The Essayist

Aggregated long-form essays from the world's best writers and publications.

The Final Comeback of Axl Rose

by John Jeremiah Sullivan,

On May 15, he came out in jeans and a black leather jacket and giant black sunglasses, all lens, that made him look like a wasp-man. We had been waiting—I don’t really know how to calculate how long we’d been waiting. It was the third of the four comeback shows in New York, at the Hammerstein Ballroom. The doors had opened at seven o’clock. The opening act had been off by eight thirty. It was now after eleven o’clock. There’d already been fights on the floor, and it didn’t feel like the room could get any tenser without some type of event. I was next to a really nice woman from New Jersey, a hairdresser, who told me her husband “did pyro” for Bon Jovi. She kept text-messaging one of her husband’s friends, who was “doing pyro” for this show, and asking him, “When’s it gonna start?” And he’d text-message back, “We haven’t even gone inside.” I said to her at one point, “Have you ever seen a crowd this pumped up before a show?” She goes, “Yeah, they get this pumped up every night before Bon Jovi.” I didn’t want to report that last part, but in the post-James Frey era, you have to watch your topknot.

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