Concert Coverage: Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators W/ The Last International |Sound Academy

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Photography By: Raven Benwait

Words By: Gerrod Harris

Following the release of 2014’s World On Fire (you can read my review here), Slash has been touring with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators across the globe, along with their show opener, The Last International, and stopped in Toronto on September 23rd at the Sound Academy.

Taking the stage at roughly 8, The Last International began their set for a less than excited crowd. Their set, although only lasting a little more than half an hour, was great, which makes it rather unfortunate that they could only get what seemed like half of the audience to really get into their music. On the other hand, their style of politically charged protest music, with great emphasis on effect pedals (similar in the style of Tom Morello) made for an odd pairing at a Slash concert. Nonetheless, the band put on a highly entertaining set which consisted of only a few songs, each one packing a punch, and showcasing their versatility. Singer and bassist, Delila Paz, has a very melodic voice which adds direction to their riff based rock, and guitarist Edgey Pires tried his best to get the crowd cheering along by performing solos with one hand and using his pedal board for all that is was worth. Their set reached a climax during their final two songs, an acoustic cover of Neil Young’s “My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)” and then their explosive “1968” which ended with a building guitar solo which led to Pires tearing the strings off the neck and dragging the guitar off stage. While they may not have won over as much of the audience as they may have wanted, The Last International put it all out there and delivered a worthwhile set.

Guns N’Roses’ classic record, Appetite For Destruction, has long been one of my all-time favorite albums, and at one point, around the eighth grade, I would listen to it almost daily. Since then, I have been dying to see Slash live, but nearly each of his shows were nineteen plus events. Now, at twenty years old, and with the same admiration for Slash’s work throughout his career, especially his recent collaborations with Myles Kennedy, I could finally see one of my guitar heroes live. It goes without saying that my expectations were high, but I can happily say that Slash, Kennedy, and The Conspirators surpassed the bar I had set and put on a performance that I, and eighth grade me, thoroughly enjoyed. Kicking off their set with “You’re A Lie”, it was clear that the band was diving straight into a heavy, and hard rocking show, especially when they pulled out “Nightrain” for their second song. The nearly sold out audience was filled with a mixed bag of people; some were Slash super fans, while others were more of the traditionalist, original lineup Guns fans. Whichever side of the spectrum which you classified yourself in did not matter; after witnessing the raw energy and sheer unrelenting force in which the band performed just the first two songs, everyone was excited for what else was to come.

The set progressed and included a fair balance between more classic Guns N’ Roses tracks, none of which Kennedy actually had to sing, as everyone seemed to know all the words (including “You Could Be Mine” and “Civil War”), and material from Slash’s last three solo records. “Back From Cali”, the first track to ever see Kennedy duet with Slash, with the soulful, finger picked melody which is almost iconic by now, was performed with much grace and excellence. At about the halfway mark, Kennedy left the stage, allowing for bassist Todd Kerns to sing lead vocals over “Doctor Alibi”, normally sung by Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister. While he may not growl like Lemmy, he handled the song well. Immediately following the big rock ending used to conclude “Doctor Alibi”, Slash stood center stage and ripped into the iconic riff for “Welcome To The Jungle”, and everyone just about lost it. Kerns once again lead through the explosive rendition of the Guns hit. This was followed up by the haunting and very heavy “Beneath The Savage Sun” where Kennedy once again joined the band. Other highlights included the power ballad “Bent To Fly”, which was one of the few songs off of World On Fire which got nearly everyone singing along to the very catchy chorus, and an extended version of “Rocket Queen”, featuring a near ten minute guitar solo after the second chorus. Slash truly indulged during this solo. Of course each of the solos he delivered, of the over twenty throughout the night, were incredible and fiery, but this one was far more funky and bluesy, as opposed to most of the others where he placed more emphasis on shredding. By creating various peaks of intensity, and blending the previously mentioned styles with some abstract, but sophisticated noodling, Slash performed a remarkable solo which did not feel too drawn out, a common problem with extended solos.

How do you conclude such a high octane set? How can such an incredible display of musicianship be topped? The final four songs of their set, “Anastasia”, “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, “Slither”, and “Paradise City” did exactly that. During “Anastasia”, Slash wielded a double neck, twelve string guitar, one acoustic, allowing for him to perform the intro, and the other electric, which he used for the rest of the song. During the solo section, he extended it to include an excellent flamenco inspired solo on the acoustic neck, before jumping on the electric. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” was as you’d expect: amazing. Kennedy can clearly belt out classic Guns N’Roses songs with ease. His vocal range is probably one of the best in rock, possibly in all of the music industry, and song after song his voice remains powerful, never wavering. He may be missing the rough, punk quality found in Axl Rose’s voice, rather Kennedy is a much cleaner, more pristine, ultimately giving these classic tracks a slightly different tone. I did not expect to hear anything from Velvet Revolver, but again much like Rose, Kennedy takes on the track, “Slither”, originally sung by Scott Weiland, with a very different and more energetic tone at a higher octave. Leaving the stage, the band returned after a very short encore break to perform “Paradise City”. It goes without saying that this was an exciting affair all on its own, but following everything which led to this, it was the perfect song to go out with more than a bang. The song built up towards the final solo, performed at double the speed, during which two cannons launched red confetti across the audience as Slash finished one last solo behind his head, ending the incredible two hour set. Kennedy, aside from his ridiculously good voice, on two occasions stepped off the stage to shake hands with many members of the audience, giving them a grateful nod, adding a humble layer to his rockstar persona. Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators make for a fantastic band to work with Slash, on record and live. What matters most is that they are not a substitute to Guns N’ Roses, but rather they offer their own creative and musical experience, far from a gimmicky nostalgia act. Slash, behind his trademark hair, top hat, and aviators, just looks so damn cool; the way he leans back and just drops a solo with little effort, or how he jumps off the drum riser to signify the end of a big rock finish is eternally cool. Seeing him deliver classic riffs, along with newer material and intense solos, one after another is a spectacular experience. All in all, Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators put on an absolutely killer performance, one which I could find no faults with, giving Toronto the loud, bombastic, in your face hard rock we all hoped for, and then some.

The Last International:

Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators:

Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators Set List:

1: You’re A Lie

2: Nightrain

3: Avalon

4: Halo

5: Back From Cali

6: Wicked Stone

7: Too Far Gone

8: You Could Be Mine

9: Doctor Alibi

10: Welcome To The Jungle

11: Beneath The Savage Sun

12: Civil War

13: The Dissident

14: Rocket Queen

15: Bent To Fly

16: World On Fire

17: Anastasia

18: Sweet Child O’ Mine

19: Slither

20: Paradise City

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