Slash, Myles Kennedy, and the Conspirators deliver the concert of a lifetime in Vancouver

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photos by Jet Sutherland

By Steve Newton

As I write this it’s been over 12 hours since Slash left the stage at Hard Rock Casino Vancouver, and my ears are still ringing loudly.

It sounds like rock ‘n’ roll.

Holy crap was that an awesome show! I’ve been reviewing rock gigs for nearly 35 years, and I can honestly say that last night’s performance has rocketed into my Top 20 of All Time.

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I always thought/knew Slash was an amazing guitarist, but after seeing him in a relatively intimate setting–as opposed to back in 1993 at a football stadium–amazing doesn’t really cut it anymore. During a version of Guns N’ Roses’ “Rocket Queen” he took off into an extended, jazz-inflected solo that featured roughly 325,097 notes, yet never once made you ponder the term “wanker”.

The top-hatted dude’s phrasing is pure, molten gold.

Slash wasn’t alone in his awesomeness last night, though. Lead vocalist Myles Kennedy was a force of nature throughout, sounding fierce on solo Slash tunes like “Back to Cali” and adding just the right amount of raspy Axl-ness to the Guns covers, which also included “Nightrain”, “You Could Be Mine”, “It’s So Easy”, “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, and the confetti-splattered encore, “Paradise City”.

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Special mention should also be made of hometown boy Todd “Dammit” Kerns, ex-Age of Electric and Static in Stereo–who I hereby bequeath with the title Most Rockin’ Canadian Bassist of the 21st Century. Kerns is one of those hair-whipping guys who likes to passionately belt out the lyrics to whatever song’s being played when there isn’t even a microphone handy. Those are the best kind of hair-whipping guys.

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The band–which is officially known as “Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators–also previewed a few tunes from its upcoming album, World on Fire, which is scheduled for release on September 15. “I’ve taken to calling it our Physical Graffiti due to its weight, size and diversity,” says Kerns, and judging by how great the new material sounded last night, I’m gonna agree.

I’d been to the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver several times before, when it was known as the Red Robinson Show Theatre–my petition to get the name changed to Newt’s Flaming Colossal Rockatorium didn’t fly–but I’d never experienced the setup where they move the seats so concertgoers can stand on the bare floor. That alteration thoroughly enhanced the rocking vibe of the place, as did the easier access to beer.

Thumbs-up to whoever made that call.

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