Slash | Made in Stoke 24/7/11

by Alissa Ordabai
Staff Writer

The difference between playing an epicentre of a snobby pro muso scene like London or L.A. and a place like Stoke-on-Trent (a former coal mining town with population of 457,165) is conveyed on this live release with telling panache. Here the ultimate guitar hero of the 80s blue collars is welcomed with open arms by the home crowd as he runs through the highlights of his two-decade catalog.

The MTV-era platinum bangers from the GnR era are naturally getting the most ecstatic reception, but the crowd is just about equally pleased to hear the Velvet Revolver material, as well as Slash’s newer offerings from the self-titled 2010 solo album.

Picking up on the jubilant vibe in the room (3000 capacity), Slash is tearing through the set with self-assured poise which is simultaneously laid-back and on the ball. He is instantly recognizable in his rich, fat trademark tone, his unique phrasing, and his ability to keep his cool even when his punky inclinations are telling him to go for deliberately messy leads.

The real gems of this record, however, are the improvisations – be it high-tech wizardry such as on “Paradise City” or the unrehearsed impromptu solo which makes “Rocket Queen” the greatest standout of this record. To show off the feel of a real balls-to-the wall rock impro, “Rocket Queen” leaves intact even the endearing small mistakes – immediately drawing the line which separates the men from the boys and the naturals from the geeks.
And speaking of men with a natural gift, there is another connection Slash is making on this record – at times deliberately – between himself and the legacy of those who came before him. Apart from obvious nods to Jimi Hendrix’s tone and feel on “Mr. Brownstone” and “Civil War”, he is also referencing the legend (and here perhaps semi-consciously) when playing his impeccable rhythm parts. Those immediately bring to mind lesson number one of Hendrix’s legacy: that you can’t be a great lead player without becoming a great rhythm player first. And the way Slash builds on this maxim to show off his perfect sense of form and his finely honed, ever-so-slight disregard for the meter, says “Hendrix” even when he is not making such references intentionally.

This is way in which this release – apart from being a charter of Slash’s career – is also about the history of rock guitar and the influences and connections within it. And the fact that Myles Kennedy has taken the least resistance approach to vocals seems justified on such a guitar-oriented album. A more carefree, more punky version of Axl is what Kennedy is after here: not trying to compete with either Slash or the shadow of Axl, but instead providing a loose approximation to the sort of voice fans associate with those songs.

The absence of studio knit-picking in search for perfection on this album also goes to show that apart from being about history, it is about the joy of playing live, loving your instrument, putting the feel before the chops, and crossing geographical and cultural boundaries while carrying the torch of guitar rock.

Genre: Hard Rock

Slash – lead guitar
Myles Kennedy – lead vocals, rhythm guitar on “Nothing To Say” and “Watch This”
Bobby Schneck – rhythm guitar
Todd Kerns – bass, backing vocals, lead vocals on “Doctor Alibi”
Brent Fitz – drums, percussion

Track listing:
Disk 1
1. Been There Lately
2. Nightrain
3. Ghost
4. Mean Bone
5. Back from Cali
6. Rocket Queen
7. Civil War
8. Nothing to Say
9. Starlight
10. Promise

Disk 2:
1. Doctor Alibi
2. Speed Parade
3. Watch This
4. Beggars & Hangers On
5. Patience
6. Godfather Solo
7. Sweet Child of Mine
8. Slither
9. By the Sword
10. Mr. Brownstone
11. Paradise City


Hardrock Haven rating: 6.5/10

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