Friday, July 13
As much as I am a fan of Guns N' Roses, I've never had much interest in seeing the band members play in their various solo projects until I caught the Audience Network's special Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy Live: Made in Stoke, on a channel-surfing expedition one recent afternoon. Even in glaringly vivid HDTV, Slash and, most important, that irreproducible guitar tone were still as magical as ever, and persuaded me to check out his current live show.Moved from the Paramount to the Showbox SoDo a few days prior, the show drew a room full of sweaty devotees. I took it as an opportunity to chat up other fans, and made the conversation of the evening: "What, realistically, would you pay to see the original line up of Guns N' Roses together again?" The question brought up tons of nostalgia and the realization that, when it comes to Slash and Axl, you may as well be embroiled in a political debate. The answers ranged from "I would never give Axl Rose a nickel" to "In a venue this size? $1,000." The median figure, though, turned out to be around $300 and tugged at my heartstrings, as everyone I quizzed talked about the band in the kind of voice a kid uses when wishing their parents would just get back together. Considering the show had been moved to a smaller venue and Axl's version of Guns had to put their tickets on Groupon back in December when they visited KeyArena, it's hard not to think these guys and their devoted fans would all be better off if they could just get along. The fans want the same thing a kid would want from their divorced parents: Just get it together, put egos and hurt feelings aside, and show up for us because we love them.
Not that it took away from the evening. Slash and his perfectly pleasing backing band gave the people what they wanted, peppering the set with GN'R classics and hits from other projects. My biggest surprise of the evening came from vocalist and Spokane native Myles Kennedy, who easily sailed through all those notes Axl could hit in 1987 with a raspy fluidity. His voice isn't a Rose knockoff, however. Its bluesy intonation is more reminiscent of other '80s artists like Jeff Keith of Tesla. Equally impressive was the elegance with which Kennedy conveyed someone else's material, knowing every song from the GN'R catalog would be sung at full volume by the crowd anyway. As ably as Kennedy held it down, it was the man in the top hat who steered the musical ship, keeping his set tight and his solo--which melded in the Godfather theme--wank-free. He is still one of the those guitar players for whom the term "effortless" seems an understatement. His guitar is not an instrument but an appendage, and seeing him play live leaves no doubt why he is ranked with the greatest guitarists of all time.
The night ended with a crowd-pleasing encore featuring Duff McKagan on bass, Slash without a shirt, and ejaculating glitter cannons during "Paradise City." Slash and Duff still manage a magnetic stage presence that transcends the novelty of seeing them together. If I were Axl Rose, I wouldn't want to get up and stand between those two guys either. Both of them look like the '90s never happened, and they are still capable of inducing that feeling of . . . oh . . . I don't know . . . wanting to lick the sweat off their respective stomachs. Given their ages and legendary lifestyle choices, that is a pretty freakin' impressive feat.
One Last Thrill
Nightrain (Guns N' Roses song)
Standing in the Sun
Back From Cali
Rocket Queen (Guns N' Roses song)
Nothing to Say
Out Ta Get Me (Guns N' Roses song) (Todd Kerns on lead vocals)
Mr. Brownstone (Guns N' Roses song)
Guitar Solo / Godfather Theme
Sweet Child O' Mine (Guns N' Roses song)
You're a Lie
Slither (Velvet Revolver song)
It's So Easy (Guns N' Roses song) (with Duff McKagan)
Paradise City (Guns N' Roses song) (with Duff McKagan)