Slash, The Epitome of Rock!
Not many men can legitimately claim to be rock heroes, but Slash is certainly one of them. Thanks to his hard labour in Guns 'n' Roses, the seminal rockers band that not only put sex, drugs and dodgy hairstyles back into the charts, but fulfilled the Spinal Tap dream thanks to Axl Rose's kilt-wearing tendencies and much in-fighting. Slash has been there, done that, but doesn't feel like wearing the T-shirt. Bare-chested, cigarette hanging from lips, guitar balanced on his hip in its trademark upright position, Slash is the epitome of rock. And like any true star, he arrives late, building up the anticipation until the excitement in the air is unbearable. Wearing a leather top hat balancing on a mass of long, unruly hair that could only be acceptable on a man who can work magic with a guitar, he has charisma pouring from him, even as he finishes off a bottle of Jack Daniel's.
Since the untimely demise of Guns 'n' Roses, Slash has busied himself with a blues covers band and the tight and friendly Slash's Snakepit, in their second incarnation and here concluding the British part of a European tour. Singer Rod Jackson, all dreadlocks, dark glasses and throaty vocals, soon goes into stadium rock mode, running to the side of the stage, shaking his dreads fiercely, to be joined by Slash, who sings some harmonies, more for fun than effect. But while Jackson, and bass player Johnny Blackout, a Sid Vicious wannabe, do their best to entertain, it's Slash who remains transfixing.
The set is largely made up of songs from the new album, Ain't Life Grand, guitar workouts built around Slash's ability to strangle the life out of each note yet retain a pure melody and stunning grace. Been There Lately is real head-spinning rock 'n' roll with heavy riffs and even heavier drums, while Just Like Anything begins with a more challenging, subtle rhythm that's soon ravaged by more guitar gymnastics. This inevitably leads to an amp blowing up. "It was bound to happen," Slash smiles as he leaves the stage.
On their return, Slash's Snakepit resume their tour de force, the band watching in awe - and affection - as their leader roams the stage, stands on amps and does his mesmerising thing.
As Mr Brownstone, a Guns 'n' Roses favourite, is dusted down and kicked into life, everyone goes mad. Heads are shaken furiously as the soaring guitar reaches an ear-shattering climax. "We could just hang out all night," Slash concludes. And this night there's no better place to be.