Guns N’ Roses are coming to North Carolina next year, but seeing the show will involve a road trip from the Triangle. The date is Aug. 11 over in Winston-Salem, at Wake Forest University’s 31,500-seat BB&T Field; with on-field seating, capacity for the show will be 36,000.
This will be the closest that GNR has come to the Triangle since 10 years ago at Greensboro Coliseum, although the 2006 version of the band was not the classic Axl Rose/Duff McKagan/Slash lineup (which reunited this year for a tour dubbed “Not in This Lifetime”). The review of that 2006 Greensboro show is below, and I can’t help wondering if this one will finish earlier in the evening.
Winston-Salem is one of only nine stadium dates the band is playing in the U.S., and the only one between Florida and Pennsylvania on the East Coast. Tickets will go on sale Saturday at LiveNation.com, the Greensboro Coliseum box office, Bridger Field House box office and Ticketmaster outlets (800-745-3000).
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Late, loud and loving’ it: Two decades on, a November reign in Greensboro
By David Menconi, N&O
Nov. 5, 2006
The last time Guns N’ Roses put out a real album, 1991’s double-volume “Use Your Illusion,” George Bush (the first one) was president. Kurt Cobain and Tupac Shakur were both still alive and obscure. MTV actually played videos. And a sizable chunk of the people who turned out for Thursday night’s Guns N’ Roses’ concert at the Greensboro Coliseum were in diapers -- or even in utero.
Fifteen years later, Guns N’ Roses resembles a rock ’n’ roll version of a touring Shakespeare company, with understudies filling all the roles save one. But Hamlet is still large and in charge.
That would be Axl Rose, who put on a show that was intermittently incredible in a wax-museum kind of way. There were marks to hit and guidelines to follow, and all the actors did well.
It was also a show designed to tax the audience’s patience, a grueling six-hour/three-band marathon that didn’t conclude until closing time, 2 a.m. As Rose sang toward the end of the set, “All we need is just a little patience.”
True enough. The show featured two opening acts, both dispensable. Ex-Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach’s hourlong set was thoroughly lame, bottoming out when he lectured the crowd for not showing enough enthusiasm. Turn-of-the-century hitmakers Papa Roach were a bit better but still just aggressively mediocre.
The headline set featured plenty of padding, too, including extended solo spots for all three guitarists. Mostly, those just served to remind you that none of them were Slash (currently seen in a television commercial for Volkswagen). But when they just played the songs, it was like hearing the greatest Guns N’ Roses tribute band on earth -- which the musicians themselves seemed to realize. In a curious gesture, drummer Frank Ferrer actually put down his sticks and clapped between songs.
When the lights finally went down 75 minutes after Papa Roach left the stage and that skittery guitar riff from “Welcome to the Jungle” kicked in, it felt like the hair-band era all over again. Then the flashpots exploded, Rose appeared onstage in full bellow, and the spectacle was on.
It’s easy to find clips online of Rose ranting, raving and throwing people out of his concerts. But Thursday night, he was disconcertingly polite (and wearing a cross, no less). He thanked the crowd for coming and put on a thoroughly professional two-hour-plus arena-rock show.
Rose has definitely lost some vocal power to the years, which a muddy sound mix exacerbated. Where his voice used to cut right through the roar, he was often swallowed up Thursday night. But he can still hit the notes, and he can still peel paint off the back wall when he really lets go. When Rose gathered himself and screamed the chorus of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” for the last time, it was one of those hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck-stands-up moments.
It was hard not to notice that most of the highlights came from Guns N’ Roses’ epochal 1987 debut, “Appetite for Destruction,” one of the most durable albums the past two decades has produced. “Nightrain” and “Mr. Brownstone” were both pulverizing, “You’re Crazy” worked well in a funked-up blues-rock recasting, and “Sweet Child O’ Mine” remains among the most poetic songs in the power-ballad canon. “Sweet Child” would be the best yearbook inscription ever -- if you could somehow get Slash’s guitar solo (expertly rendered Thursday night by ex-Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck) onto a page.
There were a handful of new songs, too, from Guns N’ Roses’ long-in-the-works “Chinese Democracy.” Now that Brian Wilson finally managed to put out a version of his Beach Boys opus “Smile,” that leaves “Chinese Democracy” as the unreleased album with the most intrigue in the rock world. There are reports that it might even be out by the end of this year; but Halley’s Comet is coming, too. The new songs were fine, though nothing to write home about. If nothing else, they gave the crowd a chance to catch its collective breath.
Finally came the payoff, “Paradise City.” As the clock struck 2 and confetti rained down, the band revved up the outro to triple-time speed. Then they came back out and took a bow afterward.
Axl Rose, singing entertainer. Whoda thunk it?