Despite the band's notorious air-tight security I found myself having somehow gained access to a prime spot for the show, taking a knee on stage right, with a full view of both stage and crowd. Because it was a dream I guess and in my dreams I have all access. Was this Reading or Leeds? I couldn't tell, but it was one or the other, or maybe an amalgamation of both? The opening riff to 'Welcome To The Jungle' began, that unmistakable lick echo'd through the air, and then Axl's voice, that unmistakable nails on a chalk board scream, howled into the English summer night.
"Do you know where you are? You're in the Jungle baby!! You're gonna diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!".
The band launched into the song, guns blazing (pun intended) and unlike the reality I saw a couple weeks ago when we actually played the Reading and Leeds festivals which Guns N' Roses were the headliner of, the crowd was going crazy, loving ever second of it. The crowd I saw in my dream was a sharp contrast to the bored, dazed, confused, disillusioned, angry faces I actually saw in the audience. The band in my dreams was a sharp contrast to the boring, super cheese, excessive, bullshit I actually saw on stage. In reality there was almost silence in between songs when I saw them play, but in this dream when 'Welcome To The Jungle' ended there was a roar of applause and then they quickly launched into 'Live and Let Die', the pyrotechnics all firing in time with the music, unlike the off-time reality I heard and saw, and unlike that reality they were thunderous cannons exploding, not M80's and bottle rockets.
They took time before starting the next song , the kind of time a band takes when they don't give a fuck because they know they have that kind of power over the audience. The kind of power Guns 'N Roses probably used to have but now just think they do. While an ocean of captivated faces, waited for the next song to begin, it was a virtual social event on stage, the band talking amongst themselves and with the crew and groupies, sipping drinks, laughing, it was oddly casual like a smoke break at work. Except Axl, who did not partake in the socializing. Axl kneeled on a riser in the center of the stage staring deeply into a painting of the devil propped up on a small easel. It was a meditation. I had seen this painting somewhere before but couldn't remember where.
Before standing up Axl said a few words to himself, what looked like a prayer and then he blessed himself by drawing a pentagram in the air with his right hand over his face and chest as a Christian would a cross. I don't remember what the next song was, something new, something with a long drawn out piano intro. I was distracted first by trying to understand the meaning of the painting, the prayer, the pentagram, but then I was distracted by Dr. Ruth Westheimer walking up onto the side of stage out of nowhere. Her hair was short and she was wearing a red power suit. She stood right next to me and slowly surveyed the audience and then the band and then greeted a tech and proceeded to walk back stage, as if she was part of the crew, as if she was there working with the band.
When the next song ended the same ceremony happened, except this time Axl kneeled before a different painting, a smaller painting offset in front of the painting of the dark lord. Again, he sat lost in thought, staring deep into this new painting. Again, the rest of the band engaged in casually socializing amongst themselves, crew and groupies. Again, the crowd waited patiently. Again, before Axl got off his knees and the next song began he said his prayer and blessed himself with a pentagram. I couldn't see the face of this new painting though.
Before the song fully kicked in one of the unmemorable, new guitar players started signaling for my attention, it seemed like he thought I was a tech and he held out his guitar for me to come and grab. I went along with it, scurried out to him, hunched down like a tech would and grabbed his guitar from him, a red telecaster model, but not a Fender. From the other side of the stage a real tech scurried up and brought him a replacement. As I turned around and the band kicked in, I passed in front of Axl's riser and swiped the new painting, concealing it behind the guitar. Looking up I saw another of the band's real techs staring me down from the side of the stage. I thought for sure I was busted. When I got to him he reached for the guitar and took it from me. His demeanor giving me the impression that he thought I was supposed to be there. I ran away with my prize, Axl's painting in hand.
Once I was a good distance away I looked down to see what the painting was that I had just stolen and saw in my hands a crude pastel of blackness and clouds with a large image of Yoda's head floating in the right corner of the canvas. I didn't understand the significance. What was the correlation between Star Wars and Satan and Axl Rose? There was no time to think, it wouldn't be long before Axl noticed the painting was missing. I hurried back toward my dressing room behind the side stage we had played hours earlier. I knew as long as I could hear the band playing it meant that Axl hadn't noticed the picture was missing.
When I got back to our stage I found Alkaline Trio packing up their gear in front of it, their show was over and the crowd was gone. I pulled Matt, Derek and Danny aside and quickly showed them the painting and explained where it came from. They all laughed and gave a 'what the fuck' response. I explained to them the whole scene, Dr. Ruth, the painting of the devil, the prayer, the pentagram, how I had been mistaken for a guitar tech and my escape. I thought maybe they would be able to help with understanding the significance as I knew some of them where into that dark arts kind of shit. They offered no insight and went back to packing up their gear.
Backstage I found the rest of my band and showed them the painting, everyone marveled and gave the same 'what the fuck' response as Alkaline Trio had. Again, I explained the whole story, Dr. Ruth, the painting of the devil, the prayer, the pentagram, how I had been mistaken for a guitar tech and my escape. We were all at a loss for understanding, myself especially. I didn't even know why I had felt compelled to take the painting. I had no idea what I was going to do with it now that I had it. Why had I chosen to steal that specific painting over the painting of the devil when I could have grabbed either one? Did the painting hold any powers? Was this part of Axl's mojo? Was the painting worth any money? Would Tommy Stinson think it was funny that Axl's painting had been stolen? Yeah, Tommy Stinson would definitely think it was funny.
Then in the distance I heard the music come to a crashing halt. There was silence first and then Axl started speaking. We all listened as he launched into a tirade I knew was directed at me. For some reason though I guess he was under the impression that my name was Frankie, as he kept addressing me as such. Or maybe in the dream my name was Frankie?
"Where's that little mother fucking thief, coward, Frankie?!?!… Frankie, you son of a bitch, think you can come up here into my house and steal from me mother fucker?!?!?!… Frankie, you little dirt bag, cock sucker, I'm coming for you!!!!!"
And then the loud thud of a microphone hitting the floor was heard and I knew Axl was coming for me.
And then I woke up.