All I can say is, "wow", what a concert. But tonight was far more than a concert. Let me walk you through the evening.
I get there at 10:30pm and the people at the front are saying, "we're filled to capacity, everyone go home..." I'm like fuck, Ron said meet at 11pm and we'd be fine. He tells me to go around back and I'm met by another security guard who won't let me pass. I had to grease that fucker $50 to get to the next security guard waiting by the back door. Luckily, someone I knew in the camp who knew the security guards showed up and we walked in. We walked into the downstairs sections of CBGB which was reserved for band members, friends and some celebs (saw Rachel Hunter and Kevin Bacon). While I was down there, I finally got to meet DJ Ashba, Frank and Sebastian Bach. Let me tell you, these are some of the nicest people going (that's what happens when you send cases of Dr Pepper their way, take notes people). But seriously, these are all down to earth, genuine people that are approachable and easy to talk to. Wonderful, wonderful folk.
At around 12:30, people started putting on their coats to go back around to the upstairs section. People were saying the band was on stage. When I walked through the doors, Mr. Brownstone was on in full force. There's something surreal about walking into CBGB and hearing GNR coming through the speakers and you look up and the band is on stage, playing live. It's magical when a huge stadium act like GNR take center stage inside such a small venue. The sound was amazing. Now I've seen Axl many times over the years, but I can honestly say, that tonight, he sounded just as good, if not better, than when I saw him in 1991. His range, his rasp, his power was all there and in full force. But you know what made tonight sooooo special? It was the rawness of the band. Ron was on an acoustic guitar all night and DJ on the Les Paul. This softer and simpler setup reminded me so much of Guns when they first got on the scene. WIthout the layers and layers of guitar, Axl's voice just comes right at you...that's why I fell in love with Guns N' Roses in the first place and it was magical hearing it for the first time on a cold night in 2010. I'll do my best to recapture the set list, but I was too busy jumping up and down to take proper notes. This is in no way the proper order, but use your imaginations....
Welcome to the Jungle
It's So Easy
Catcher in the Rye - this song shines with Ron on acoustic. Was even better than the album version tonight.
Knocking on Heaven's Door
Whole Lotta Rosie
Sweet Child o Mine
This I Love
I may have missed a song or two, but as you can tell, it was an amazing set list. But you know what impressed me the most? Axl put everything he had into each song. With only about 150 people in attendance, he sung like there were 150,000! What a professional. The only annoying thing was most of the crowd weren't die hard GNR fans (aka, they didn't sing along to the new songs), but that's too be expected in NYC...everyone's too cool for school here. But when Axl plays MSG, it will be all die hards for Jersey and Long Island singing each note with him...
And lastly, after all these years, I finally got to meet the man himself. Fernando and his sister were super cool and once I introduced myself (as the dr pepper bozo), they were so gracious and made sure I got a chance to meet Axl. He's just a really, really nice guy. We had a great little chat and that was that, the perfect end to a perfect evening.
In the end, after all these years, after all of the ups and downs, Guns N Roses has manifest itself into a great band filled with amazing people. When you get close, you realize, these aren't rockstars, they are just people that want to laugh, have a good time and enjoy life. I'm just glad I got to see them in such a special setting giving their all. You know, life is short, and I'm so happy my turn on this rock also includes a little band called Guns N' Fucking Roses! Thank you Ron, Frank, DJ, Axl, Fernando and the gang for an amazing night. You're the best...
CK (aka, Kaneda).
Kaneda, just out of curiosity, how has your opinion of Axl changed after meeting him and speaking to him, especially about the Dr. Pepper fiasco?