I've been a Guns N' Roses fan since acquiring a cassette copy of Appetite for Destruction from a record store at the Centro Comercial Ciudad Tamanaco in Caracas back in 1988. I've been a fan of their recorded catalog up to the much maligned Spaghetti Incident. This means I've always associated GN'R with Slash's guitar. But I never got into his Snakepit or super group Velvet Revolver (or any other post-GN'R acts by the original members for that matter). So, truth be told, I did not know what to expect from Slash and company at his concert this past Friday at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood.
Any doubts I had about whether or not this show would disappoint vanished once Slash, alongside Myles Kennedy -- who's been with him for the three solo studio albums -- tore into original songs and GN'R covers with complete abandon and gusto.
You can have many opinions about Axl Rose, GN'R members past and present, and the very public interpersonal skirmishes that alienated many fans (myself included), but one thing's for sure, Slash's guitar playing is second to none. And while he might be knocking on 50's door, he's an energetic guitarist who utilizes the stage well.
Myles Kennedy, a powerhouse in his own right with an impressive four octave vocal range, should not under any circumstance be expected to mimic Axl on the GN'R covers. Hearing these songs for the first time performed by another singer just made it totally clear that Slash's distinctive playing is and was as much a part of what made these tunes hits in the first place.
The Appetite-heavy set included "Nightrain," "Sweet Child O'Mine," and "Rocket Queen" and Use Your Illusion II's "You Could Be Mine." Tracks from their upcoming album World on Fire like "Stone Blind" and "30 Years to Life" showed me what I've been missing out on all these years without this top hat-loving axeman in my ear.
His and Kennedy's first musical collaboration, "Starlight" from 2010's Slash album, was a bluesy number that marked the halfway point of the evening. It set a tone for the remainder of the night and tied in the first and second parts nicely for fans who were there expecting GN'R stuff solely.
His Conspirators, the rhythm section of bassist Todd Kerns and drummer Brent Fitz, lent a muscular backbone to all the songs, allowing Slash's guitar to shine and Kennedy's vocals to come through cleanly.
After closing with the classic "Paradise City," Slash addressed the crowd and energetically thanked concert-goers for a great night and lauded the Seminole's turnout for being the "biggest room" they had played on the tour so far. It was around this point that I realized I've been a fool for sleeping on his post GN'R work. That I've been a bad, if not biased fan.
Slash remains incredibly fit and drew plenty of whistling and meowing from the ladies in the audience after he removed his T-shirt. That made me reflect on the current state of my couch-potato physique, but my time will probably be better spent trying to figure out how many of those damned hats he's owned since 1981.