Anyone who knows me knows I bloody love anything musically related to Slash. Be it Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver, his recent ventures with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators or the more obscure stuff like Slash’s Snakepit, I love it. Naturally, when I heard news of an arena tour, my instant thought was “about time”.
Fast forward six months and the night in hand begins. After seeing him and his friends blow the roof off the O2 Academy with the new “World on Fire” material (yes, I was one of the lucky ones), I knew this was going to be good. However, there was the small matter of the support acts first.
Up first was Twenty Two Hundred. At least, I think they were called that, I couldn’t tell with the number of times the vocalist mentioned their name. Some people got behind the band as they played to a half-empty Hydro. Personally, I thought they were pretty dull and I gave them some polite applause, relieved when they left the stage.
Then, California Breed. Glenn Hughes’ latest project. Alongside him were former Queens of the Stone Age drummer, Joey Castillo and guitarist Andrew Watt. At least half the age of Hughes, he was touted by the frontman as the “white Jimi Hendrix”. No. He’s not. You could say he’s skilled with a guitar but talented like the legendary players? That’s a definite no. Then there was Glenn Hughes himself, howling his way through a short set, giving enough pouts to rival Mick Jagger but far more rigid in her performance. The singing was pretty cringe-worthy. I think I’m destined to see Slash with sub-par support acts while other places get Monster Truck, Halestorm or Tremonti. Though, Biffy Clyro when they supported Slash last month were pretty decent. I think those guys could go far.
Then, it was time for the main attraction. Slash, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators took their places, kicking things off with “You’re a Lie” before launching right into live staple “Nightrain”. Quite possibly, it was Myles Kennedy’s finest performance I’ve witnessed yet and that includes seeing him with Alter Bridge various times. Handling GN’R, his own efforts with Slash or Velvet Revolver’s “Slither”, it proves how versatile Myles’ voice is. His version of “You Could Be Mine” was far better than his attempt during last month’s Academy show. As has become the norm, bassist Todd “Dammit” Kerns took his own turn on vocals, singing his way through “Dr Alibi” and “You’re Crazy”, the former having been sung by Lemmy. And he does it just as well, if you can believe it.
Having been a bit stiff last month; this was a different story. This was band firing on all cylinders, coming to the end of the European leg of the current tour. It didn’t matter what was played, the songs went down a storm. Live staples like “Back From Cali” were met with equal cheers as new songs like “Too Far Gone”. Sadly my personal favourites from the new album “30 Years to Life” and “Wicked Stone” were omitted but I can’t complain with my other favourites like “Ghost” and “Halo” being performed.
Due to the extensive catalogue Slash and the band can pull from, Slash’s Godfather theme and the classical piece, the latter of which gave birth to the melody for “Anastasia” has been removed in recent years with him doing his own improvised solo before the bridge of “Rocket Queen”. Despite the length with Todd Kerns and Brent Fitz giving a solid rhythm during the process, it was entertaining to say the least.
Now, being the Hydro, I feel I must bring up the quality of the acoustics. Or should I say lack thereof, given the venue. The vocals during Twenty Two Hundred were non-existent; the drums took the hit during California Breed. As for Slash’s, to begin with, Myles’ vocals were too overpowering to begin with, Slash could have literally stood and not played a note and you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. Then Todd Kerns’ backing vocals eclipsed Myles’ lead vocals for the first half-dozen songs. By the end, it was passable and I could hear the full band but for a “state of the art” venue like the Hydro, it was sub-par, at best. But then again, since day one, it’s had acoustics which makes the notorious Hall 4 of the SECC (nicknamed the “cow shed”) sound good.
All being said, despite missing out on a couple of songs I would have liked to have seen live (there’s literally a different setlist every night) and naff acoustics; Slash, Myles and the Conspirators last night proved they deserve to be playing arenas. And in a year full of great performances from small and large bands, this was definitely the top of the list.