Slash feat Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators at the LG Arena, Birmingham 1/12/14
It is a sad fact that in recent years rock music has really failed to deliver any truly great iconic figures. However, there is no doubt that Slash is one of the true greats. He is the ultimate rock guitarist with the ultra-cool look and style which makes him instantly recognisable. The moment the crowd first get a glimpse of that black hat atop of that curly black hair, the whole audience comes alive. It also has the visual effect of making Slash look ageless as he is just a blur of hair and guitar shapes.
It does make quite a surreal experience to see a whole crowd primarily focussed on the guitarist of a band rather than the lead singer. Whilst he is a man of few words, he still manages to capture the crowd with just his presence and, of course, his majestic guitar solos. It is a tribute to him and the rest of the crowd that his solo work is met with large cries of joy as the band belt out songs like “Halo”, “Wicked Stone” and “World on Fire”.
A lot of credit also has to go to Myles Kennedy who is a great singer and gets the balance right of being engaging but not making the mistake of trying to steal any of the limelight from Slash. He does a good job of involving the crowd but keeps it simple and miles away from the obnoxious behaviour of former band members that Slash has had to work with! It has to be said his voice does have that same ‘whine’ of Axle but he is far from being a kind of copy act. In fact, it is similar to Stephen Sheraux who some might know from the sadly ignored and forgotten Kik Tracee. The quality and appeal of Myles’ voice was most evident when compared to the high pitched, unpleasant, wail of Glen Hughes who joined as a guest for one song.
The Conspirators as a whole were a really great band and very tight. The understated star of the band probably being the bass player who resembled Rachel Bolan from one of G’N’R s contemporaries Skid Row. He had all the hard bass lines and cool punk rock attitude. The comparison was emphasised when he took over vocals when the band were joined by Motorhead’s Phil Campbell for a brilliant run through of the classic “Ace of Spades” (Just like Mr Bolan used to sing the Ramones’ Psychotherapy).
The whole set was a well-managed and timed mixture of songs from Slash’s output, both solo and as parts of various bands. This included a great version of the underrated Velvet Revolvers’ biggest hit “Slither”. There can be no doubt, however, that inevitably the biggest reactions came for those great Guns N Roses songs. It wasn’t just the obvious singles, but also songs like “Night train”, “Rocket Queen” and our personal favourite “Mr Brownstone”. There was actually only one post appetite song and that was the absolutely monstrous “You Could Be Mine”. It really was very special to hear Slash rip out the intros and solos for truly magnificent and classic songs like “Sweet Child Of Mine” and “Paradise City”. It was a timely reminded as to why Slash was at one point a member of literally the biggest band in the world. It was “Paradise City” which ended the show in spectacular style and it was a brilliant and raucous conclusion.
It was also good to see that at the end of the show the whole band, including the main man himself, spent plenty of time after the lights went up, thanking their fans and flicking out plectrums to an excited and appreciative crowd. There was a promise of returning for Download and it can only be hoped we get the chance to see this brilliant guitarist and band back playing in the Midlands very soon.