Friday, February 27, 2015

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t terribly excited to be reviewing this gig. In a night of tight leather, black hair, wailing vocals and shredding guitars. Slash ft Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators and supporting Steel Panther brought the essence of the 80’s hard rock and metal scene back to life, even if was just for a few hours.

The diversity in the crowd quckly became apparent as soon as I walked inside the Hordern Pavillion, and took a place next to a father with his 7 year old son, and a 50 year old woman wearing a Velvet Revolver

Steel Panther took to the stage, and instantly launched into ‘Pussywhipped.’  Vocalist Michael Starr strutted around the stage, posing for photographers with cheeky arrogance. “Are you ready to fucking party?!” he asked once they finished, to a roar of approval from an already hyped crowd.

Before launching into ‘Party Like Tomorrow is the End of The World’ bassist Lexxi Foxx pulled out a hot pink mirror adjust his makeup and apply some more hairspray, a habit that he would continue for the rest of the set, even mid-song. Over on the other side of the stage guitarist Satchel adjusted is floor fan, which I can I only assume was there to not only keep him cool, but make him look cool.

“What I love about Australia is how hard you guys rock, you guys rock harder than anywhere else in the world!” Satchel declared, to the audience’s approval.
“I thought you said New Zealand rocked the hardest?” Foxx interrupted
“Shut the fuck up! Don’t listen to him guys, he’s slightly retarded, I mean look at what he’s playing, he can only figure out four strings.” Satchel snapped.

Continuing a few more songs, Satchel took his moment in the spotlight, busting out a slick, self indulgent Van Halen-esque solo, complete with some over the fretboard double handed tapping. Addressing the crowd afterwards he remarked “Man, Slash the coolest motherfucker, he’s so cool he doesn’t even need a last name… Oh wait.”

The lyrics to ‘Girl From Oklahoma’ managed to break even the stony faced security guards, who couldn’t help but chuckle. As the band began playing ’17 Girls in a Row’ Starr walked along the stage pointing out girls until there were literally 17 girls dancing and grinding on stage, much to the delight of the band.

A crowd highlight for the night would definitely have to be ‘Community Property’ which for the first half was sung exclusively by the crowd. Starr pointed to a girl in the front row once they finished. “I’ll be seeing you back stage later on. No the chick, not the dude, this isn’t Judas Priest!”

Finishing off with none other than the classic ‘Death To All But Metal’ the band almost couldn’t be heard over the crowd. It was a spectacular way to finish their set, complete with synchronized stage moves from the band. Steel Panther gave an animated, musically intense and hilarious performance

After a short intermission is was time for Slash to take the stage. The anticipation within the audience swelled as one by one the band members took to the stage, with the legend himself appearing last. Opening with ‘Night Train,’ the ever silent Slash wordlessly commanded the audience’s attention, strutting from stage end to stage end.

In contrast to Steel Panther’s set, who took time out every couple of songs to talk to the crowd and each other, Slash and the Conspirators smashed out hit after hit all night, at a breakneck pace. Within their two hour set, the band only stopped 2 or 3 times.

Despite being nearly 50 years of age, Slash was full of energy throughout the night, often jumping from the drum risers or bounding around the stage. His stage presence was huge, but yet humble enough to not detract from his fellow band mates.

A highlight of from the middle of their set was ‘Starlight.’ “This is the first song we wrote together as a band, it holds a special significance to us.” Kennedy noted.        

‘Rocket Queen’ showcased a marathon 10 minute improvised solo by Slash, who mesmerized the crowd with his virtuosity and emotion put into his Les Paul. Really showing off his command of his instrument Slash was able to build and recede the intensity of his playing, finally climaxing with his signature wah-wah sound, bending his strings so high they threatened to break.

The remainder of the set blazed through with songs like ‘Bent To Fly,’ ‘World on Fire,’ ‘Anastasia’ (which Slash played on his sweet double-necked Guild Crossroads guitar) and finally an incredibly flawless performance of ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine.’ The set closed with the Velvet Revolver classic ‘Slither,’ but it wasn’t long before they returned to the stage one last time to play ‘Paradise City.’ Confetti exploded and rained out onto the crowd as Slash shredded out one last iconic guitar solo.

Both Slash and Steel Panther are in the middle of their Soundwave tours, so if you haven’t seen them already, make sure you don’t miss these two incredible acts.

Written by James Frith 

Photographer - Liam Cameron