The singers might change, but the top hat remains the same.
When guitarists from massive bands go out on their own, they tend to: 1. hook up with a new singer and form a whole new band that tries to capture the glory of the first (ala Slash hooking up with Scott Weiland in Velvet Revolver), or 2. bring in a slew of different singers to each deliver one or two vocals on mixed-bag albums (ala Slash's self-titled album in 2010), or 3. take over lead vocals themselves (ala Keith Richards on his albums with the X-pensive Winos; thankfully, Slash hasn't tried this yet).
At Slash's sold-out headlining gig at The Depot Saturday, the crowd got a whole lot of stunning guitar work, courtesy of the man whose named topped the bill, along with a solid singer in Myles Kennedy who did his best to navigate songs spanning Slash's career, from Guns 'n' Roses through Velvet Revolver and that solo Slash album from last year.
Ultimately, it was a fine rock show, even if Kennedy is a bit generic as a frontman; his voice is a pliable enough to handle the different songs Slash wanted in the set list, but he's not a unique force like Slash's former bands' frontmen. But the crowd on hand hardly minded, instead simply being thrilled with hearing Slash's Les Paul ringing out the solos and grooves from old GnR songs that most figured they might never hear again.
The show started with a few of Slash's solo tunes, including the opening "Ghost" and solid "Been There Lately." Slash was in classic form, keeping his iconic top hat on throughout the show, doing that sideways gallop to move across the stage and typically taking the center-stage spotlight at least once a song to knock out a solo.
Slash and his four-piece backing back got into his back catalog by the fourth song, a ripping version of Guns n' Roses' "Night Train," and the crowd responded with the loudest roar of the night so far. From there, Slash bounced back and forth between old faves and songs from last year's album.
The epic "Civil War" was a bold choice from the GnR era, pushing Kennedy to replicate everything from Axl Rose's banshee wail to a rapid-fire spoken-word ending on the anti-war tune that was always a bit of an anomaly in the Guns canon. "Rocket Queen" was likewise an unexpected treat, and Slash found time in the set to include Guns' favorites like "Patience" and a brilliant take on "Sweet Child O' Mine"--hearing him deliver that classic opening to "Sweet Child" made me recall just how special a band Guns n' Roses was during their heyday, blending pop candy like that with balls-out rockers.
Among the solo material that stood out were versions of "Back from Cali," which Kennedy sings on the album as well, "Beautiful Dangerous," "Starlight" and "Doctor Alibi."
In delivering 20 or so songs over the course of the show, Slash and Co. didn't skimp on the setlist, even including Velvet Revolver's "Slither" to the delight of many on hand. And if the show did nothing else, it was an emphatic reminder of what a ridiculous player Slash is. Here's hoping he finds another outlet that helps him show off the skills to an audience beyond the die-hards who have been following him for the past two decades. He deserves one.