Florida’s Generation X rock fans got their long-awaited fix of classic rock when iconic 80’s rockers Guns N’ Roses brought stadium rock back to Orlando in a big way.
There was plenty of volume, an ample dose of pyro, and a hellacious amount of searing guitar riffs from the best rock ‘n roll guitarist touring today. Axl Rose delivered some highlight moments, and Duff McKagan delivered a fantastic performance, but this night was all about the iconic performance of legendary guitarist Slash.
Rose’s voice was one of the big question marks coming into the show, and he generally came through fine. He hit some spectacular high notes and unfurled his legendary screams to the delight of the huge crowd, but he also struggled at points with some of the lower notes.
After a typical Guns N’ Roses delayed start, the band christened Camping World Stadium, the building previously known as The Citrus Bowl, with a masterfully created set list that stretched out for more than two and a half hours. The 54 year-old Rose was flying around the stage throughout the show, no doubt buoyed by the many opportunities to slip under the risers and rejuvenate. Those quick exits permitted the other six talented musicians plenty of opportunities to show off their tremendous abilities.
And, no one shined more throughout the evening than Slash. He was magnificent all night, but absolutely shined during two creative cover versions. The first was his poignant interpretation of “The Godfather Theme” which led in perfectly to a rousing version of “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” The most impressive moment was a slick duet with Richard Fortus, where the two teamed up for a scintillating cover of “Wish You Were Here.” Fortus is a damn good guitarist in his own right and the duet with Slash was perfect. Then, Axl slid behind the keys and played the iconic piano exit of “Layla” before slipping into a tight version of “November Rain.”
Donning his standard top hat and long curly locks, Slash stoically stood out all night long, delivering searing solos during “Mr. Brownstone,” “Double Talkin’ Jive,” “Civil War” and “Nighttrain.” He also beautifully filled all of the open spaces between songs and during extended versions, giving time to Rose to quickly exit the stage for a quick break, and one of his many wardrobe changes.
Duff McKagan, with Prince’s insignia etched on his bass, stalked around the stage and had a handful of spotlight moments, as well. He stood out on a few nice solos, and took over lead vocals on a raucous cover of The Misfit’s “Attitude,” the surly punk masterpiece seemed to be the moment during the show where the band was having the most fun performing.
Kudos to to Love Spit Love alums Fortus who was solid all night and spectacular at times, and drummer Frank Ferrer who was rock solid throughout the performance.
Shortly after midnight, they came out for a killer encore, in a set that evolved out of a filthy jam, and ended up with “Don’t Cry,” a fantastic version of The Who’s”The Seeker” and their fireworks laced closer “Paradise City.” which sent the exhausted fans happily into the night.
The Cult opened the show and delivered a nice fifty minute warm up with a set that included a cross-section of hits from their three decades of music. Ian Astbury was a bit more engaging than typical and jokingly noted how thrilled he was to be finally playing Camping World. But just like GnR, their performance was driven by guitar brilliance – this time, by underrated axman Billy Duffy.
Finally, this was my first rock show in Camping World Stadium, including its long life as the Citrus Bowl, and I have to say that I was impressed. The facelift and refur have done wonders for the stadium, and the sound was excellent throughout, and the people who work there were friendly and accommodating making a great Orlando impression on the many out of town visitors at the show.
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It’s So Easy
Welcome to the Jungle
Double Talkin’ Jive
Live and Let Die
You Could Be Mine
You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory/Attitude
This I Love
Band intros into Slash solo – Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather/Andy Williams)
Sweet Child O’ Mine
Out Ta Get Me
Jam (“Wish You Were Here/Layla”)
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
Jam / Don’t Cry