Fleur the Kiwi
(Warning: this review does not purport to be unbiased or well rounded.)
When you go to see Slash live, as we did at the gorgeous Fox Theater in Oakland on Tuesday night, all the other musicians are extraneous (I say this with all due respect, for they are excellent musicians). Slash could play solo for an hour and a half and that would be a hell of a show. Although, I really like drums. So, Slash and a drummer for an hour and a half. As it was, we got Slash, a drummer, a rhythm guitarist, a bass guitarist, and two singers. Sorry, vocalists (the preferred term since many rock singers can’t actually sing. There’s also “frontman,” but that excludes the hard-rockin’ frontwomen such as Joan Jett, Chrissie Hynde, Lita Ford, who can sing — and can they ever! But I digress).
Slash strolled onto the stage as the lights came up and started to play, and my jaw dropped. It did. After about thirty seconds I turned to Hazelzworld and said, “Slash is fucking brilliant.” Which he is. And was. It was obvious from the setlist that he prefers the harder, faster tracks — the whole show was fast, furious fun, and the crowd energetically and vociferously expressed its pleasure, appreciation, adulation from start to finish.
Myles Kennedy is the featured vocalist (and he can sing) joining Slash and The Conspirators for this tour, but unfortunately he was coming down with something (the flu?) and was unable to project his voice. I had a hard time hearing him (especially over all those blazing guitars!) and was actually glad when bassist Todd Kerns (lead singer of Sin City Sinners) took over the mic. Along with his voice, Myles’ energy was also muted, but Todd was a 6’4″ bundle of hair-flipping vigor and full-volume rock vocals.
There was the requisite scheduled solo towards the end of the show (see setlist, below), which was fantastic, but also a 20-minute long (I might be exaggerating, a little) solo in the middle of “Rocket Queen” that was incredible. And, of course, there was “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” I wonder if Slash feels trapped into having to play this song every show, year after year, or whether he actually enjoys it as much as he obviously enjoys the hard, fast, guitar-heavy tracks — whichever is the case, I am grateful he played it the night that I was there, the first time I had seen him perform (I never got to see Guns N’ Roses in their heyday). When he calmly — almost as if he were in his garden enjoying a quiet Sunday afternoon — picked those unmistakable opening notes to “Sweet Child,” a scream escaped my throat and a thrill ran through my being. That intro is not among the most technically demanding, complex, or effect-driven guitar riffs … and perhaps that is part of its brilliance.
Previous nights’ setlists had listed “Paradise City” as the only song in the encore, so that’s all we were expecting, but when the band came back on stage after only a short, audience-screaming break, Slash took the mic (I think it was Slash; it might have been Todd — my memory is a little clouded by emotion and adrenalin by this point) and said, “This one’s for you, Oakland!” And they ripped into “Welcome to the Jungle” with Todd on vocals. Perfect!! And fantastic. Then the roadies changed out the mic and Myles took over for the finale, “Paradise City,” the obvious closer to a guitar fest led by a maestro, with its guitar-drum frenzy at the end.
2. Standing in the Sun
3. Nightrain (Guns N’ Roses song)
5. Back from Cali
6. Mean Bone (Slash’s Snakepit song)
7. Mr. Brownstone (Guns N’ Roses song)
8. Doctor Alibi (Todd Kerns on vocals)
9. Out ta Get Me (Guns N’ Roses song; Todd Kerns on vocals)
10. No More Heroes
11. Bad Rain
12. Rocket Queen (Guns N’ Roses song)
13. We’re All Gonna Die (Todd Kerns on vocals)
14. You’re Crazy (Guns N’ Roses song; Todd Kerns on vocals)
15. Blues jam/guitar solo
17. You’re a Lie
18. Sweet Child O’ Mine (Guns N’ Roses song)
19. Slither (Velvet Revolver song)
20. Welcome to the Jungle (Guns N’ Roses song; Todd Kerns on vocals)
21. Paradise City (Guns N’ Roses song)