In the past couple of years, it has become something of a golden goose/Holy Grail for music journalists to get behind shades of iconic former Guns N Roses and Velvet Revolver man Slash, with unveiled secrets some kind of vulgar currency that occasionally trumps what any words devoted to the living legend should be about. But live performances offer the perfect opportunity to focus solely on what matters – his music – and in that environment, Slash is still a king.
No matter how many skilled guitar-players you see at on live circuits or in studios, there are still few currently alive and working who offer anything like the effortless finesse that Slash manages every time he takes up his guitar. He makes his instrument purr, and though it sounds horribly cliched, his guitar genuinely feels like an extension of his body and his opportunity to say the only things that we as fans should want to hear from him. Fuck what drugs he took and fuck what he thinks of Axl Rose, because Slash makes mind-blowingly good music, and any danger of that being forgotten beneath a tabloid-level fascination with muck-raking is beyond intolerable.
A living legend in his own right, Slash wasn’t the only star of his set at this year’s Download, with now-regular collaborator Myles Kennedy once more proving exactly why Slash keeps coming back to him. Along with Chris Cornell (and perhaps Steven Tyler), the Alterbridge frontman is easily one of the finest rock vocalists currently performing, his soul-soaked voice suited to a variety of song types, packing emotion and power when required and utterly spell-binding. In him, Slash has undoubtedly discovered a singer capable of holding his own alongside his own technical ability, and in the wake of a resurgence in form from former ally Rose, it’s great to see Slash on stage with someone as strong as he was back in the day.
With Kennedy in front of him, Slash is free to prowl the stage, bouncing off his front-man, occasionally drawing focus away to remind us all who he is and just how much power he has, but equally at ease playing in the background with his excellent choice of back-up band – The Conspirators, who also played on brand new album Apocalyptic Love.
And though that album was only a week or so old by the time Slash took to the stage in front of a particularly muddy crowd who had braved the sludge to see an idol show his wares, to his credit Slash didn’t take the show as a chance to sell records, or push new single “You’re A Lie”. There was new material in there, and very welcome it was, but Slash knows exactly what crowds want, and he plainly recognises exactly where he has come from, painting a picture of his past, present and future in his song choices, and offering more to those in attendance than any cheap expose article you’ll ever find.
The Slash solo live show is now up to the very highest level, and it is a truly spell-binding experience to watch the great man swagger through old, iconic material like “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, “Slither” and “Paradise City” and captivating newer material like the wonderful “Star Light”, which is about the finest opportunity for Kennedy to show off his silver-lined vocals as possible.
- One Last Thrill
- Back From Cali
- Standing in the Sun
- Rocket Queen
- Mr. Brownstone
- You’re a Lie
- Sweet Child O’ Mine
- Paradise City