Slash feat. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, Foxy Shazam House of Blues September 9, 2012
Seeing Slash is actually a more value-packed way to get the Guns N' Roses experience here in 2012, a year that saw any hopes of any sort of band reunion sullied by a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction rant -- via letter -- by Axl Rose, the legal leader of the legendary hard-rock act.
Last night's Slash show began with a quick set from Houston's own Black Queen Speaks, who were snagged for the cherry opening slot by the influential guitarist himself. The band is no stranger to the House Of Blues stage, gracing the main hall numerous times.
Slash, joined by Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, perform nuggets from Slash's GNR days, their own material -- which stands on its own -- plus a few Velvet Revolver cuts. Like I said, you are getting your money's worth on a Slash show.
Foxy Shazam, direct openers for Slash and the Kennedy clan, were an odd fit for the bill. The GNR-hungry crowd seemed put off by the Shazam guys but I'm a fan and even I can say they are an acquired taste. They are a band that I want to see get huge, but I wish I knew how they could.
Lead singer Eric Sean Nally was creepy and annoying to your average Slash fan last night. Any other night on a younger bill, they kill. The group of folks next to me were thrilled when they announced their set was over.
Sold-out shows at the HOB have a special claustrophobia to them. You can't really move, you can't sit down, and everywhere you stand you are in the direct middle of human traffic. Luckily I got to park myself on the balcony for this one.
Kennedy and the band do a bang-up job as a proxy GNR and Slash looks no worse for wear, pacemaker and all. He hardly looks any different than he did in those MTV clips. Save for a bit of a paunch and some extra sweat, he looks like, well, Slash.
In some sort of cosmic mix-up, the guys that treated their bodies like toxic landfills, Slash and GNR bassist Duff McKagan, look miles better than Axl. Something something winning the war and losing the battle.
Kennedy's pipes handle Axl's lines with reverence without sounding like you're seeing a tribute act. Even the material that Slash and Kennedy have written isn't so bad, though it does quickly turn to generic mush whenever Slash doesn't throw gas on the fire.
Their set was heavy on GN'R breadwinners, trotting out "Rocket Queen" and "Nightrain" early on, and even ripping into "Civil War." They even managed to breathe new life into "Sweet Child O' Mine," which has slowly dissolved into an Archies song as things like American Idol and Glee have soiled it. For once I could hear it unsweetened, or without a fucking child's chorus.
The stuff from Slash and Kennedy's May disc Apocalyptic Love is better than it should be, but like I said it still gets boring at times. "Standing In The Sun" and "Halo" were standouts.
And yes, Slash also does Velvet Revolver songs with Kennedy.
I had somehow forgotten that Slash was even a part of that '00s radio-rock supergroup until I spied the band's logo tattooed on his right forearm. They ended up doing "Fall to Pieces" and "Slither" and for the third time in my life, I actually missed Scott Weiland. It's been too long since I saw him sputter and try to climb a wall in concert.
Also, Slash loves to jam. If he was anyone other than fuckin' Slash from Guns N' Roses it would be wonky and arrogant, but hearing the man pour blooze riffs from his fingers for minutes at a time is bittersweet. So many songs that could have been, but each night he consistently proves he's the one who really holds custody of the spirit of those GN'R songs.
Personal Bias: I have always loved Slash for what he has meant to rock guitar since Appetite For Destruction. Riffs really do flow through his fingers. You don't see guys who make it look effortless like he does much anymore.
The Crowd: Most of the crowd seemed to have been drinking since the Houston Texans kicked off their regular season at noon on Sunday. A lot of plump, yawning guys in JJ Watt jerseys. Other than that, it was a middle-aged rock show. At least no one saw fit to defecate on the floor like at the Cult earlier this year.
Overseen In the Crowd: Lots of youngins with their parents. I mean, some of these kids were born months before Chinese Democracy hit store shelves.
Random Notebook Dump: If you are a GNR fan looking for a more rugged and versatile experience with the band's catalog, pass up the theatrics of an Axl-led GNR show and see Slash. Chances are it's cheaper and you'll get your money's worth; last night's show started at 9:40 and let out around midnight.
SLASH SET LIST
Halo Nightrain (Guns N' Roses) Ghost Standing in the Sun Back From Cali Mean Bone (Slash's Snakepit) Civil War (GN'R) Rocket Queen (GN'R) Not for Me Doctor Alibi (bassist Todd Kerns on vocals) Out Ta Get Me (GN'R; Kerns) Carolina No More Heroes Starlight "Blues Jam"/Guitar Solo /Godfather Theme Anastasia Sweet Child O' Mine (GN'R) You're a Lie Slither (Velvet Revolver)
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Fall to Pieces (Velvet Revolver) Paradise City (GN'R)