After a tumultuous first day filled with consistent storming and canceled sets from Kings of Leon and more, New York’s Governors Ball got back on track Saturday (June 8) with near-perfect weather. That’s not to say there weren’t challenges, of course.
Randall’s Island essentially turned into one giant mud pit, so navigating was a real issue for attendees. Imagine attending a music festival where you have to ice skate from stage to stage. That’s how tough it was in places.
That said, the show went on, and fest organizers even found a way to squeeze in Kings of Leon’s missed set from Friday. In an attempt to make good with festivalgoers, they honored one-day tickets purchased for Friday. Try as they might, KoL couldn’t steal Guns N’ Roses’ thunder.
If you had just landed on earth and ended up at a Guns N’ Roses concert circa 2013, you would most likely have a fantastic time. But for those of us who have any sort of preconceived notions about what GnR was in their prime and what they are now, it’s a slight hurdle to move past. The front rows were populated with those who were either experiencing something akin to a religious experience, or those who were just deeply curious as to what a GnR live show these days is even like.
When he wants to, Axl Rose can really give it to the crowd — and last night, he did. Instead of his usual tardiness, he actually started five minutes early, at 9:25. An inside source tells Radio.com that per GnR’s Governors Ball contract, they would be fined for every minute coming on late. (Remember, this festival is held in a public park — organizers have strict noise ordinances to abide by.)
Rose and his crew peppered far lesser-known material with GnR’s greatest hits, all with the same amount of enthusiasm and stage bravado. “Welcome to the Jungle” was the second song they played, but it would be a while before “Sweet Child o’ Mine” made its way into the set. Those, coupled with Axl’s signature slither, enthralled the crowd in a way that few songs — by GnR or otherwise — do. Their covers were a highlight as well: Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die” had more pyrotechnics than even McCartney has at his shows these days (and that’s a bit, to be sure), while Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” morphed into some sort of hard-rocking jam session. The best cover of all, though, was when the grand piano was rolled out, and Axl debuted the most epic of his numerous wardrobe changes: a maroon formal jacket showered in black rhinestones. The five guitarists on stage crept into Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” before Axl chimed in with his best Roger Waters impersonation, deep-throated instead of his usual high-pitched wail. After that was done, he teased the crowd with the piano part to Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” before moving right into the highlight of the whole show: “November Rain.” They played for a while longer afterwards, but little else compared.