The Gig: Slash
Where: Kool Haus, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
When: 10 September 2010
In One Word: Awesome
I never imagined Iâd get the chance to see Slash in concert. Guns Nâ Roses first – and best – album Appetite for Destruction was released in 1987 when I was just a wee tot whose only musical penchant was the theme tune to Postman Pat. Unfortunately for myself and millions of other fans, GNâR lived up to the title of their debut and had long since imploded by the time the time I was old enough to see them in concert – and needless to say, I have no desire to see them in their current abomination. Slash was always the real star of GNâR. Sure, Axl had pipes, and the songs wouldnât have been the same without him, but it was Slashâs guitar work that made their sound so iconic. I was stoked about seeing Slash in concert tonight in Toronto and I wasnât the only one.
The Kool Haus was buzzing as fans whooped and hollered in anticipation to see the hatted one, but nobody was more enthusiastic than the group of girls who were at the front-centre of it all. As Slash and his band came on stage around 9.30, I found myself swinging around 360 in response to the noise coming from behind me in the photo pit as these girls at the barrier began screaming in excitement. They didnât stop screaming for the near 2 hour duration of the concert. It was great to see such enthusiasm, and most of the girls were so young that they probably werenât even born when GNâRâs last pre-Chinese Democracy album was released, 1993âs âThe Spaghetti Incident?â, which incidentally was also the last Guns album that Slash contributed to, having played a part in all the original five records. The ecstatic support from these girls did not go unnoticed by the band either, with lead singer Myles Kennedy giving them props at several times throughout the evening, and joking that, âyouâd think it was the Beatles on stage.â These girls were not the only young ones in the Kool Haus, as there were many sons & daughters tagging along with their parents, and plenty others there in their own groups, perhaps some of them becoming Slash fans after being exposed to his music in the Guitar Hero III video game. There were no shortage of older, grey-haired fans either, with the mixed audience and filled-out venue illustrating Slashâs maintained popularity and relevance.
Arms were raised and jaws dropped as Slash took to the stage, opening with “Ghost”, the first track from Slashâs eponymous debut solo album which was released this earlier year. Next up was âMean Boneâ, a Slashâs Snakepit song, but it was the first GNâR cover of the night, âNightrainâ, that really kicked things up a notch. The Guns Nâ Roses covers would prove to get the biggest reactions of the night, which was to be expected.
The first lighters/phones-in-the-air moment of the night came with the sixth song of the set, âCivil Warâ, which featured two great solos from Slash, as he rode his whammy pedal and unleashed some of his signature hard-rock blues bends for a classic American hard rock ballad. For a bit of fun, Slash played out that song with a dash of Hendrix. Another great demo of Slashâs outstanding guitar skills was given with âNothing To Sayâ, my favourite song of his new solo material and one which is a little heavier, with a riding guitar riff that Slash double-picked with aplomb. The biggest solo of the night came as Slash wailed the blues for a good ten minutes, playing all over his fretboard and leading into âThe Godfather Themeâ, which was a welcome inclusion to the setlist. Slash broke a string during this solo but it didnât stop him in his tracks, and he improvised to make up for the broken skinny E string before swapping guitars in the gap between his solo and the start of the Godfather, with the rest of the band rejoining him on stage for this song onwards.
âThe Godfather Themeâ was the perfect intro to one of the biggest songs of the night – âSweet Child O Mineâ. The noise inside the Kool Haus was incredible as everyone sung along to this classic Guns Nâ Roses song. Sure, it sounded a bit different with Myles Kennedy on the mic, but Kennedy performed well the whole night and is a strong singer. Slash whirled like a dervish as his Gibson Les Paul roared through his stack of custom-emblazoned Marshall amps, and that combination right there is one of the most iconic sounds in rock and roll: Gibson guitar + Marshall amps + Slash = the pinnacle of American rock guitar. It was an amazing moment to hear and see this live.
As Kennedy sung the lyric of âwhere do we go nowâ, it proved to be true because Slashâs final two songs of his set paled in comparison to that rock anthem. Ending their set with the Velvet Revolver song âSlitherâ was a bit of a muted end to proceedings, because well, VR were never that good and I quickly got tired of their sound… and how do you follow âSweet Child O Mineâ anyway? Well, how about a three song encore that started with âBy The Swordâ, another of Slashâs solo material, before going into a cover of Led Zeppelinâs âCommunication Breakdownâ and ending with Guns Nâ Roses other greatest song, the awesome âParadise Cityâ. Paradise City was the perfect send-off, and had everyone singing and bouncing along. Kennedy and Slash both thanked the crowd for their tremendous support before the five members of the band took a bow and said good night. As the fans lined up to exit the venue they reflected on what had just happened, with many smiling faces happy to have crossed a big name off of their music bucket list.
Â© Brian Banks, Editor, Music Vice
Pictures of Slash at the Kool Haus, Toronto: