“All we need is just a little patience…” – my Guns N’ Roses Experience

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It was the summer of 1991 and I was 10 years old, attending a 4-H camp between the 6th and 7th grade years. I was nervous as I didn’t know ANYONE and was younger than many of the other campers in the same grade level. Still, I went.

One of the older girls in our cabin had a tape player. She had a variety of music that she liked to play loudly, but one song caught my attention. The sound of it. The guitar playing. It was something I hadn’t heard before and I was hooked on it. They played it several times over the course of that camp and finally I asked her what it was.

“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Guns N’ Roses was what she told me.

I asked her if she had any more by them and she played “November Rain”. The length of it didn’t matter to me. Only the music.

And such was my introduction to Guns N’ Roses, a band that I’ve loved since that summer day when I was 10 years old.

I have since fallen in love with many other bands, particularly hair bands, with similar styles. But GNR has always held a special place in my heart. I loved the video for November Rain with all of its sadness and driving intensity. And of course, Slash on the guitar, playing those solos. The image of him playing outside in front of a church is one that’s stayed with me 25 years later. Not long after that, I recognized their music again in what was to become one of my favorite movies (and the inspiration for my third tattoo), Terminator 2. “You Could Be Mine” is linked to that movie for me and always will be.

As the years passed and I listened to the few albums that they put out over and over, I watched the band break up and go their own ways. There was always a sadness in my heart to hear Slash and Axl Rose say in interviews that they would never ever consider reuniting for a tour. I was only 10 when I first discovered them, around the same time that Steven Adler was fired from the band. I would never get the chance to see these legends perform together, bringing music that has been so special to me to life.

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I even did an Axl Rose costume for a Weird Al concert

Still, I loved them. I loved them even as Axl threw temper tantrums. I loved them even as they battled addictions. I loved them even though they seemed to hate each other.

When the movie “Rock of Ages” came out a few years ago, I loved it for many reason, including the fact that Tom Cruise’s character, Stacy Jaxx, was so very much as I imagined Axl might have been. I sing Guns N’ Roses songs at karaoke, primarily “Sweet Child of Mine” and “November Rain” (and yes, I will always sing it on any November karaoke night if it’s raining). I’ve even sung along on “Patience” which is one of my favorites.

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Then, at the end of 2015 there came the news of a GNR tour and the rumors that Slash might rejoin for it. I was hopeful but I didn’t want to latch onto the idea for fear that it would dissolve like spun sugar on the tongue.

But it was true. Not only was Slash coming back, but also their original bassist, Duff McKagan. Three of the original members would be on stage again!!

And then my friend Chris snagged tickets and the next thing I knew, I was going to see Guns N’ Roses here in Nashville.

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What can I say about the show? I was on my feet the whole time, cheering, screaming, singing along, and just staring at the stage in fascination as these people fulfilled a dream I’d had since I was 10. As a surprise bonus, they brought out Steven Adler to rejoin them on the drums for two songs. He looked so happy to be there, playing with his former bandmates and I just grinned in pure delight. At the time, he’d only made one other appearance with them, three nights before, for the same two songs. The first time he’s played with GNR since 1991. And I was there. Four of the original band members playing and I was there to see it. If I had any doubts about how the show would sound, how Axl would sing, how Slash would play, they were blown away immediately. As a fan, I would have been disappointed had they been anything less than fantastic, but two days later I’m still watching the videos and smiling.

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And oh…the first few notes of the Godfather love theme that sent chills down my spine. A rather intense guitar solo by Slash that I’ve heard on recordings….but nothing compares to hearing it live. As a girl who could listen to guitar solos all day long, it was beauty in musical notes. And it led right into “Sweet Child of Mine”. And how could I not mention instrumental guitar version of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”? Again…I was transfixed. The band as a whole had so much energy, playing nonstop for about three hours (I think?). Axl was all over that stage, dancing and rocking out. And both guitarists and Duff on bass were also constantly in motion, never letting that intensity drop. I’m not sure I could have done it as that was so much energy, but perhaps they fed a bit off the energy of the packed stadium. Because we were all on our feet, screaming in pure ecstasy.

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Toward the end of the show, November Rain segued into the song I was wondering if they’d play…. “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”. And in an instant I was 10 years old again, standing in a cabin on a summer day, listening to rock music that would imprint itself into my soul.

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Twenty-five years later, I feel like something in my rock n’ roll soul came full circle and was fulfilled in a way that was beyond what I could have ever imagined.

Rock on, Guns N’ Roses, rock on.

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~ by rumielf on July 11, 2016.

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