Photos by Andrew Basso
Some names are just legendary. You hear them and you just know that what ever follows will be good. There is no question about whether a project or a show will be good. Some names can fill an arena without question. Slash is definitely one of those names. He has a reputation as one of the greatest rock guitarists of all times and that reputation is deserved. There are few who don’t know who Slash is. Initially rising to fame as the lead shredder in Guns ’n’ Roses, he has since embarked on a successful solo career, including some time in Velvet Revolver with the late Scott Weiland of the Stone Temple Pilots. His latest project is Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, and it was this band who he is currently touring Australia with. Myles Kennedy is a formidable front man in his own right, with a deep, soaring voice that immediately grabs attention. The band also features Todd Kerns on bass, Brent Fitz on drums and Frank Sidoris on lead guitar. All talented musicians with a long history making some great rock and roll. With one of the most famous lead guitarists of all time, famed for epic solos, rounding out the lineup it is no surprise this tour was anticipated with great excitement by fans. It is this excitement that is palpable as Margaret Court Arena starts to fill. The crowd is a wide selection of young and old rock fans keen for the show. The place fills quickly with both standing and seated sections packed with bodies. There is an energy in the air as we wait. When the opening band hits the stage they a greeted with a welcoming cheer from an audience ready to rock.
Devilskin is a four piece ‘alternative’ melodic heavy metal band from New Zealand. They immediately launch into their set no holds barred. The music is heavy and hard, with thrashing guitars and blasting drum beats. The kind of heavy you can mosh to. But there is a melody throughout that elevates the music, and a big part of that is the vocals. The band is fronted by Jennie Skulander who mixes clear soaring notes with dirty growls to create something unique and engaging.Her stage presence is mesmerising and he immediately connects with the crowd, whipping them in to a frenzy. The whole band are full of energy and that energy is infectious.They never miss a note, hammering home each song with drive and precision. Drummer Nic Martin pounds out beats furiously, his speed and timing both brutal and impeccable. Lead guitarist Tony ‘Nail” Vincent and bassist Paul Martin hit us with blistering riff after riff showing some amazing technical skills whilst engaging with the crowd. Each song is different but the set flows smoothly. The band take the time to talk to the crowd. Their set is tight and clean, years of professionalism shining through as they expertly own the stage. As the set goes on, the crowd are clearly won over. There is a small pit full of eager new fans yelling for more. It isn’t easy opening for such a famous act. But Devilskin nailed it. They leave the stage to thunderous applause.
The frisson of excitement in the air is palpable as we wait. We all came here for one thing, and it is close. The thing I love about hard rock and metal fans is their passion for the music and the way they express it so eagerly. This is what is happening as we wait, strangers chatting about the man that has drawn them here tonight. Then, that moment hits. The background music stops and the lights drop. As the band walks on stage the crowd goes wild. Then a figure in that infamous hat appears. As he hits that first note and the band kicks in, the crowd loses it. From that first note it is good. The music is hard rock played right. The overwhelming talent contained in the band flowing out gloriously. The music is high energy and rocks hard, the musicians full of energy and immediately play to the crowd. Kennedy’s vocals are en point tonight with each note perfect, but that dirty gruff tone weaving its way through like magic. Slash’s guitar playing proves why he is a legend, intricate notes interplay and he makes it look so easy. Each member holds their own and each song goes from strength to strength. What stands out though is the element of fun. The band are rocking out and clearly having fun. The set is expert and high energy. Slash often takes centre stage and wows the crowd with the kind of solos that has made him a household name. Kerns often plays top the crowd, pointing out audience members and working them into a frenzy. From the start the show is amazing and just keeps getting better.
What really stands out, and this should be no surprise, are the epic guitar solos. Here and there Slash wanders to centre stage and just lets it rip. His fingers faster than lightening, each note and riff played with both precision and flair. They go on for minutes at a time but the fans can’t get enough. It is electrifying. We can’t get enough and the legend keeps delivering. He proves that the guitar solo is an art form that he has mastered and taken to a whole new level, and we the fans are ecstatic to witness it. At one pint, Kennedy went up to the front barrier and signed a fans arm, sending everyone nearby into a frenzy. The whole show is a series of highlights from beginning to end. The set was over and hour and a half long but we were all so lost in the music it felt like it was over too soon. While we all enjoyed the original songs, a highlight was when they played the Gunners classic ‘Nightrain’ during which the audience went absolutely mental. This is the kind of show that is an experience. Its not about them playing that song, but about every note from beginning to end culminating in something special. It was about the music, and the music was epic! When they came out for the encore they were met by a level of excitement rarely seen these days. As they bowed good bye the crowd were begging for more. They whipped us up into a frenzy throwing guitar picks and drum sticks into the crowd. Fans of Slash became fans of the whole band that night.
This was the kind of hard rock show we rarely get to see any more. But last night Melbourne witnessed it in all of its glory. If you weren’t there, you missed out. This was more than a ‘gig’, this was an experience. The crowd rocked out to every song. If you can catch one of the remaining dates I urge you to do so. If we are really lucky, they will be back. Because that was a show worth seeing again and again. Talent of that level is rare and we got to see it up close. Slash is a living legend for a reason and he proved why last night. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators are an amazing band in their own right who rocked us hard. They prove real rock and roll is alive and well. The crowd left on cloud nine with memories we will never forget. It was truely a ‘not to be missed’ experience.
Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators