Slash at Kool Haus, Toronto – Concert review and exclusive show photos

September 11, 2010

Slash performing at Kool Haus, Toronto, 10 September 2010 - photo by Brian Banks, Music Vice, all rights reserved

The Gig: Slash
Where: Kool Haus, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
When: 10 September 2010
In One Word: Awesome

I never imagined I’d get the chance to see Slash in concert. Guns N’ 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, GN’R 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 GN’R. Sure, Axl had pipes, and the songs wouldn’t have been the same without him, but it was Slash’s guitar work that made their sound so iconic. I was stoked about seeing Slash in concert tonight in Toronto and I wasn’t 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 didn’t 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 weren’t even born when GN’R’s last pre-Chinese Democracy album was released, 1993’s “The Spaghetti Incident?”, 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, “you’d think it was the Beatles on stage.” 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 Slash’s maintained popularity and relevance.

Arms were raised and jaws dropped as Slash took to the stage, opening with “Ghost”, the first track from Slash’s eponymous debut solo album which was released this earlier year. Next up was “Mean Bone”, a Slash’s Snakepit song, but it was the first GN’R cover of the night, “Nightrain”, that really kicked things up a notch. The Guns N’ 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, “Civil War”, 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 Slash’s outstanding guitar skills was given with “Nothing To Say”, 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 “The Godfather Theme”, which was a welcome inclusion to the setlist. Slash broke a string during this solo but it didn’t 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.

“The Godfather Theme” was the perfect intro to one of the biggest songs of the night – “Sweet Child O Mine”. The noise inside the Kool Haus was incredible as everyone sung along to this classic Guns N’ 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 ‘where do we go now’, it proved to be true because Slash’s final two songs of his set paled in comparison to that rock anthem. Ending their set with the Velvet Revolver song “Slither” 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 “Sweet Child O Mine” anyway? Well, how about a three song encore that started with “By The Sword”, another of Slash’s solo material, before going into a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown” and ending with Guns N’ Roses other greatest song, the awesome “Paradise City”. 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.

© Brian Banks, Editor, Music Vice

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Brian Banks

Editor and Founder, Music Vice Magazine. Writer. Photographer. Poet. From Scotland. Not Ireland. Proudly based in Toronto, Canada. Rock N' Roll Don't Pay The Rent... 

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6 Responses to Slash at Kool Haus, Toronto – Concert review and exclusive show photos

  1. D.K. on September 11, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    Awesome show. My first time seeing Slash live. I took my son too and after seeing the glint in his eyes I think I know what he’s getting for Christmas this year- a real guitar to replace the plastic one with buttons!!

  2. stephen on September 12, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    sir, let me first say great review! It’s to a “t” everything I’ve been telling everybody I’ve been talking to since friday night. About the show, all I can say is I am still there in my head, because I just can’t get what I saw out of my head! I grew up hearing guitar my whole life (my father used to play me to sleep every night of my childhood). When gnr were together it was Slash that I idolized. This is the first time I have ever seen him live and thank god it wasn’t with vr or gnr. This was a real opportunity to see what he is capable of, and oh my F’N god he has made me certain he is one of the best in the world. During that 10 to 15 minute shredding of his extension (I call it that because it might as well be one of his limbs) I looked around the crowd and saw people literally shaking their heads and their eyes bulged out of their heads. I assure you that mine were too. I’ll sum this up by saying I never thought in my life I would ever see someone play guiter like that live, nor did I think someone actually could, and what a great venue to play in too. If you missed the show all I can say is you totally missed out, but he did say he will be back next year!!!!!!! and on that note SO WILL I.

  3. grant ivens on September 12, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Hey Brian,

    an excellent review and set of photos from what was truly a musical treat! who’d have thought that we catch Slash in a club show with a better than GNR band… it was an amazing show and I have total respect for Myles vocals, he killed!

    And Slash has unlimited strength with some of the hardest hitting and fastest fingers hitting a Les Paul ever… and the Zep cover smoke…

    And we can’t forget the rest of the band… a solid Canadian pocket that held the groove and put it in our face…

    I’m so glad I got to take in all 2 1/2 hours of solid rock history…

  4. dpa on September 13, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I was there too. I’ve waited 5+ hours to get him to sign my book and 3+ hours to see his interview at Canadian Music Week, but this was the first time I actually got to see him play live. It was awesome.

    And p.s., in Civil War Slash rides the WAH pedal, not the Whammy pedal, but hey, who’s counting haha

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