Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Guns N' Roses - They still got it!

As an early Christmas present to myself, I bought tickets to the GnR concert in Seattle last Friday, December 16th.  I have to admit, I had pretty low expectations.  I mean, really, it has been over 20 years since Use Your Illusion 1&2 was released.

Besides the time lag, none of the original band members (except Axl) are even in the band anymore.  They haven't played together since the early 90s.  Combine that with all the rumors of Alx spend millions in the studio and never releasing "Chinese Democracy" for over 10 years - and you set your bar pretty low.  But come on!  Its Guns N' Roses!  I never got to see them back in the day.  Even though the LP (that would be the debut "Appetite for Destruction") was released in July of 1987, my first listen to this album wasn't until winter break from college in December of 87.  My buddy from high school, Ed Fox, was still working at our old record store, Sound-A-Rama.

Every brake from college, I would go home and help out in the stores (we had 3 of them) as the Christmas season was always packed with shoppers (ah, the good old days!).  Anyway, while at the store I used to work at in Chester, Ed said."dude, these guys rock!" and threw on side 1, song 1 from Appetite:  "Welcome to the Jungle"....   What else had to be said, I was hooked!

Back to the show.  Well, the first hint at a great night was the opening act.  A bank called Loaded.  In case you don't know who Loaded is, it is the new band from ex-GnR bassist Duff McKagen!  Yes, Duff was going to open for Axl!  This was going to be great!

In addition, the week before, the Rock & Roll Museum had just announced that GnR had been inducted for 2012, so the timing was great!  Axl had to be still jazzed, right?

The anser is YES!  The show was awesome!  Axl played for over 3 hours, Duff played with the new GnR band on a song, Axl let the new band solo and show their chops (they really are excellent musicians and performers!), they worked in some classic Pink Floyd, The Stones, Elton John, Frank Sinatra and Baba O'Riley!

There were pyrotechnics!

But, best of all, Alx was totally into it!  He sounded great, he had tons of energy and he was really gracious with the croud, the band and Duff!  Congrats Axl.  You made me proud.

Happy Birthday Billy Bragg

December 20th, 2011 - Billy Bragg turns 54 years today!

I was first introduced to Billy by my good friend Dave Bennett back in high school.  Dave was a huge fan of Billy and was always singing his songs in Billy's cock British accent.  After awhile, I just learned the songs to sing along at the parties or on road trips.  Dave made a tape for me of "Talking with the Taxman about Poetry" (which is a great album by the way!).

So, naturally we had to go see Billy when he came stateside.  My first show was with my two pals, Dave and Larry, at the Ritz in New York (more on this venue in another post).  The show was on a Saturday night, November 22nd, 1986.  Even though Natalie Merchant opened the show (I can't stand her), the show was awesome!  Just Billy on state with his guitar and his song!  Billy's songs are so powerful, they don't need any accompaniment.   My favorites of the night were "Love Gets Dangerous", "The Milkman of Human Kindness" and of corse one of my all time favorite song, "A New England".

Cheers Billy!