My first memory of Guns N’ Roses is listening to Appetite for Destruction in my 5th grade class. Our teacher used to let us kids bring in a cassette to listen to on Fridays and a kid named Ken brought it in (I think he borrowed it from his older sister). Back around the same time my parents used to take advantage of deals through companies BMG or Columbia House where they would buy 1 album and get 12 for free. They ended up ordering Appetite for Destruction and I ended up stealing it from their collection. Before Nirvana came along GNR was one of only a handful of bands I even cared about and they were pretty much at the top of that small handful.
Fast forward to my freshman year in high school right about the time the Use Your Illusion albums came out when GNR was touring with Faith No More and Metallica. I remember this being the first concert ever wanting to see but I was still too young to drive and did not really have any older friends that could drive or money for that matter. One of the hottest girls in our school was a senior when I was a freshman and I can still see her walking down the hall in the t-shirt she had gotten from wherever she saw the tour. Within a few years GNR as the world knew them broke up and long story short I never got to see GNR…until now. So after many years of feuding Axl, Slash and Duff set aside their differences to do a tour…a very lucrative tour.
So it was announced that GNR was to play Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego as the last stop of a very limited tour. Even though the show was on a Monday this was still super convenient to me since I live within walking distance of Qualcomm Stadium. So I randomly get a text from my buddy one Saturday letting me know that there is a presale for tickets but you must purchase a fan club membership for $49 to get in on that action. All telling it ended up being $250 for 2 tickets that I thought at the time were actually fairly good seats on the floor level. Once my friend Larry living abroad caught wind he shot me a message saying something along the lines of “get me a ticket or I’ll fucking kill you.” I thought worst-case scenario I could sell the other ticket if I needed to but it ended up being a nightmare. Since I thought both my tickets were spoken for I had Bob purchase 2 tickets as well. Larry ended up not coming and now we had 2 extra tickets to get rid of in a very saturated market. At the end of the day we ended up selling Bob’s 2 tickets to friends of ours for $40 each and kept mine to use as they were the better of 2 pairs…but they turned out to be Club level, not floor.
After waiting for what seemed like forever Bob and I walked out of the nearby Liquor Store with a sandwich in hand and headed over to the parking lot to tailgate. There were a handful of people we were supposed to meet up with but I had went swimming with my non-waterproof phone the weekend before so…we just finished our beer and sandwiches and went in to see openers The Cult. We sat down and after a minute I realized that we had accidentally gotten into the Plaza level seating. About this time we saw several people walking over a gate to get onto the field level so we figured why not? Now we only had one security guard to get through to get onto the floor. Easier said than done. Even if we could figure out a way down to the floor everyone down there was wearing a bright yellow plastic wristband. Right about this time a guy just went right over the port-o-potty roof and onto the floor. We thought this was going to be our only way down but all the lights were still bright so we decided to wait until GNR actually started playing. We did not need to wait long. About 3 songs in the security guard at the end of our row abandoned post and we booked it. We tried to just blend in at the back of everyone standing on the floor and apparently were successful because we never got kicked out. Some of my favorites were “It’s So Easy,” “Double Talkin’ Jive,” “Civil War,” “Coma,” and “November Rain.” Al’s near constant wardrobe changes were comical but GNR was firing on all cylinders and clocked in at just under 3 hours which officially makes this the longest performance I have ever seen. Badass.