The Rolling Stones, The Who, Bob Dylan with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Kiss, Electric Light Orchestra, Little Richard, Stevie Wonder, John Lennon, Wings, The Beach Boys . . . all at the Garden; Bruce & The E Street crew at The Palladium on 14th Street; Slash's Snakepit at Wetlands; Rancid, Marilyn Manson, Green Day at Roseland; Carl Wilson, Al Kooper, Flo & Eddie, Jerry Jeff Walker, Chubby Checker at The Bottom Line; The Yardbirds, Vanilla Fudge at The Village Theater; Chicago, Frank Sinatra at Carnegie Hall; Frankie Valli, Johnny Maestro, Ronnie Spector, Brian Wilson, Little Anthony And The Imperials at Radio City Music Hall; Genesis at Philharmonic Hall; The Allman Brothers Band, Queen, Lynyrd Skynyrd at The Beacon; James Brown, BB King at BB Kings, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Joe Ely at The Lone Star; Leslie Gore at Reno Sweeny's; Harry Chapin, Curtis Mayfield, Bette Midler at The Bottom Line; NOFX, The Lunachicks, Willie Nelson at Tramps, Elton John at Central Park . . . and on and on and on. As I write this list I realize how blessed I have been to live in New York and afforded the opportunity to see all these incredible artists and lots more in concert. It has been beyond wonderful.
So it stands to reason when I was offered a ticket to see Guns N' Roses at The Hammerstein Ballroom I gratefully accepted it as part of my musical destiny. The line stretched around the long New York City block and the crowd was mellow, festive, breezy. This was very cool; we were waiting on line to see Axl Rose. One time long long ago it was the line to see Frank Sinatra at the Paramount Theater in Times Square, now in 2006 its Axl Rose.
Do you get that? He's Sinatra now. He's Hendrix at The Fillmore. He's that guy!
This ain't Provo, Utah, you understand? And no offense to the good folks of Provo, but this is Fn' IT! This is New York City, the center of the universe, the 9/11 survivors, the heavyweight champion city of the world! The people here have seen it all. We accept only the best of the very best. We wait on line for no one, but on this spring Monday evening we make an exception, we wait on line for Axl Rose. Why? We get him that's why. He's crazy, he takes no shit, he's sexy, he's talented, he's got balls, he does it his way, he's Frank Sinatra!!!!
The line moves fast, the mandatory pat down is cake, within minutes we're inside on a much shorter line waiting to secure a drink bracelet because no one will be served alcohol beverages without one. No sweat, everybody knows the drill. Here's the ID, here's your wristband, and the bar is right over there. Mellow is the mood.
Beer in hand, earplugs in place, everyone stakes out their spot on the large floor. I lean against the barrier separating the sound crew from the audience. The air conditioning is on, the Corona is cold and all is well with the world, just another Monday night in New York City.
Bullet For My Valentine is the opening act. Cool name eh? I love it and decide, even though I've never heard of these guys, I'm gonna love 'em cause the name is so cool. You can read all about them at their web site www.bulletformyvalentine.com. They were great, but nobody cared. Two years from now scalpers will be getting 500 bucks a ticket for one of their concerts, but that's then and this is now, and tonight somebody had to open for Axl, it could have been a head of lettuce or an acoustic set by surviving Beatles, McCartney and Starr, nobody would have cared. The opening act was just a ritual everybody, including Bullet For My Valentine, had to go through. The crowd chanted Guns N' Roses throughout the set.
You can see this fantastic group at Download in Downington Park 2006 in June. They are on the bill with Tool, Metallica, Guns N' Roses, Cradle Of Filth, and a bunch of others. Bullet For My Valentine are going to be big, but this article isn't about them and the night wasn't about them either. They, like security, beer bartenders, the sound crew, and everybody else were just performing their roles in support of Axl and his audience. They went off at about 9:15 and then we all waited and listened to a great mix played at maximum volume You Shook Me, Crazy, Iron Man . . . Van Halen, Zep, Queen, Mötley Crüe fantastic stuff. It was very enjoyable and the crowd surprisingly mellow as we waited till a little after eleven for the headliners.
I mean, everyone knew the deal, Axl&doors at 7:30..opening act done at 9:15&GNR&almost 2 hours later&no riot, no problem, we're New Yorkers. So we had another beer and dug Danzig at top volume.
And then . . . there he was Guns N' Roses . . . Axl Rose.
I don't know how he pulls it off. It's a different band&great, but different&Jagger couldn't get away with this&nobody could&except Axl Rose. See, as it was explained to me, he is Guns N' Roses&sorry Slash, but the fact is you weren't in the house, and nobody missed you (too much).
Axl, energetic, enthusiastic, crooned and snarled his way through 20 GNR classics and new ones. No Izzy, as rumored, but a guest shot from Sebastian Bach on "My Michelle." You got "Welcome To The Jungle," It's So Easy," "Live And Let Die," with pyro that proves when its done right everyone lives and nobody dies. You know what I'm saying here. Axl's the crazy one? This ain't no Rhode Island baby. God bless those fans that died or were burned. And to Great White&you are forgiven&nobody wanted that to go down, but it was a major fuck up. I don't think your manager should have gotten four years - community service would have been fine, but compared to the 30 he could have gotten, he did ok. The point is, shit like that don't go down at a "crazy" Axl Rose show, dig? This man is a professional all the way. I call it like I see it and when I saw the pyro in this show, in this CLUB; I tipped my hat to Mr. Rose for doing it right.
You got "Knocking On Heavens Door," "Paradise City," and new stuff from Chinese Democracy, all stretched over two and a half hours. Axl Rose is Guns N' Roses and he proved it in New York City. If you can make it here you can make it anywhere.
So what happens next? Europe, and the new CD and Axl is the man for 2006, 7 and 8. Slash and those guys will make noise and throw shit around. Eddie Vedder and Springsteen will campaign for Hillary Clinton and Axl Rose will keep rock alive for a few more years until that new band comes along, maybe it will be Bullet For My Valentine, who knows?
Hey Axl, you crazy diamond, thanks, and keep doing it your way.
1. Welcome to the Jungle / 2. It's So Easy / 3. Mr. Brownstone / 4. Better / 5. Live and Let Die /
6. Sweet Child O' Mine / 7. Knockin' On Heaven's Door / 8. Madagascar (Band Introductions) /
9. You Could Be Mine / 10. Dizzy Solo / 11. The Blues / 12. Out Ta Get Me / 13. Bumblefoot Solo /
14. November Rain / 15. My Michelle (with Sebastian Bach) / 16. Chinese Democracy /
17. T.W.A.T. (There was a Time) / 18. Patience / 19. I.R.S. / 20. Nightrain / 21. Robin Finck Solo /
22. Paradise City
Axl Rose - Vocals / Robin Finck - Guitar / Ron Thal - Guitar / Richard Fortus - Guitar /
Tommy Stinson - Bass / Dizzy Reed - Keyboards / Chris Pittman - Keyboards / Brain - Drums
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