldn’t get tickets to their NY/NJ show – but then they added a second NY/NJ show – so I will be headed to that next week. But this Philadelphia show is the special one. Short story – I would give it an A+, To compare it to virginity (since it was my first GnR concert) it was like losing your virginity to your favorite porn star, while she tells you she had never had better and decides to quit the business because she wants to marry you and have kids with you, while putting her Harvard M.D. to good use to give medical care to poor children, but only when you are not home. In other words – great! Here are more specifics:
Travelling to Philly – The Daly Show
I took Amtrak down with my girlfriend and it pretty much resembled this scene from Step Brothers:
When I arrived in Philly I saw my buddy Jim from law school. I knew he was going from social media, but had not thought to ask “Hey will you be on the 12:54pm train from NYC?” with the show at 8:30pm. My gf and I went to our hotel – the Doubletree and as we walked in (not a joke) Sweet Child O’ Mine was playing. I then ate multiple Doubletree cookies and we headed to the nearby Cheesecake Factory to try and get diabetes so that the concert could become a literal bucket list event.
At about 7pm we hopped on the train to the concert venue and when we got off the train we ran into… Jim from law school. We walked to the venue where Jim parted ways to have some beverages with his buddies and I went to the gift shop to make my girlfriend buy me a t-shirt (#ComedyMogul handles train, hotel and tickets, but inside the arena it’s time to earn your keep).
As the show as about to begin (probably an hour between opening act and GnR, which was within the bounds of reason – the only thing more notoriously late than CP time is WAR (W. Axl Rose) time) I get a text from… Jim from law school, indicating he can see me – his tickets were basically directly behind me in a higher section of the stadium (obviously the financial difference between us two Georgetown Law grads is that my comedy earnings of $45.51 per week allow me the finer things in life). Other than sweating like Striker at the end of Airplane! it was pleasant enough waiting for the greatness to begin.
The show was great. How great? The band performed one song off of The Spaghetti Incident (McKagen’s cover of New Rose (sounded great) and four off of Chinese Democracy (none of which were my favorite two – Street of Dreams and Prostitute – FYI – hate on that album all you want, but it showcased that Axl was still a great song writer – and with the original band lending themselves to those 2008 songs they sounded damn good live) and the show was still an A+. I am pretty sure to get Axl to commit they had to let him do at least 4 songs off of Chinese Democracy (an ego thing – like these are the songs I did by myself but they count). It is an easy thing to agree to though. Axl is like Phil Jackson – he is demanding to run the triangle offense – but as long as he brings Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen (his voice and name recognition) to the table you are content to let him believe that everything he does is genius.
They opened with some deep voiced Axl songs (It’s So Easy and Mr. Brownstown), probably to warm Axl up because when he hit Welcome to the Jungle a few songs later, all doubts about his range and power were put to rest. When the band did Double Talkin’ Jive, a song I actually didn’t like, I was mesmerized by Slash’s 3 minute solo. And Axl takes too much heat for putting on weight. He is a little more burley, but who looks the same at 25 and 55? And Slash has old man A-cup man nips, but no one is ripping him?! Only Duff McKagen looks like a statuesque rock God (seriously – dude is in his fifties and is a tower of lean muscle – in his bio he talks about how he got into martial arts and running to get out of alcoholism – he then was an early investor in (I think) Starbucks and Amazon (he is a Seattle guy) so basically fu*k him! But Slash and Axl are holding down the Dad bods to make up for Duff’s stubborn commitment to healthy living.
The GnR set ran over two hours and delivered everything I could want except for the lack of Patience (and if they did Patience I would have screamed for the acoustic version of You’re Crazy). If I had to rank any one song as the highlight it was, surprisingly, Civil War. I always liked the song, but the live version was beyond incredible. The only time I frowned was when I would look at the girl next to me recording herself dancing. I understand taking pictures or even recording a little bit of video – but this girl was almost pretending to dance to capture a video of herself dancing at a concert. It was “peak millennial” (the caption was probably “Feeling so #Blessed that all I can do is dance to this amazing song by Whitesnake).
Back to the main event – Axl’s vocals are there. Slash’s guitar playing is mesmerizing. Despite the crowd looking like a white power rally (I counted by the end of the night – 11 Indian/Asian people, 6.5 black people (including me) and 400,900 white people, with approximately 1.7 million tattoos among them. It looked like a Comic Con for people whose favorite comic is Donald Trump: 2016. But the concert, which concluded beautifully with Paradise City, was everything I wanted and hoped for and more. For more photos (not that many, but some) – check out jlcomedy on Instagram. Now I have my GnR experience locked away forever, in case they suck in NJ and then break up forever.
For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes and/or STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free! And look for J-L’s new stand up album ISRAELI TORTOISE in August 2016.