Former Guns N' Roses/Velvet Revolver axeman Slash brought plenty of nostalgia to Talking Stick Resort Friday night, visiting the Valley for a one-off date in the middle of his North American Tour with Aerosmith. The 49-year-old still looks almost identical to how he looked in the '80s, still sporting his signature top hat and Gold Burst Gibson Les Paul. Another thing that hasn't changed is his history of having some of the best rock singers fronting his band, and Myles Kennedy is no exception, which was unquestionable from the opening lines of opener "You're a Lie."
The GNR classic "Nightrain" sounded great with Slash jumping around the stage with one foot just like he did back in the day. "Halo," from 2012's Apocalyptic Love, followed and didn't get as much rise from the crowd.
Note: It was after that third track that I left the photo pit I put my camera away and headed to the back of venue in my general admission seat that really meant I had to stand in the very back of the venue to review the show. However, I was informed that I wasn't allowed to have my camera bag in the venue, and I would have to dispose of it in my car and come back without it in order to review the show.
That process took nine songs.
Maybe at that point I should have taken a page from Axl Rose during the band's 1991 St. Louis show and said "Due to the lame-ass security I'm going home."
But that's why this review has a sizable gap.
When I returned to the show, I found out I missed covers of Guns N' Roses staples like "You Could Be Mine" and "You're Crazy," which featured bassist Todd Kern on lead vocals, the band was in the middle of and extended jam of GNR's "Rocket Queen." There is no denying that Myles Kennedy is one of the top vocalist in the active-rock game today, but onstage he is also very safe and predictable. And as far as a showman, he isn't even close to being on the same level of Axl Rose and doesn't have the charisma of Scott Weiland. What Kennedy lacks in rock 'n' roll showmanship, he makes up vocally, which may be more of what Slash is looking for in a singer after dealing with the baggage that came along with Rose and Weiland.
A highlight of the newer Kennedy material was the band's latest single "World on Fire," which was signature Slash guitar licks that didn't sound like they were dated from 20 years ago. At times it's hard to decipher Slash and Kennedy written songs from Kennedy's other band Alter Bridge.
The crowd erupted during "Sweet Child O' Mine," which was a little sloppy during the iconic guitar intro. To be fair, even in the original GNR days the band wasn't known for going out every night and putting on a historical show, due the heavy partying the band did in they heyday. But Slash has been sober for years now.
Kennedy may be a great cover singer for most of Slash's greatest hits, but his lower register on the Velvet Revolver track "Slither" was not in his wheelhouse and was the only Velvet Revolver played during the 20-song set.
The band left the stage and returned for encore and closer track "Paradise City," which concluded with confetti shooting out of cannons -- just like how the current version of Axl Rose's Guns N' Roses end their shows.
For as much as Slash says doesn't like to talk about Axl Rose or Guns N' Roses these days he sure likes to remind people who attend his shows why they are there in the first place.
Critics Notebook: Last Weekend: Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators at Talking Stick Resort on Friday, August 1.
Personal Bias: I've seen Slash and his current band a handful of times. I've seen the new Guns N' Roses, the original lineup twice. These guys were the ones who ever made me want to be in a band.
Overheard: "Myles sounds better than Axl." The Crowd: 40-plus male rockers, hair for days.
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