Published on September 20th, 2012 | by Phoenix1
Concert Review: Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, The Tabernacle Atlanta, 9/12/12
Like I discussed with Alanis Morissette last week, Slash is one of those musicians who has had quite the illustrious career. Starting out with Guns ‘N Roses in the late 80s and early 90s, he helped pave the way for the grunge movement that swept through in the mid to late 90s. He then formed the band Slash’s Snakepit, which was well received but flew under the radar, probably as a result of the band’s rotating cast of characters. Finally, he formed Velvet Revolver with many of the members of the original G’NR along with Stone Temple Pilots vocalist Scott Weiland, but that group fell apart in 2007 due to the ego-induced strife that often plagues supergroups. Slash finally decided he’d had enough of bands, and released an eponymous solo album with a bunch of singers making guest roles in 2010. He hit it off with one of those singers so well that he formed a touring band around him and recorded an album, Apocalyptic Love, with him that was released this past May. That singer is Myles Kennedy, whom fans of Alter Bridge will instantly recognize as their lead singer.
I had seen Slash & Myles one other time, on their tour behind the first solo album, in Norfolk, VA at the NorVA, so naturally, I found myself comparing this show to the last one. The openers were a band called City of Treason, who brought a lot of hard-rocking vibes to warm up the crowd, but were unfortunately limited by a problem that persisted throughout the entire set: the instruments were turned up so loud that it was difficult to understand anything the vocalist was singing. The bad mix, unfortunately, endured throughout all three bands that played. While I didn’t know any of City of Treason’s songs, they seemed to know how to work a crowd decently well, and I do want to look into them in the future (and may blog about them).
The second opener was Foxy Shazam, whose work I have a passing familiarity with. Their song, “Unstoppable,” is on one of my video games. Judging by that song, and their set, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then these guys must really love Queen. When I first heard “Unstoppable,” I honestly thought it was a deep cut from a Queen album. And the lead singer, Eric Sean Nally, can only be described as Freddie Mercury with ADHD. Most of the photos I took of him are as blurry as can be, because he simply would not stand still for any length of time. But boy, did Foxy bring the energy. They have a balls-out style that I admire, and I enjoyed their set. Some of the other songs they played were, “Welcome to the Church of Rock & Roll,” and “I Like It,” both of which I want to listen to the studio versions of.
Then, finally, Slash and Myles ripped into their set. They kicked off with “Halo,” a song from their new album. I’m not a huge fan of Apocalyptic Love, to be honest, because I feel like Slash is trying to make Myles into the next incarnation of Axl Rose on that record, but that’s not his style. I think Myles is the more talented vocalist, but his voice is more melodic and smooth and less staccato like Axl’s. But “Halo” was good. Other highlights from the new album included “Not for Me,” (which Myles said was “about an epiphany”) “Carolina,” and “Anastasia.” “You’re a Lie,” the first single from the album, went off especially well.
The inclusion of the new songs unfortunately meant that some of the G’NR covers and songs from the first album had to go, but the ones that were played were quite good. Myles sang his heart out on “Back from Cali,” hitting the high notes at the end of the song beautifully. That song and “Starlight,” from Slash’s first solo album (and played during the concert), really show off Myles’s voice as it is properly used, in my opinion. Myles can also give the right groove on Guns ‘N Roses songs, as he showed on “Rocket Queen,” “Sweet Child O’Mine,” and “Nightrain.” The duo even turned in two Velvet Revolver covers, “Slither,” and “Fall to Pieces,” with its amazing “falling bricks” guitar line.
Bassist Todd Kerns even got in on the act, singing on “Doctor Alibi” (from the debut solo record) and “Out Ta Get Me” (G’NR). Though the aforementioned mixing problem rendered his voice mostly unintelligible. Slash and Myles also traded solos in a bluesy jam they did, which I liked because it was a nice change of pace from the rockier nature of the rest of the show. Slash also performed his instrumental version of the Godfather theme, which has become a staple on his solo tours. The set ended with “Paradise City,” which was perfect to end on, because like “Sweet Child,” it’s one of those Guns ‘N Roses songs that meanders around after the first chorus or two, leaving plenty of room for Slash to throw in some improvisation and stretch out the song so the show could end on the highest of notes.
Overall, I enjoyed the show. Myles is certainly honing his frontman skills. When he plays with Alter Bridge, he usually plays guitar and sings, so his ability to work the crowd is a little more limited. But playing with Slash has allowed Myles to explore a whole new aspect of performing, and has made him a better musician in my mind. Slash, for his part, proved he can still bring it, having survived the horrible endings of two of his bands with his shredding skills intact. I still get wide-eyed and open-mouthed whenever he rips into one of his amazing solos. I probably enjoyed the NorVa show a bit more because of the mixing issues, and the inclusion of more songs I enjoyed and was more familiar with (which the band couldn’t really help, I guess… the Norfolk show even included an Alter Bridge cover!), but I’d still give this show a solid 8/10.