By Thomas Anthony, News Editor
Winston-Salem, known as a “City of Arts,” has hosted numerous festivals and concerts, and serves as home to the North Carolina School of the Arts. In December, it was announced that Winston would be hosting what might possibly be its most notable act yet. Rock band Guns N’ Roses will be performing at Wake Forest’s BB&T Field on August 11, 2017 as part of their “Not In This Lifetime…” tour.
“Winston-Salem has a history of supporting the arts and that includes hosting national and global entertainers,” President of Visit Winston-Salem Richard Geiger said. “Guns N’ Roses helps to raise the bar in the caliber of acts interested in performing in Winston-Salem and we’re confident that this forward movement isn’t slowing down anytime soon.”
Guns N’ Roses is a hard rock band from California that began playing in 1985. The quintet gained popularity with the release of their best-selling album Appetite for Destruction in 1987, featuring classic songs “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Paradise City,” and “Sweet Child o’ Mine.” The band released three more records before the original group began to grow apart in 1993, leading to a completely new lineup in the late 1990s. Their “Not In This Lifetime…” tour has been ground-breaking as it has marked the first time that three of the original members: frontman Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, and Duff McKagan have performed together since 1993. They are joined on the tour by current members Dizzy Reed, Richard Fortus, and Frank Ferrer. The tour began on April 1, 2016 and includes six legs and a total of 99 shows across the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Winston-Salem will be one of the destinations on the last leg of the tour that will conclude in September.
The announcement of the show has excited many music fans in Winston-Salem providing a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the famous band on what could be their last tour.
“I like their style of music and would be excited to see them play,” senior and rock fan Trae Jenks said. “It’s good that we can have a variety of music come to perform in Winston.”
The event marks the first concert that has been booked at BB&T Field, since a five-year agreement was made in 2013 between Wake Forest and the Greensboro Coliseum. This deal entails that the Coliseum administration manage all non-sporting events at Wake’s athletic venues, Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum and BB&T Field, and was made in an attempt to get more big shows to the Triad.
“We had visions of hosting big events when the deal was made, simply because of our goals to book every show possible and BB&T Field’s new capacity opportunities,” Greensboro Coliseum Deputy Director Scott Johnson said. “The overall goal is for the Triad to catch up to Raleigh and Charlotte economically and grow as a union of both Greensboro and Winston-Salem together. There are only so many stadium shows, particularly when there are so many North Carolina venues, so landing this one stadium show is a really big deal and we certainly hope it leads to more.”
Some were surprised when it was announced that BB&T Field will be hosting this noteworthy event, but Johnson is confident that the facility will provide a great experience for the band and all who attend.
“First and foremost, Guns N’ Roses is on a stadium tour,” Johnson said. “There were a number of places in the Carolinas where they could have played, Columbia, SC, Clemson, Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, Carter-Finley in Raleigh, Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill or even Duke University. We presented the reasons why BB&T Field is the better play even though we are the smallest of the stadiums by about 8,000 seats. We worked closely with LiveNation to create an economic arrangement that overcomes the smaller amount of fans and puts the show in an intimate stadium play. We think the concert will be unbelievable in BB&T Field, patrons will have ample parking, the sightlines in BB&T Field are excellent and the venue amenities will accommodate everyone’s needs.”
Many anticipate that the show will draw lots of tourists to Winston-Salem next August. Tickets went on sale in December ranging from $35-$250 and a capacity crowd of 36,000 is expected.
“Anytime Winston-Salem has the opportunity to bring world-renowned acts to our stage, it is definitely a positive,” Geiger said. “With the city undergoing so much renovation downtown, there is an increasing demand for art and entertainment for our residents and visitors. Guns N’ Roses has a large fan base and we’re looking forward to showcasing our city to the fans traveling for this event.”
Photo from Rolling Stone.