The banner atop the stage during Thursday night's tour-opening performance said it all. In size-72 font was the billboard for monosyllabic lead guitarist Slash, followed by a colorful size-48 font promo for his current lead singer-collaborator, Myles Kennedy. Below Kennedy's name, in 12-point font was the name of their touring rhythm section, the Conspirators.
For their part, the Conspirators were a capable and enthusiastic group, tearing through a 19-song set that showcased Slash's solo material and his work withGuns N' Rosesand Velvet Revolver equally. Bassist Todd Kerns brought a particularly high-octane stage presence to Rams Head Live, working every part of the stage and providing standout backing vocals for the golden-piped Kennedy. Kennedy, too, was game. The 42-year-old rock veteran's octave-scaling range was on full display throughout the evening.
That said, the setlist, the songs and the crowd reinforced what the sign suggested: this was a Slash concert. The crowd consisted mostly of fans who were around during Slash's heyday and beer sales were no doubt brisk for this distinctly "of age" demographic. When the band took the stage at 9:45 (more than two hours earlier than Axl's Guns N' Roses showed up for their recent set at the Fillmore) 1,800 beery fans popped for Slash, who appeared in full regalia, wearing all black with his trademark long curls and tophat. Slash's post-Guns song catalogue are all distinctly Slash, highlighted by recognizable bluesy guitar solos played atop fast-paced, straightforward rock riffs.
While the crowd cheered enthusiastically for each portion of the 19-song, 100-minute set, "Night Train," the first of five Guns songs, got the most bodies moving. Kennedy, who at this point probably possesses greater vocal ability than Axl, hit every note of the Guns songs. However, his clean-throated high-range is in stark contrast to Rose's raspy yowls. Songs such as "Night Train" and "My Michelle," which tell tales about a seedy underworld of booze, drugs, and prostitution, don't have the same dirty feel with Kennedy's crisp vocal delivery.
Also interesting is the fact that the set pays nearly equal homage to Velvet Revolver as it does to
For their part, the sold-out crowd responded enthusiastically all night. They were there to see a Hall of Fame guitarist, and even when his guitar died during "Back to Cali," forcing the band to hit rewind and restart, he did not disappoint. A few times during the cover-heavy set, Kennedy looked like he didn't want to be playing the replacement rock star the way he did in the movie "Rock Star." During "Sweet Child of Mine," he incited the crowd to do the wave with more than a hint of detached irony. Still, as the confetti rained down during closer "Paradise City," Slash had put on another great rock show and Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators proved worthy touring partners, if not peers.
Mean Bone (Snakepit)
Dirty Lil Thing (Velvet Revolver)
Night Train (Guns 'n' Roses)
Rocket Queen (Guns 'n' Roses)
Back From Cali
Sucker Train Blues (Velvet Revolver)
Standing in the Sun
Fall to Pieces (Velvet Revolver)
Speed Parade (Snakepit)
You're a Lie
My Michelle (Guns 'n' Roses)
Just Like Anything (Snakepit)
Sweet Child of Mine (Guns 'n' Roses)
Slither (Velvet Revolver)
By the Sword
Paradise City (Guns 'n' Roses)