The Ramones were a huge part of my teenage years and for the better part of 23 years have managed to not only be part of the soundtrack of my life but a band that still holds a special place in my heart to this day. After calling it a day back in 1996, The Ramones all parted ways to do various projects and since then we have lost Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone solidifying their status of true rock and roll legends. The band may be gone but the songs live forever connecting to yet another generation. A generation who will sadly never get to see a Ramones show but in the immortal words of Joey Ramone, “All is very well, C.J. is here!”
The audience at the Masquerade this night was pretty slim due to a scheduling blip. A huge hip hop show was booked at the outside stage leaving zero parking and causing many to turn around and leave. This didn’t seem to phase the ones who weren’t bound to miss this night. The audience ranged from the classic, older young at heart fan to the literally young fan. There’s nothing cooler than seeing a guy that looks like your dad wearing a Vibrators shirt! CJ took the stage with legendary Ramones collaborator Daniel Rey (sporting a shirt that said “Hey Ho Let’s Go!) on guitar and stepping up to the mic addressed the audience: “We’re gonna have fun tonight Atlanta! BLITZKRIEG BOP! 1-2-3-4!” and the place went nuts. In classic Ramones fashion, without stopping CJ and company kicked into “Judy Is A Punk” but it was “Beat On The Brat” that whipped everyone into a frantic mosh pit complete with fist pumping chorus sing a long. This audience was about ? the size that I’m used to seeing but the energy and excitement expressed by these people was 3x their size. It was really beautiful thing to see so many smiles and so many people young and old high fiving, hugging and singing along.
CJ Ramone pulled out some killer stops by dipping into the obscure. He dedicated the song “Endless Vacation” to his buddy Nick Oliveri of Kyuss Lives who had just been arrested after a long stand off with police at his California home. It was also a really great treat to hear CJ play Bob Dylan’s “My Back Pages” from the Acid Eaters album. Hearing him sing “I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now!” was somewhat prophetic as it was a true testament to the fact that he his back out here not only playing these songs but reflecting on his past and memories with each and every song. The show was full of emotions and heart and it really tugged at my heartstrings. When Daniel Rey took the microphone to dedicate “Poison Heart” to the late Joey Ramone, it literally made the hairs on arm stand up. These guys were playing for their fallen brothers and it was a truly emotional moment and delivered with nothing but the purest heart and soul.
In true Ramones fashion, the show was closed out by “Pinhead” which had every changing “GABBA GABBA HEY! GABBA GABBA HEY!” As CJ and band left the stage, the crowd began chanting the legendary “HEY HO, LET’S GO!” encore chant. CJ took the stage laughing and said, “You guys said the magic words!” After talking about his album that will be coming out sometime towards the end of the year, the band played a new song that CJ wrote for his fallen brothers called “3 Angels On My Shoulder” which was a really fun yet touching song that is as good as any classic Ramones song I’ve ever heard. “Do You Wanna Dance” literally had people dancing all over the place with each other in old school sock hop fashion and for the finale, the Lemmy Kilmister penned “R.A.M.O.N.E.S” brought the house down with a huge roar. Bidding us all a good night, CJ and company left the stage.
It was so amazing to see 3-4 generations of Ramones fans in one room reliving the good old days and in some cases getting their first opportunity at seeing the closest to a Ramones show that they will ever see. You know how sometimes you can just feel that magic at a show where you feel moved and connected with the performance? This was one of those and for an hour and 15 minutes, there was not a care in the world for me or anyone else in that room. That’s when you know you’re seeing a special show and trust me, this was a special night. To restate a lyric from the late, great Joey Ramone: “All is very well, C.J. is here!”
CJ Ramone Setlist
Blitzkrieg Bop, Judy Is A Punk, Beat On The Brat, Cretin Hop, Endless Vacation, Pet Semetary, Sheena Is A Punk Rocker, My Back Pages, I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend, Glad To See You Go
Poison Heart, Listen To My Heart, Wart Hog, I Wanna Be Sedated, Commando, Pinhead
3 Angels on my Shoulders, Do You Wanna Dance, R.A.M.O.N.E.S.
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