For Your Weekend Listening Pleasure: An Appetite For GNR at Fair Park in '87 and '91
I was always told: I shoulda been there the night Guns N' Roses opened for The Cult at the Bronco Bowl September 13, 1987. (Look -- pictures!) Axl Rose even said so upon the band's return to Dallas a mere three months later: "It's good to be back here in Dallas again. I think this was one of my favorite places on The Cult tour. It's nice to be in a place a little bit bigger than the Bronco Bowl this time."
That place -- the Fair Park Coliseum on December 4, 1987, for a Q102-sponsored show. ("Ya got your Mr. Redbeard down here, is that it? He might know this song. Welcome to the Fucking Jungle, Dallas!") Appetite for Destruction was a whole five months old at the time. Maybe that explains the false starts on "Sweet Child o' Mine." The Fair Park show survives as part of the Blowout: Appetite For Destruction Tour '87 Live Archives. Essential. By any chance, did you end up with Slash's "Texas Best Rock" shirt? And ... did he just mention Z-Rock? Man, I feel old.
The GNR show I did attend: July 8, 1991, at Starplex, otherwise known as The Concert That Almost Didn't Happen.
I was the pop music critic for the Times Herald then, and spent close to a week on the phone with the band's then-publicist at Geffen, the kind and patient Bryn Bridenthal, asking some variation of the question: Are they coming? That's literally all I did for a week. Maybe you recall: A few days earlier, outside of St. Louis, Axl popped off on a fan videotaping the band during "Rocket Queen." (Ah, the days before ubiquitous cellphone cams.) Slammed down the mic and walked off the stage. Rioting ensued; shows were canceled. Would the Dallas shows, with Skid Row opening, survive?
Every now and then MTV News would call, because they'd heard Dallas would be where the tour resumed. First and only time I ever had my name mentioned on MTV was when Kurt Loder read something I'd written about the show being on. Also: The first and only time my little brother ever thought I was cool.
After the melee in Missouri, the first few seconds in Dallas were tense. After the band was intro'd, someone chucked something on stage -- a plastic cup of beer, if memory serves. "Hey, hey, hey -- one more thing's thrown, and we're outta here already," Axl warned. "Got a problem?" Um, no. No, sir. "Then let's fuckin' rock."
These are a few things I recall off the top of my shiny head: Axl behind the piano for "November Rain," which hadn't been officially released yet. The frontman's seven-minute rant about "fucking St. Louis" and "why we get up on stage to do this" and how the press "fucks with the entire fucking thing called rock and roll in general" and how Guns is just "a prime fuckin' example of freedom of expression." (It's fun to hear that again, 20 years later.) Oh -- and the big screens filled with shots of women in the audience who'd somehow managed to lose the tops during the show. Yeah. I remember that. Wonder if Mark Graham still has those photos.
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