By Martin Popoff
Made in Stoke 24/7/11
God love Slash — he’s just an old classic rocker, and he’s never changed his spots. Sure, he got lucky with the overrated Guns N’ Roses, but he continues to rock ’cause he wants to.
Now, Slash is a revered guitarist, and if I had to struggle to surmise why, it wouldn’t be because there’s anything special about the riffs he writes or the solos he composes or tosses off spontaneously … however he does them. It’s all traditional, Aerosmith-derived meatloaf rock without much brains beyond sculpting the blues into something interesting. No, if there’s magic, it’s in his tone, his intonation and definition and his sixth-sense execution of the ordinary. Or, to be kind, it’s that whole, “he plays guitar like it’s an extension of his body” thing. And I love how his band is a blended average of similar Strip-trampling rock dogs — sorta any one of them could’ve been a Gunner, particularly Todd Kerns and Brent Fitz, good ol’ glamsters with earnest enthusiasm.
But almost more important than the banjo player is vocalist Myles Kennedy (Mayfield Four, Alter Bridge, plus tied up in those Zep rumors), who twangs like Axl and Glenn Hughes and bluesy inflects like Paul Rodgers (or Richie Kotzen). And so the team attack serviceable Slash solo songs, G N’ R songs, Velvet Revolver, over two CDs of average, intentionally raw recording, plus a short DVD, all packed in a very nice, fat digipack, with poster. (OK, but who ever unfolds these CD posters?)
The DVD helps the experience, actually, raising the thing above an LA Guns or Faster Pussycat live joint. The band looks great, poses great and is captured in sharp focus and bright colors in a plush theater setting — clean stage, nice clothes, very tasteful dirty hair metal, if there’s such a disposition. Plus, this is where you really get to feel the brush and scrape of each note Slash hits, and that really electrocuted, captivating tone that is his alone. The affectation of Myles’ uber-twang can get a nose-wrinkling, but he’s a great frontman, taking the foot off the pedal of messianic just as you go, ‘Wait a minute…?!’ The interview is cool, too, with Slash distinguishing smartly between this bunch of dudes and “Slash’s Snakepit,” as if it really matters (I guess it does).
— Martin Popoff