When a band announces that they are going on a “Farewell Tour”, that usually means, “We’ll be out on the road for 3 years and then decide we’re making way too much money to quit.” Well, this definitely wasn’t the case for punk rock legends The Ramones. When the Ramones said, “We’re outta here”, they meant it. It was hard to believe that after 20+ years and some of the most influential music ever made, The Ramones were packing it in. Hell, the band even titled their last studio album “Adios Amigos.”
My buddy and I showed up at the Masquerade Music Park nice and early and it was hotter than hell that day. The show was rightfully sold out and I just knew that this was going to be a show never to forget. The show was opened by local legends Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ who were hugely inspired by The Ramones. Their southern roots oriented rock didn’t really go over really well with audience at first but the band marched on, sticking to their guns and ended winning them over. There’s nothing more surreal than seeing a sold out Ramones crowd crowd surfing to “Straight To Hell.”
As the theme from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” filled the air, everyone roared knowing that The Ramones would be taking the stage soon. I could feel the energy in the air and before I knew it they hit the stage slamming into “Durango 95” and “Teenage Lobotomy.” Just like every other Ramones show we ever attended, we were all bouncing around and singing at the top of our lungs with smiles that were three miles wide. The setlist was a typical juggernaut Ramones set mixing classics like “Rock N Roll High School”, “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment” and “Rockaway Beach” with newer songs like their cover of Tom Waits’ “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up” and “Cretin Family.” Whenever a band is on their way out, they usually perform one of two ways. They either give it all they’ve got like it’s the last time they’re ever going to play or they just dial it in and slop through it all just to get done. The thing with The Ramones is that if I hadn’t known that this was their “Farewell” tour, I would’ve never known they were calling it a day. They were playing with all the of the drive, hunger and integrity that they have always have and it was great to see them not phased one bit by the “farewell” thing.
In classic Ramones fashion, the band closed out the night with “We’re A Happy Family” only to return with a facemelting encore opening with CJ Ramone’s signature song “The Crusher.” CJ also stepped up to the mic to play Bob Dylan’s “My Back Pages” which was pretty much the most prophetic moment of the entire show as he sang, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” “Beat on the Brat” closed the night to a huge roar and sing along from the sold out and very enthusiastic crowd and then it was done.
The houselights came on and that was that. There were no tears, no big good-byes no nothing. As I walked to my car all I could think was that this couldn’t be the end. “They’ll be back” I said to myself. I was convinced that the world would eventually realize what they had so ignorantly turned a blind eye towards and that they would come back and finally get the respect and commercial success that they deserved. That never happened. Like anything else in their lifetime, The Ramones stood by their word and they didn’t go back on it. They were definitely done. While it was a bittersweet moment to say the least, I can still look back and smile that I got to see the last show that they ever did. I saw The Ramones 5 times in my lifetime and each time was as good as the other, never better never worse. They were a consistently great live band and if you never got a chance to see them live, you missed out big time.
Durango 95, Teenage Lobotomy, Psycho Therapy, Blitzkrieg Bop, Do You Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio?, I Believe In Miracles, Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment, Rock ‘N’ Roll High School, I Wanna Be Sedated, Spider-Man, The KKK Took My Baby Away, I Don’t Wanna Grow Up, Commando, Sheena Is A Punk Rocker, Rockaway Beach, Pet Sematary, Strength To Endure, Cretin Family, Do You Wanna Dance?, Somebody Put Something In My Drink, I Just Want To Have Something To Do, Wart Hog, Cretin Hop, R.A.M.O.N.E.S., Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World, Pinhead
The Crusher, I Don’t Want You, We’re A Happy Family, My Back Pages, Chinese Rock, Beat On The Brat