Slash: Live in California

Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators
Warfield Theater, San Francisco CA
October 18, 2015

By Dan Wall

Set List:  You’re A Lie, Nightrain, Avalon, Halo, Back from Cali, Wicked Stone, Too Far Gone, You Could Be Mine, Dr. Alibi, Welcome to the Jungle, Beneath the Savage Sun, Civil War, The Dissident, Rocket Queen, Bent to Fly, World On Fire, Anastasia, Sweet Child of Mine, Slither. Encore: Paradise City. Two hours, 10 minutes.

Slash has played some great shows at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco during his lengthy career. Three of his classic bands have appeared there over the past 30 years-the legendary Guns ‘N Roses, super group Velvet Revolver and his latest unit, featuring ace singer Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, a band that just might be the best (and one of the only) true rock and roll acts left that play this sleazy style of hard rock like it was their birthright.

At the Warfield this time out, there was long hair, black leather and miles of tattoos. There were scantily clad girls and plenty of booze. The music was loud, the crowd excited and the band energized. For over two hours, Slash and his sleaze merchants played the best of his solo catalog interspersed with a number of chestnuts from GNR and VR all played at an ear-splitting volume that pushed this show close to 10 on the entertainment scale.

The beefy guitarist, who just might follow singer Kennedy (who will go back to Alter Bridge next year) with a new tour of his own next year (if the rumors about the original GNR regrouping are true), still plays guitar like its 1986. Every single song included a fast, melodic solo, and some songs (like the 17-minute version of “Rocket Queen’) let Slash show off his chops in the spotlight while the band took a back seat near the amp line. Improvisation is definitely not Slash’s strong point, but the lengthy solo on this night was much better than the one I saw him do the last time out.

Kennedy is a true revelation. Everyone has heard him but many are still a bit clueless to the fact that this is also the singer from Alter Bridge and the guy who almost got the gig with Led Zeppelin. His voice is as strong as ever, and it’s shocking with all of the road work that he does that it still holds up. And he doesn’t exactly sing easy songs in a lower key-his voice soars over loud, heavy rock music put forth by guitarists like Slash and Mark Tremonti, his foil in Alter Bridge.

His main strength with this act is being able to ace the GNR tracks, something that would get him lit up by fans if he couldn’t pull it off. I happen to be one of the people who could care less if GNR reforms-I’d rather hear Slash and Kennedy continue with this act, doing new music and GNR classics without all the baggage that will probably surface during a GNR reformation.

The Conspirators are one of my favorite backing bands, and all three are key contributors to the onstage sound. Bassist Todd Kearns is a rock and a great back-up singer-he is trusted to sing lead on “Dr. Alibi” and “Welcome to the Jungle” while Kennedy drinks some tea. Drummer Brent Hinz is a longtime Hollywood sleazy-guy who hammers away happily, while rhythm guitarist Frank Sidoris has really grown into his role alongside one of his heroes-Slash even lets him play a solo every now and then.

The set list was a killer, with highlights a plenty: “Nighttrain” just kills with this band; “Sweet Child of Mine” still presents as one of the best rock songs of its time, while “Paradise City” is one big party and singalong rolled into one. The solo material is strong as well, particularly the crowd favorite “Anastasia,” and this band has definitely become tighter after spending most of the last two years on the road.

Slash is one of the most distinctive and influential guitarists in rock. This band lets him show off his history, play some great music and keep the 80’s era of classic rock alive. Slash is welcome back here anytime, whether he brings Mr. Rose along or not.