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Guns N’ Roses | still from video

On August 4, 1988, LA rock n’ roll bad boys Guns N’ Roses rolled through Philadelphia for a show at The Spectrum opening for Aerosmith. The notoriously bombastic crew was on the cusp of international fame as well as internal and external explosion.

Earlier that month, their debut Appetite For Destruction – the biggest selling debut in rock history – had just reached number one on the charts, and remained there for five weeks. Soon after they would release GN’R Lies, the record of enthralling anthems for the youth of the time like “Move to The City,” the pensive ballad “Patience” and the controversial “One In A Million,” where singer Axl Rose was slammed for use of racial slurs in his lyrics.

This show at The Spectrum is a glimpse into the calm before the storm – meaning a time when the boys were still an opening act, all of the original members were intact and before the infamous 1990 AMA speech given by Rose and Slash on live television that was fueled by intoxication and littered with obscenities. Incidents like these were where a lot of their appeal came from. They embodied youthful rebellion and are credited with rekindling mainstream acclaim of rock and roll. Unfortunately, their selling point proved to be their main pitfall. As the ’90s progressed the band was climbing into the realms of rock and roll gods but internally, drug abuse and creative differences ran rampant.

On this particular night, the quintet was on fire. Their energy was high, they were mildly sober and a speech by Rose at 8:05 about a run in with the police prior to the show drove their set forward and galvanized the crowd. Aptly this impassioned dialogue was given just before the crew played the hit “Out Ta Get Me.”

These 2012 rock and roll hall of famers are the embodiment of an era where music and debauchery went hand in hand, a time when this generation’s parents were doing exactly what they tell their kids not to do today. An ironic tidbit that might be a good way to bridge culture gaps among generations.

If you were lucky enough to have attended this show, please share any memories you might have (or not have) with us in the comments section below. You can also check out a recording of their full set.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BX_QXx3SIK4

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