More than a year back, when I’d learnt about the fact that the heavy metal band Metallica was to play in India; I couldn’t help but feel sad about it. At that point of time, I was neatly tucked away in Kolkata, a city where just about no international rock band performs. And the cities where Metallica had chosen to play were Bangalore and Delhi. Bangalore, it had to be. But Delhi was a pleasant (okay, at that point, miserable) surprise. While metal/rock lovers of the entire country were gearing up to go watch Metallica – live in concert – on the Indian soil, I wept tears of sorrow. Aah, the side-effects of having no money! No matter how much I’d have died to listen to ‘Fade to black’, ‘Nothing else matters’ and the like being performed in front of me, one has to give in to other, larger problems in life – financial woes, for example. And no, no middle class family would understand the need to shell out a few extra thousands to let their daughter go and watch a gig somewhere in another part of the country altogether. So sourcing money from home was a large, bold, ‘No’.
D-Day came and the Delhi concert turned out to be a huge fiasco. Giggling away to glory (yes, that’s mean, I know. But understand the pain of a fan who wasn’t able to attend the concert), mentally, and publically, made a declaration. If ever, Guns N’ Roses would play in the country – no matter where – I’d make sure that I attend it. Even if that would mean going without food for a month. Back in 2011 when such thoughts played on in my mind, somewhere else, somebody else was planning a bash for this diehard GN’R fan.
And just a year from then, here they are. With an almost entirely new line-up, here’s Axl Rose with his new bandmates – here, in India! Having successfully completed two of their three-city tour in the country, as the band gears up for their Delhi concert, we sit and grin here – unabashed, shameless grins of utter happiness. Being able to see Guns N’ Roses perform right in front of our eyes. Nothing can come even remotely close to the ecstasy that a fan might now be feeling! The joy of holding that piece of paper in our hands – the one that would guarantee us access into the hallowed portals of the Leisure Valley grounds in Gurgaon – is immeasurable to say the least. The feeling can hardly be put into words.
My liaison with Guns N’ Roses began with the rock ballad ‘November Rain’. The first time I listened to it, something seemed to have snapped inside me. For seven days flat, I kept playing the song every waking hour, and fell asleep listening to it. The lyrics, the music, Rose’s voice, Slash’s riff, everything worked up to a different sort of crescendo inside the heart – rending it apart at times and magically healing it at others. Music, truly, was the drug that kept people alive.
Cut to the present. Apart from Axl Rose, we’d be seeing an entirely new line-up perform in front of us – but that’s acceptable. Guitar god Slash won’t be there to pull off that piece of elixir at the end of ‘November Rain’ – that’s something that we just need to live with at the moment. Tomorrow, when the band belts out their legendary numbers ‘Sweet child o’ mine’, ‘Patience’, ‘Don’t cry’ and the like, every other thought-feeling-emotion is sure to take a backseat…
So here’s to those musicians who’ve made sure that they leave an unforgettable imprint with their imprints – no matter where they go. And tomorrow, when they ask, “Where do we go now?”, a smile will be all to answer that question. For they’d already be there. In front of me.