Photo by Dan Savoie
With nothing to prove and a whole lotta time to actually enjoy what he does, former Guns N’ Roses axe hero Slash pulled into Toronto’s Sound Academy for an evening of music spanning his infamous career. The guitarist sported his trademark top hat and a bright red muscle shirt which featured what looked like a Coca-Cola logo, but in reality was a design with the words “Enjoy Vagina”. He was in top form as he roared through solo material, Guns N’ Roses standards, some Velvet Revolver nuggets and even a Slash’s Snakepit rarity for the diehards.
His band, now called Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators, is a top notch unit headed by the powerhouse vocals of Kennedy, also features some bass and vocal work from Canadian rocker Todd Kerns, who some might remember as the leader of Saskatchewan outfit Age of Electric. Kennedy is by far a better choice than Axl Rose could ever be at this point in time. His vocal approach resembles a younger Rose, but with more clarity, less attitude and zero interest in showing up late. That’s probably why Slash ended up with Kennedy fronting the band. It was actually nice to hear the GNR classics sound better than what Axl and the boys pulled off on their last trek through Canada. While Axl spent more than 10 years making the Chinese Democracy album, Slash was out making music and some new friends like Kennedy, who seems to be more interested in the music than the drama.
Slash was in top form with his guitar solos sounding sharper and slicker than ever. While some guitarists peak at a certain level, Slash gets better with age – almost like an old bluesman. And he certainly looked like he was having a good time – physically he looked like he’s in great shape with his thick arms sticking out of his muscle shirt and even going so far as leaping in the air a few times. It’s amazing what a healthy environment can do to a performer. A man who was once found close to death lying on a sidewalk while in Guns N’ Roses, finally looked like the proud rockstar who brought us such air guitar classics as Sweet Child O’ Mine and Civil War.
It was shoulder to shoulder as fans sang their way through about a dozen Slash solo tracks and a half dozen GNR classics with an absolute frenzy by the time those famous notes started Sweet Child O’ Mine. For about two hours fans swayed, sang and stood really close to their neighbours for a chance at getting close to the Rock And Roll Hall of Famer. And under no circumstances did he disappoint, show up late or leave early. He came, he saw and he conquered Toronto on this September evening.
Opening the show were Fozy Shazam, a band that sounds a lot like Queen, but acts like one giant joke. Musically the band is quite good and they’ve got the skills and chops to gain both radio play and concert crowds, but it’s the ADD hyperactive nonsense that had people talking. From crowd surfing with keyboards in hand, to smoking and eating cigarettes, the overly anxious band came on the stage declaring that they were the best band in the world. They were good and extremely entertaining (in a Howard Stern kind of way), but best in the world…. Nah, I can’t go there…