- Tom Sinclair, Rolling Stone
Midway through Guns N' Roses' two-and-a-half-hour Giants Stadium set, a frustrated Axl Rose tried to goad the capacity crowd into showing more enthusiasm. "It's not that fuckin' hot," he chided them. Rose was talking about the weather, but he could well have been offering a capsule review of GN'R's show.
If anyone had any doubts, Guns N' Roses New Jersey performance made clear that the group is a bona fide arena-rock act- complete with the bombast, ego-tripping silliness and musical indulgences that go with the territory. Between the scantily clad female horn section and Rose's innumerable costume changes, the show took on the air of Las Vegas chintz at odds with the Gunners' hard rockin' aura. When fireballs were detonated at strategic points during "Live And Let Die," the effect was more Spinal Tap than spine tingling. Still, when the band got down to brass tracks and pummeled out it's Appetite For Destruction-era classics like "It's So Easy" or "Mr. Brownstone," one could almost believe that GN'R were worthy of wrestling the World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band title from the Stones.
Slash managed to contribute his share of molten blues riffing, especially when "Double Talkin' Jive" (dedicated by Rose to "our two presidential candidates") stretched into a long, fluid jam. But the set's erratic pacing undercut its momentum. Things bogged down badly with the ballad "November Rain," on which Axl played piano, and degenerated rapidly: Rose took several potshots at departed guitarist Izzy Stradlin; the crowd was forced to endure a Matt Sorum drum solo and was then treated to Slash's interpretation of the Godfather theme. The encore - bracing versions of "Estranged," "Don't Cry" and "Paradise City" - served to reinvigorate the crowd, but if truth be told, even if GN'R had been in top form all night, they couldn't have topped Metallica's galvanizing set.
As evidenced by the thousands who ignited lighters during "The Unforgiven" and pumped fists in the air while singing along to "Master Of Puppets," the night belonged to Metallica. "You guys like that shit, don't ya?" asked guitarist and lead singer James Hetfield after "The Shortest Straw" elicited a torrent of applause and cheers.
On song after anthemic song, Metallica achieved a pristine brutality that was riveting. Even when the band got loose - bassist Jason Newsted took a solo turn, quoting "The Star-Spangled Banner" and Led Zeppelin's Dazed And Confused" before he was joined by guitarist Kirk Hammet for the Alfred Hitchcock Presents theme - the audience was rapt. To paraphrase the group's recent hit, after Metallica, nothing else mattered.