Sydney Entertainment Centre – Saturday August 25
“Rock and roll will save yer soul – let it in!” Rose Tattoo frontman Angry Anderson told us early in the night like a pub rock preacher delivering a sermon. If that made the Ent Cent a temple tonight, it was one built on pillars of red-blooded riffs, shredding solos and sweaty, fist-pumping anthems delivered at maximum volume. Or in Slash’s simple terms – “R’n'F’n’R” (we’re sure you can figure it out).
And yet in many ways, in line with the axeman’s no-nonsense work ethic, the show’s about getting back to rock’s roots and sheer primal power, free from fancy video screens, pyro tricks, elaborate stage set-ups and other gimmicks (well, bar the awesome glitter cannons for the finale).
The disciples came in droves early, lining up from midday for prime position in the pit. A sea of black tees, tattoos, piercings, leather pants, top hats and old Gunners shirts, they ranged in age and experience – from those about to rock (dads and kids in matching Slash shirts were especially cool) to those who’d rocked more times than they could remember.
Aussie rockers Rose Tattoo, who’ve both inspired and mentored Slash since his formative days, were the perfect primer for the night. Despite not playing live much (Angry’s been busy with politics and TV shows lately), the band rolled in like a well-oiled tank armed with their gutsy blues-laced riffs and Angry’s signature wail. Between hits like ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw’, ‘Bad Boy For Love’ and ‘We Can’t Be Beaten’, Angry preached some more, espousing declarations like “Brothers and sisters! Live every day like it matters… Don’t waste a precious second” and “To freedom – be prepared to pay the price!” as he toasted with a slug from a bottle of red.
“Alright Sydney, are you ready to rock and f—ing roll?!” boomed an unseen WWE-like voice as Slash, singer Myles Kennedy and their new band The Conspirators took the stage, a huge backdrop of the album art for new album ‘Apocalyptic Love’ towering behind them. They opened with new track ‘Halo’, now-permanent frontman Kennedy out front flanked by guitarist Frank Sidoris and bassist Todd Kerns (both of whom could have stepped off the Sunset Strip circa 1988). And there was Slash in trademark top hat and leather pants, ripping it up through the solo, guitar held upright with his boot up on the feedback monitor.
Then we were off, jumping aboard the Guns ‘N’ Roses anthem ‘Nightrain’ with Myles nailing it with all the necessary Axl-lent overtones to the crowd’s obvious pleasure. It was the first of many Gunners classics tonight with ‘My Michelle’, ‘Rocket Queen’ and ‘Out Ta Get Me’ (sung by Kerns) also featuring. (Interestingly, all of the Gunners moments came from ‘Appetite For Destruction’.) In amongst it, the band blasted through choice cuts from Slash’s back catalogue including ‘Beggars & Hangers-On’ from Slash’s Snakepit, ‘Slither’ and ‘Fall To Pieces’ from his days with Velvet Revolver and highlights from his latest two albums with ‘Ghost’, ‘Back To Cali’ and new one ‘Standing In The Sun’ shining brightest.
A rollicking bluesy jam slowed the tempo a little, before Slash’s well-known solo rendition of the ‘The Godfather’ theme sliced through the Entertainment Centre, showcasing his extraordinary virtuosity. Then it was time to put the peddle down as the band tore through Gunners’ immortal hit ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ and ‘Slither’ and closed with an epic rendition of ‘Paradise City’ which had the whole arena singing as one.
At the bridge, air cannons filled the air with flashing pieces of glitter raining down on the stage and the crowd. Shirtless by now and covered with glitter, Slash looked like he’d had a fight with a disco ball and won. “Did you have a good f—in’ good time or what, Sydney?!” Kennedy asked the audience and the response left no doubt about the answer. Indeed, judging from the exultant chatter and wide-eyed looks afterwards, tonight bordered on a near-religious experience for many.
Luckily, with Moshcam filming the whole show, we’ll all be able to relive it again very soon. Stay tuned for more information, people.
Halo / Nightrain / Ghost / Standing in the Sun / Back From Cali / My Michelle / Beggars & Hangers-On / Not for Me / Rocket Queen / Doctor Alibi (Kerns on vocals) / Out ta Get Me (Kerns on vocals) / Crazy Life / No More Heroes / Starlight / Blues Jam / Godfather Theme / Anastasia / Sweet Child O’ Mine / You’re a Lie / Slither / Encore: Fall To Pieces / Paradise City