Listen To This Eddie is a weekly column that examines the important people and events in the classic rock canon and how they continue to impact the world of popular music.
Four! F*cking! Hours! That’s just about how long Guns N’ Roses remained onstage during their thunderous, brain-liquefying show at the United Center in Chicago on Monday night. Workday commitments be damned. Everyone in the packed arena knew where we were. We were in the jungle baby with one of the wildest, most self-indulgent and stupefyingly powerful rock bands of the 20th century. It was over when they said it was over!
A little over 18 months earlier, Guns N’ Roses shocked the world when the reunited unit, featuring original members Slash, Axl Rose and Duff McKagan, performed their first live gig together in over two decades at the tiny Troubadour club in their old stomping grounds in Hollywood. Rose actually broke his foot during that gig, which almost sidelined what was envisioned as a triumphant return before it could even start. Thanks to an assist from Dave Grohl, however, the band hit the stage a short while later Coachella with Axl wailing away on a metal throne, officially kicking off one of the most anticipated reunion runs of all-time.
All throughout 2016, the newly minted Guns hit massive outdoor stadiums across the world, playing to 50, 60, and 70,000-seat packed houses of slack-jawed fans who could hardly believe what they were seeing. I caught the show at Soldier Field and was just as dumbstruck as everyone else to watch Axl racing across the stage, getting right up next to Slash as he let loose with another incendiary guitar solo. I’m a pretty optimistic guy, but after the band couldn’t pull it together for their Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction a few years earlier, I firmly believed my chances of ever getting to witness this brotherly display were snuffed out forever. I might as well have been watching a pair of unicorns playing water polo.