So there he is. Fifty years old, but still 25 in most people's minds. He may no longer be the naive, sprightly Indiana boy that stepped off the bus in "Welcome to the Jungle," but he sure as hell doesn't look, or move, like anyone who should be taking their kids on college tours and researching tax-deferred retirement plans.
Last night, Axl Rose brought the latest iteration of Guns N' Roses to New York's Webster Hall, a 1,500-capacity venue that, during its former life as The Ritz, provided the stage for GnR's storied 1988 show. The much-hyped plans of "transforming" the club back to The Ritz meant nothing (New marquee. Wow.) Call the damn spot whatever you want. Just play the songs. And don't be four hours late.
Anyone expecting the Axl train wreck was disappointed. What you got was nearly three and a half hours of nostalgic rock and roll and more than a few power ballads, all focused on one man's twirls, shimmies, growls, roars, grumbles, howls and yelps. It was epic. For those who missed it, here's the full breakdown by the numbers. And if you want to hear the full setlist—in recorded form, but close enough—we made a Spotify playlist.
Time doors opened: 9 p.m.
Nebulous Guns N' Roses start time e-mailed by cautious publicist who’s done this before: “After 10 p.m.”
Scheduled Guns N' Roses start time: 11 p.m.
Actual start time: 11:50 p.m.
Time Axl first spoke to the audience: 12:40 a.m. (to introduce guitarist Richard Fortus)
Time of Axl’s peak energy: 2:15 a.m.
End of set time: 2:28 a.m.
Beginning of encore: 2:29 a.m.
End of show: 3:05 a.m.
Number of breaks: 0
Number of songs: 37
Number of Appetite For Destruction songs: 9/12 (Too bad, “Out ta Get Me,” “Think About You” and “Anything Goes” fans.)
Number of Use Your Illusion songs: 7/30 (“Estranged,” “You Could Be Mine,” “Don’t Cry,” “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” “Live and Let Die” “November Rain,” “Civil War.”)
Number of Chinese Democracy songs: 7/14 (“Chinese Democracy,” “Shackler’s Revenge,” “Better,” Street of Dreams,” “Sorry,” “Madagascar,” “This I Love.”)
Number of covers: 8 (“Live and Let Die,” “James Bond Theme,” “Pink Panther Theme,” The Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” AC/DC’s “Riff Raff,” Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall,” Elton John medley, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”)
Number of songs from GnR’s covers album The Spaghetti Incident: 0
Number of seconds before people recognized “Welcome to the Jungle”: 0.5
Longest scream: 7 seconds (“You're gonna dieeeeeee.”)
Number of camera phones held up for “Welcome to the Jungle”: approximately 30
Number of camera phones held up for “Chinese Democracy”: 3
Number of songs radically different from studio versions: 4 (“Used to Love Her” went electric, “You’re Crazy” became mid-tempo rocker, “Don’t Cry” opened with long guitar solo, “Patience” went electric halfway through.)
Number of songs Axl didn’t sing: 1 (Tommy Stinson’s “Motivation.”)
Number of karaoke sing-alongs: 1 (“Baba O’Riley” with Dizzy Reed on piano.)
Number of times in which Axl disappeared, possibly to snag some oxygen: 9
Number of Chinese characters used as background imagery: 2 (“Chinese Democracy,” “Better.”)
Number of videos with a moon and gently swaying sea graphic denoting tranquility and allowance for the crowd to take their energy down a notch: 1 (“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”)
Number of bizarre short films shown about a girl in trouble or something that didn’t really make sense but kept your interest after you took your bathroom break while the band played a song no one really cared about: 1 (“Sorry.”)
Number of videos featuring 1980s-styled visuals of cheesy-looking Sunset Strip models dancing in slo-mo with fan-generated windswept hair that look like the background to karaoke videos you do at someone’s birthday party that you don’t know if it’s done accidentally or on purpose thanks to Axl’s possibly delusional bubble mind state of what’s still cool: 2 (“Rocket Queen,” “This I Love.”)
Number of videos of fire to substitute for actual pyrotechnics given the small space: 1 (“Live and Let Die.”)
Percentage of times the reggae breakdown in “Live and Let Die” is embarrassing to hear: 100
Number of hats/headbands worn by Axl: 9
Number of faux leopard-skin fedoras worn: 1
Number of songs performed before Axl took off his sunglasses: 15
Number of wallet chains worn that, in Axl’s mind, are still cool: 1
Number of leather jackets worn whose count depends on whether Axl changed into a different jacket or simply used a bedazzler mid-show to adorn the original one: 1 or 2
Number of Kid Robot shirts surprisingly worn by Axl: 1 (Dunny!)
Number of fan-made banners held up by Axl: 1 (“Welcome Back to Paradise City – NYC 2012”)
Number of antagonistic comments or fights initiated by Axl: 0
Number of Broadway-style bows performed by the band at the end of show: 4
Number of “Oh, won’t you please take me home” jokes made during “Paradise City,” the last song in Guns N' Roses mind-boggling, joyously exhausting three hour and 15 minute set: Presumably many.