Ever since I can remember, my parents have been listening to rock n' roll. Some of my earliest memories are of my Mum tuning up the old portable cassette player in our kitchen with the likes of Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Elton John, and hair band royalty, Guns N' Roses. I've been told my Dad's famous rendition of Sweet Child O' Mine was the secret sedative for putting me to sleep as a baby. I've also been told his use of Vidal Sassoon in the late 80's was unparalleled. Later in my childhood, and perhaps equally as sedative, was his karaoke version of November Rain on a family trip to Mexico (lets just say this 10-minute rift-heavy song was not an ideal sing-a-long). While Dad could have passed for a less obnoxious version of Axl Rose, Mum was one of those Pam Anderson-esque blonde bombshells you'd find in a Whitesnake music video. I guess it's inherent that the rock gene was passed on to me. I used to love raiding my parents' music collection, and a good rock biography could always be found on Mum's nightstand. It was at a flea market, however, that I came across a book that would come to inspire a love affair with GNR - Appetite for Destruction : The Days of Guns N' Roses by Danny Sugerman. A book that taught me about a generation consumed by excess, ecstasy, and leather everything. A generation that made a statement - and some pretty good f*ckin' music too. You can imagine my excitement then, when the formerly disbanded Guns N' Roses reunited after two decades for the Not In This Lifetime tour - with a Canadian stop in Toronto, no less. On Saturday July 16, GNR played a solid three hours of hits to a sold out crowd at the Rogers Centre. And I think it's safe to say, we were ROCKED. From Welcome to the Jungle to Knockin' On Heaven's Door, Axl belted out the power ballads we all know and love, with larger-than-life stage presence and moves like a serpentine stroking his mic stand. Slash - a mystery as always - was hidden under his curly black mane and top hat, making love to his guitar alongside bassist Duff McKagan, whose epic rock stance is still one I'm trying to recreate. I was most impressed with rhythm guitarist Richard Fortus - maybe because he was a lesser known bandmate to me - but he certainly left a memorable impression playing eyes-closed with silk-shirt unbuttoned and sweat dripping - everything I have ever imagined a rock n' roll guitarist to be. Also on stage were keyboardists Dizzy Reed and Melissa Rees (an anime character brought to life), and drummer Frank Ferrer. The show was a bucket-list item for myself and, I assume, for many others in the audience reliving the 80's with bandanas, ripped jeans, and flannel shirts tied around their waist. I thank my parents for a rock n' roll soul, and if you're like me - born in the late 80's and raised on classic rock - you should thank your parents too. Thank them for an introduction to instrumental prowess and on-stage vanity; timeless roadtrip classics, hand-horns, and general badass-ery. Rock n' roll parents, we salute you.
JULY 18, 2016