Slash leaves blood, sweat, and tears on the stage in Vancouver
Saul Hudson may well have the best retirement plan going since Mick and Keith figured out that they can charge $400 a head and still pack a stadium.
Better known by his childhood nickname, Slash—the man whose opening licks on Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” made top hats instantly cool again—is currently making a fortune doing the one thing in life he obviously loves more than any other: playing the guitar.
And that’s exactly what makes this legend’s new “solo” project work so damn well. Rather than pull a John 5 (whose fantastic work with Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie has failed to translate into independent success), Slash is playing shows off to the side, letting the gold mine of a find named Myles Kennedy perform vocals and hold down centre stage.
As displayed in all its epic glory at the Commodore last night (September 30), this is a formula that’s working. Slash can play the guitar better than almost any man on earth, so that’s what he’s doing.
The crowd that packed the room knew this, and they got exactly what they paid good money to see.
Sticking mostly to material from the self-titled album this tour is pushing, Slash sure as shit made his presence felt while letting Kennedy run wild with the mike. Bobby Schneck played his heart out on rhythm guitar, Canada’s own Todd Kerns jumped around with his bass, and Brent Fitz bashed away on drums.
Doubts about whether Kennedy can fill the boots of the 13-plus additional vocalists on the record were kicked aside before the chorus of the evening’s opener, “Ghost”.
And then there was “Starlight”, which had us all thanking Satan for giving us a power ballad; Kerns leading the audience through the roaring “Doctor Alibi”; and the damn-near-flawless instrumental “Watch This”, which, as Slash noted, the crowd definitely did “get”.
But as good as the material from Slash’s latest record is, the highlights of the night inevitably came with the few G N’ R tracks that every member of the band played with smiles bigger than a teenager busting a nut.
“Night Train” came first and possibly brought the loudest roars of the evening. That is until “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and the brilliant guitar solo it let Slash unleash. Though also in the running was the extended version of “Paradise City” that sent the crowd home floating off its feet.
If some cruel affliction (or just too much booze) forced you to forget all but one number from the night, what you’d want to take with you was a 10-minute-plus solo performance that came in the middle of the set. Slash smashed together the blues and hard rock to make a spectacular orgy of noise. Sweat poured like a waterfall from those trademark black locks onto his low-slung Les Paul, making one thing clear to everybody there: after more than 20 years on the road, Slash is still giving his fans everything he has and leaving it right there for them on the stage.
You can follow Travis Lupick on Twitter at twitter.com/tlupick.