It's all eyes on the man in the hat. Who'd have thought that Saul 'Slash' Hudson, the big-haired, bicep-flashing axe-wielder from that band we used to love, would go on to experience something of a career revival, not once, not twice, but three times after parting ways with Guns N' Roses singer Axl Rose?
Uh, everyone, I'd imagine. After all, Slash was always the smart one, right? The cool one. And, most importantly, one of the nice guys. For a start, the man is certainly punctual, arriving on stage at 9pm on the dot (that's Slash 1, Axl 0... if anyone's keeping score).
An enormous banner reminds us that this isn't just a solo gig. It's 'Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators'. Because that's how Hudson rolls these days. And that's Myles out in front, giving it socks behind the microphone. Nice effort and all, but look at Slash go, still ploughing ahead with that trademark, hopscotch bounce of his. What a guy.
There's a lot to pack in, so the boys keep chit-chat to a minimum. Now on his third 'solo' album, Slash (49) takes care of the riffs, breakdowns and bravado while a shrieking Myles (a wind-up Axl, only, a lot more likeable) and The Conspirators play the part of world's most loyal backing band.
There are a few surprises - some good (plenty of Guns N' Roses in there), some bad (ah lads, keep bassist Todd Kerns away from the microphone). True, Slash and the gang occasionally lose their way (there are only so many directions you can take with hard rock) and we could have done without that relentless, instrumental jamming session in the middle.
But my, do they deliver where it counts. A pulsating World on Fire is one of the stronger newer numbers, Velvet Revolver's Slither sounds better coming from these guys and those classic, late 80s cuts (Nightrain, Sweet Child O'Mine, Paradise City) prove, once and for all, that the real power in Guns N' Roses was always down to Slash's distinctive, balls-to-the-wall fretwork. Oh, and there's no November Rain (we've enough of that outside, cheers).
Sure, every now and then, it threatens to descend into parody (careful with the hair tossing, fellas, you wouldn't want to get whiplash), but for the most part, it's a phenomenally tight and hugely effective rock show, with a superb guitarist at its centre.
What's more, these guys actually seem to like each other. Nice to see that someone is still having an absolute riot with the old songs, too. hhhii