As I sat eating breakfast the morning of the highly anticipated Guns N’ Roses concert, I contemplated whether to keep my lawn ticket or upgrade to a coveted spot inside the venue. It had been over 32 years since the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) and I last saw the legendary rock band during their 1991 “Use Your Illusions” tour. The only other previous time was here in 1988 opening for Aerosmith. ( I was there too).
The Upgrade Dilemma
I went ahead and pursued the usual sites, Ticketmaster, StubHub, and SeatGeek to see what was available for the day of the show and settled on buying a ticket in the PIT. I debated a bit before doing so as being in the PIT is standing-room only and with Guns N’ Roses shows going about 3 hours it can become a marathon. That and once you’re in, it’s best to stake your claim and stay there. (Particularly when solo concerting).
I was happy that the show was to start at 6 PM. This latest trend since Covid, to be out by 10:30ish is certainly welcomed. Where was this when I would have to go to work in the morning?! Given that the show was near being sold out and Ticketmaster calling you to warn you, always a strong indication that one should leave earlier, I headed out at around 4 PM.
Get in the Pit and Try n’ Love Someone
Arriving at the SPAC around 5 PM there was plenty of time for me to wander my way through the security measures and find my way to the front. Being a big fan of Dirty Honey, I wanted to make sure I was able to catch their whole set.
I had seen Dirty Honey in 2021 opening for the Black Crowes and was looking forward to it again. As expected they played a sold 45-minute set. (Pictures)
I was a little surprised that the PIT was fairly empty. Not so much during the Dirty Honey set as this is fairly common for opening acts. Folks tend to stay closer to the alcohol during this time and only start to find their way to their seats in between.
But even so, as it got closer to the start of the Guns N’ Roses set the PIT did not fill up. Certainly a welcomed surprise. Free to roam, and come and go as I pleased.
Guns hit the stage at 7:20 PM kicking off with “It’s So Easy”. They powered through a setlist of classic hits like “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, “Civil War” and “Paradise City” as well as some new music from their upcoming album. (Setlist below)
While somewhat expected though, Axl’s voice struggled at times to hit the range that he was known for in his early career. He did mention that at a show a couple of days earlier he was having voice issues and throwing up between songs and that he was struggling. Even warned us of an upcoming high note that might not be there. It wasn’t. He smiled, shrugged his shoulder, and plowed on.
An interesting twist to someone who many a time stomped off stage when the sound wasn’t right or the band was so drugged up they couldn’t play. Here 35 years later laughing, enjoying his time on stage, and smiling. A welcomed sight. Although I do have to admit, that that raw energy and volatility are what made them who they are and made the early shows that much more exciting and entertaining.
Still, these are imperfections that I expected as this wasn’t my first rodeo. He still has a decent range and did the old and new songs justice. (Although his dancing has gotten weirder.) Slash was still his killer self and Duff was the solid glue.
Three and half hours later they and I were still standing.