Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Slash - House of Blues Chicago 2.13.2011

Oh, my, do I love a good rock show. This was a great rock show.

I was truly just at the right age to really get hooked by Guns n' Roses when they first hit the scene. I can't recall when Appetite for Destruction was released, but I certainly, vividly recall the first time I saw the "Welcome to the Jungle" video on MTV. Yeah, when MTV played music videos, so you know I'm old.

I've long held that "grunge," and that Seattle scene that spawned it, would never have come to pass without those five guys in L.A. getting together to form what was one of the greatest Rock bands of all time, and certainly recording one of the greatest Hard Rock albums ever. You can argue that they grew into something too massive for their own good, especially in Axl's case, but that first record was the true kick in the pants that people usually claim for Grunge.

I mean, it made rock dirty and dangerous again. Yeah, sure you had the glam hair-metal acts, but they'd sorta de-evolved into something that was just safe and calculated. Yeah, they kept up the "party all the time" image, but when you're slathered in make-up, and wrapped in a sequined shirt...it kinda loses the impact.

Gn'R brought something that seemed all too real, just on the edge of destruction, with the naked aggression of Rose, and the seemingly casual drug use of the entire band. The depiction of L.A. as a place, not with a vage "party" around every corner, but an insidious place where your soul was at risk. I mean, compare "Welcome to the Jungle" to "I Want Action, " or some other such nonsense. G'NR was living L.A. life to the fullest, and giving us an inside view of how it would chew you up and spit you out.

Anyway, what's past is prologue.

Slash is a powerful, and important, guitarist. He's not a technical wizard like your Steve Vai's or Joe Satriani's, and not one to really push the instrument, like Eddie Van Halen used to be. He's a bread and butter rock guitarist, with a strong thread of the blues all through his work. I find his playing rather inspiring for that reason. It's more about feel and groove than flying all over the neck.

If you haven't heard his solo album, it's a grab-bag. These sort of "______ and friends" projects always are. The chemistry with each of the vocalists can vary widely. I did feel they hit the mark more often than not. For the tour, Slash picked Myles Kennedy as the touring vocalist. His main gig would be Alter Bridge, who I like quite a bit. It's a solid band, and Kennedy can certainly sing everything that was asked of him during the show.

The Chicago House of Blues is a pretty great venue. It's fairly large, but still feels pretty intimate, and the decor is really nice. Sound is also rarely a problem. The main floor does get a bit of a "trampoline" feel when the crowd gets going, which is a little eerie, but it's also kinda cool.

Opening acts were certainly interesting. We started out with The Fabulous Miss Wendy, who was just a bit too calculated. She seemed almost like a cartoon character, changing clothes on stage, a kinda odd guitar intro to the set. Maybe that's her shtick, but I got a bit bored with it. A Led Zeppelin cover with no vocals is just kinda...Meh. At first it was just sorta like watching a trainwreck, but that only amuses for so long. She's not a terrible guitarist, but I think the sex-kitten act (she's got a song called "Fucked-Up Bitch, for God's sake), just undercuts any sort of respect in that area.

But then, I'm not opening for Slash at a major venue, what the hell do I know?

After Miss Wendy, we got Brand New Sin. What I can say is that these guys worked hard, and they really seemed jazzed to be opening for such a major act. That positive energy did come across, and I appreciated it. The problem is, their songs just aren't that memorable. Aside form one track, "Dead Man Walking," nothing hit my ear in a "I want to buy that record" way. That may be simply a question of taste, I'll admit, and they seemed like such decent guys I wanted to want to buy an album. Just didn't feel it. Maybe next time, guys.

It was around 10 PM when Slash and crew hit the stage. They started right out with the first track on the solo album "Ghosts," which Ian Astbury (The Cult) had cut vocals for. I dig that song a lot, but I think they could've found a better track to open with, as I think a lot of the crowd didn't know it. That was a bit of a recurring problem during the night. They really dug into the entirety of Slash's career, with some relative obscure cuts from the Slash's Snakepit albums which, especially the second, aren't hugely known. They really did hit everything, Gn'R, Snakepit, Velvet Revolver, even an Alter Bridge number ("Rise Today") and a Lenny Kravitz track ("Always on the Run") Slash played on. It was cool to see all that music, with no ego about "who's song" it was.

Of course, there was a LOT of Gn'R. They played about half of Appetite for Destruction, and "Civil War," which is certainly one of the better post-Appetite tracks. The "Rocket Queen" -which I had NOT expected to hear - into "Civil War" section was, truly, the highlight of the night. Myles Kennedy really nailed all of this stuff, I've loved his voice on record for quite a while, and it held up live. I am excited to see him with Alter Bridge in May, mainly because all of the stuff on Sunday was really in his upper register, and he has such a cool lower pitch voice, I really wanted to hear it.

I, once again, found myself wishing that Velvet Revolver could land Myles as a replacement for Scott Weiland. Ah, well...I guess they're set on Corey Taylor. (SHHHH! Don't tell anyone...)

The band, as a whole, was just tight and right in the pocket. Bassist Todd Kerns even stepped up to do vocals for "We're All Gonna Die" from the solo album, which was originally cut with Iggy Pop.

There was one nice, big surprise when Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick came on stage and joined the band for "Ain't That a Shame." Lots and lots of fun, Nielsen was his usual spastic self, all over the stage and egging the crowd on, throwing massive handfuls of picks. Pandemonium, Kennedy was laughing out loud during the entire affair.

It was a great time, but a long night. The band played for well over two hours, and by the time we walked back into our apartment, it was about 1:30 AM. Monday morning came awful quick, that's for sure.


1. Ghost
2. Mean Bone (Slash's Snakepit)
3. Nighttrain (Guns n' Roses)
4. Been There Lately (Slash's Snakepit)
5. Rocket Queen (Guns n' Roses)**
6. Civil War (Guns n' Roses)*
7. Nothing to Say
8. Back From Cali
9. Starlight
10. Always on the Run (Lenny Kravitz)
11. We're All Gonna Die
12. Ain't That a Shame (Cheap Trick-style w/Rick Nielsen)
13. Jizz Da Pit (Slash's Snakepit)
14. Just Like Anything (Slash's Snakepit)
15. Mr. Brownstone (Guns n' Roses)*
16. Sweet Child O' Mine (Guns n' Roses)*
17. Rise Today (Alter Bridge)


18. Slither (Velvet Revolver)
19. My Michelle (Guns n' Roses)
20. Paradise City (Guns n' Roses)*

* = Highlight number
** = Favorite number

1 comment:

  1. I think they closed with slither and did the two song encore. I got video of night train and rocket queen and mama said. It was a rockin fiesta and late night.
    good review