Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, Manchester - review

Slash still cuts an iconic figure
Slash still cuts an iconic figure
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Rock god Slash launched his UK tour with an electric and energetic performance in Manchester last night.

The Guns N' Roses guitarist, performing with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, blazed through a breathtaking, blistering, brilliant two-hour set to thrill thousands of fans inside the Apollo.

There were fist-pumping anthems, soaring rockers, emotionally-charged ballads - and, of course, those distinctive, rich guitar solos which helped launch him to stardom.

Fans have been smacking their lips this week after the American revealed GNR were "hoping to put a new record out" - Slash's last album with them was in 1993.

But he has been prolific as a solo artist and with side projects over the years, recording eight albums - including three with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators.

And the most recent of those - last year's Living The Dream - made up a third of this setlist (there was only one GNR track).

It was a powerful performance from the start.

My Antidote, with its edge verses and punchy chorus, was a highlight of the opening whirlwind and they gave a stirring, live debut to Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

Slash has been performing for more than 30 years and with his hat, black curly locks, and sunglasses, he cuts an iconic figure. The only difference is he no longer has a cigarette hanging from his mouth - indeed, he appears to have swapped his pack of 20 for a six-pack!

But it is his music which makes him such a commanding presence. This was certainly no one-man show, though.

The Conspirators are a tight band and in Myles Kennedy, they have an accomplished singer who blends well with Slash's rich tones.

Indeed, the same way a guitarist can change his sound with a touch of a pedal, Kennedy's dynamic vocals can rise a few levels for melodic and catchy choruses. It is evident most in Lost Inside The Girl, switching from a low, almost-haunting tone to a high, hook of a chorus.

Midway through the set, bass player Todd Kerns takes the mic' for two ballsy renditions of songs from Slash's solo album, We're All Gonna Die and Doctor Alibi, dedicating the latter to the memory of Lemmy - .his old Motorhead bandmate Phil Campbell was the opening act.

Kennedy returned for the blistering home-straight, which included Wicked Stone - and a compelling extended guitar solo from Slash which had everyone spellbound. His fingers danced masterfully across his Les Paul fretboard, making the strings sing, and at the end - when he had every right to take a break or have a drink - he began racing around the stage, effortlessly thundering out more riffs and licks!

And just when it appeared the night was going to finish without any GNR songs, they broke into Night Train - from their blockbuster debut album Appetite for Destruction - which produced the loudest cheer of the night.

But if anyone was disappointed there weren't more from the GNR catalogue, they disguised it well - and there were smiles all round as Driving Rain and Starlight, two monster songs, helped round off a memorable night.

Their UK tour moves on to Glasgow tonight (Sunday), Doncaster Dome on Tuesday before finishing at London's Eventim Apollo on Wednesday.