I haven’t kept all of my ticket stubs, but one of the first gigs I went to was Guns N’ Roses – a road-trip from Hawke’s Bay to Auckland. There was a strong Hawke’s Bay contingent there – so much so that Axl actually named Hawkes’ Bay in his list of thanks, from memory it was third after New Zealand and Auckland. My uncle screamed out “power to the fucking bay!” in reiteration. On the way to the concert he was moaning about how he’d wished he’d taken his Elton John tape and his Walkman. He was only going, apparently, because my aunty wanted to go. They were my ride up to Auckland. Me and a mate in the back of the cab.
My uncle changed his tune when he found out we were in a special sealed-off front section of the crowd, got to walk past a swell of bogans all lined up and herding for a chance to scale the fence that blocked off the front area – the first 5,000 or 10,000 or something. My uncle gave them all a flash of the fingers as we walked the fence-line.
We saw Skid Row open and no one really cared. Dead Flowers before that I think. But it was all about Guns N’ Roses for us – I still remember the setlist, loved every minute of it. Pretty much a perfect setlist for that time. My uncle thought Slash was pretty special when he heard (and recognised) the theme from The Godfather during his long solo. But said in the car on the way home, “he was no Peter Frampton though” – in reference to the fact that Slash had used a talkbox.
A lot of people talked, after, about how it was a huge let-down, they didn’t play for long, there were hold-ups, shitty sound, bad attitudes, disappointments – and yes there was a technical glitch that did create a stop/start situation early on. But I reckon the band nailed it – I’d probably laugh at that show now. Probably loathe it. But I was 16 and had only seen a couple of other stadium shows.
It was Axl’s birthday, he wore an All Black jersey during Civil War, he played November Rain at the grand piano, they opened with Welcome To The Jungle, a little bit of Wild Horses there at one point and the crowd trying to whistle along to Patience.
Stubs is an occasional feature here at Off The Tracks – looking back through the ticket-stub box and remembering how the show went down.