Friday, February 22, 2019

Slash Feat. Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators @ Zénith, Paris - February 22nd, 2019

The evening had started off badly when the goons from security confiscated my little point and shoot camera, so excuse the quality of the pictures but they were taken with my phone…

But the reason the Zénith is sold-out tonight is because Slash is in town, and he brought his band the Conspirators with him, a gang of L.A. sleazeballs fronted by the congenial Myles Kennedy.

Why is Slash touring with these guys when he just got off a two and a half year tour with his main band, the partially reunited Guns N’ Roses? Did his divorce really clean him out? Or can’t he be trusted to stay idle, lest he regresses into his former bad habits? Or maybe it’s just that rock and roll is in his blood and that he just wants to play.

And play he does. It’s easy to see what this band has to offer that Guns can’t: these guys are pure hard rock with no frills. No piano, no progressive ballads… Just hairy, tattooed, sweaty dudes playing loud and dirty ass rock and roll like GN’R used to back in the Apetite era. 

Todd Kerns on bass is a great backing vocalist and a huge presence on stage. Brent Fitz is a solid, no-nonsense drummer. Frank Sidoris on rhythm guitar has perhaps the worst job: no matter how well he plays he is in a band with Slash. Myles Kennedy is a very engaging frontman and seems genuinely happy to be there. His voice is perfect throughout, a little more rasp couldn’t hurt perhaps…

And of course, the star of the band, its namesake… Slash. The greatest rock guitarist of the past quarter century. Half man, half beast. The motherfucker who made frizzy hair, top hats and Les Pauls cool again. Every time I see him I am awestruck at how well he plays. Not just how fast he can spit out those licks, but how lyrical his solos are. How perfect is his phrasing. How cool is his tone.

Now that Slash is playing with his old band again, there is no need for this outfit to play Guns N’ Roses material. They do play Nightrain but everything else is from the records they cut together and the audience responded very well to those tunes, some of which are almost a decade old already. Avalon, World On Fire, Back From Cali, Ghost, We’re All Gonna Die, Call The Doctor, Halo, Starlight and Anastasia were all greeted with cheers, roars, devil horns and headbangs as if they were classics. And actually, they are.

There's a whole generation of adults who weren't even born when the classic Guns N' Roses line-up was still around. These people grew up on Snakepit, Velvet Revolver and the Conspirators. We now have the best of both worlds: GN'R is back in an acceptable configuration, playing songs from the whole canon with a somewhat recognisable line-up, and Slash is also starring in his cool other band. The two aren't in competition, they're complementary. In fact one suspects that they'll feed off of each other. This is a great time to be a fan of Guns, Slash or rock and roll in general.

In the eighties, rock fans famously boycotted Mick Jagger's solo album for fear that its success might break up the Rolling Stones. Times have changed and the kids that are supporting them know that Slash feat. Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators is not a mere side-project. Rock and roll isn't a pet hobby, it isn't a career choice: it's their lives.

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