When Guns N’ Roses disintegrated in the mid-’90s, few would have suspected that the popular act’s top-hatted guitarist would go on to enjoy a more successful career than any of his band mates.
A capacity audience of almost 3,000 heard the guitarist offer a survey of his remarkably productive career Thursday at the Midland Theater. His riveting two-hour appearance included material from his stints in Guns N’ Roses, supergroup Velvet Revolver and his increasingly impressive solo career. His new Apocalyptic Love is one of the strongest hard rock albums released since Guns ’N Roses’ classic 1987 debut album Appetite For Destruction.
Working with capable vocalist Myles Kennedy and the three additional men who comprise the Conspirators, Slash proved that his new material is no less bracing than his old favorites. The key component of Slash’s compositions are their remarkably catchy guitar elements. He’s conceived an inordinate amount of the most memorable rock and roll riffs of the past 25 years. Slash’s most famous work is the chiming introduction of “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” Most of the twenty other selections performed Thursday featured similarly engaging riffs.
When he plays with concise precision, Slash seems like the world’s best rock guitarist. The majority of his solos Thursday were taut 30-second statements. His bashing on the street punk anthem “Out Ta Get Me,” for instance, was feral but eloquent. Like soot-stained snowflakes, no two Slash solos were alike. Unlike most of his contemporaries in hard rock and heavy metal, he’s conversant with the history of blues and rock and roll. Even at its most metallic, Slash’s playing contains traces of Chuck Berry and Jimi Hendrix. Slash only faltered during extended solos. The seductively squalid “Rocket Queen” was spoiled by a meandering solo. And while technically impressive, Slash’s lengthy solo on “Anastasia” was an exercise in self-indulgence.
Most of the delighted audience sang along with a triumphant set-closing rendition of the Guns N’ Roses hit “Paradise City” as they watched bits of flittering confetti stick to Slash’s shirtless torso. The guitarist’s vital performance eradicated any potential outbreaks of nostalgia. For Slash and his fans, these are the good old days.
Setlist: Halo; Nightrain; Ghost; Standing in the Sun; Back From Cali; Been There Lately; Civil War; Rocket Queen; No More Heroes; Carolina; We’re All Gonna Die; Out Ta Get Me; Not for Me; Starlight; Anastasia; You’re a Lie; Sweet Child O’ Mine; Slither; Fall to Pieces; Paradise City.
Foxy Shazam: Foxy Shazam, a sexually-ambiguous glam-rock band from Cincinnati, was greeted with stony silence by much of the audience. Other Slash fans laughed uncomfortably. Eccentric front man Eric Nally acknowledged the icy reception. “Twenty bucks says none of you can kill me,” he shouted. “I’ll get to you before you get to me.”
By the conclusion of its 40-minute set, however, Foxy Shazam was no longer in danger. The sextet’s over-the-top antics and nonstop energy had won over the crowd.
The Follow: The Follow, a coed trio from Columbia, Missouri, played a 20-minute set that evoked the exploratory grandeur of U2’s early work.
| Bill Brownlee, Special to The Star