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SLASH Live At The Ottawa Bluesfest

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Tuesday, July 29, 2014 @ 2:29 PM

SLASH Gets A Warm Welcome To The Festival Jungle As He, MYLES KENNEDY AND THE CONSPIRATORS Rock Out While Standing In The Sun At The Ottawa Bluesfest, July 11, 2014

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My only excuse for this review being somewhat late was because this past July I was celebrating for two: My 40th birthday and Bluesfest's 20th birthday. There would be lots of firsts for me as I would cease to be too young to die (according to legend) and/or too old to rock 'n roll (huge urban myth). As nothing immediately noteable came to mind at that time we'll go with legendary top hat-wearing Les Paul axeslinger Slash making his first appearance at Bluesfest and also my first time seeing anyone remotely connected to his former band GUNS 'N ROSES live.

So, since everyone knows about the less-than-acrimonious split between Slash and GNR from many years back, let's focus instead on how he came about to recording and performing with a couple of rising Canadian musicians and the frontman for ALTER BRIDGE. It all started after the former's other post-GNR band VELVET REVOLVER which, exactly like GNR itself which was why he wanted people to distance the two bands, finally imploded after the public meltdown of frontman Scott Weiland in early 2010. Not eager to wait for the other members to reconvene and deal with Weiland's drug issues Slash opted to stick with writing more music including some of his own material he wanted to use for VR's next album. That collection of songs became his first official self-titled solo album that year. It featured a wealth of guest collaborations ranging from Ozzy Osbourne to Lemmy to Dave Grohl to Fergie. While an impressive array of talent on the album, it posed a problem for Slash who wanted to tour in support of it. Often his guests were too busy with their own music careers to fully commit to a long world tour. Slash, like many of his contemporaries, lives to tour and tours to live; remember that the Use Your Illusion tour of the 90's was 2 years long when he was still in GNR. He needed a new frontman to help start a new band from the ground up yet again and he found one in Myles Kennedy. His own list of connections helped Slash fill out the rest of the band: Bobby Schenck (rhythm guitarist), Todd Kerns (bass) and Brent Fitz (drums). And then the follow-up albums started becoming easy for Slash to pump out in a timely fashion afterwards, with 2012's Apocalyptic Love and this year's World On Fire set for a September release.

But for the moment, the studio would have to wait as Slash, Myles and their Conspirators had a world of stages to burn up - including Bluesfest's. And they lit that bitch up with "Ghost" to open their set. If Myles' confident stage swagger and suave vocals weren't enough to excite the crowd, Slash's mere presence definitely was. Looking every bit as the ageless curly-haired top hat-wearing icon that day just as he did 27 years when Appetite For Destruction broke him into stratospheric stardom, Slash was the master of his craft yet he made it look nearly effortless as he dominated on newer tracks such as "Standing In The Sun" and his latest track "World On Fire" as well as his signature classic songs such as "Nighttrain" and "You Could Be Mine". Luckily, all that Myles had inherited from Axl Rose was his distinctive stage presence and pure rock fury and he nailed the GNR tracks with the same energy as hard rock's ginger wild child but on his own terms. He even gave the vocals on "By The Sword" (originally sung by WOLFMOTHER crooner Andrew Stockdale) and VR's "Slither" a higher slant than their predecessors' take on the songs but still kept his own identity on the other tracks. And as the show simply could not end without a rendition of "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "Paradise City", both Myles and Slash made sure that those numbers were given the respect that they deserved, with the extended lead and rhythm guitar riffs shaping the songs' moods and harmonies. And even for an early Bluesfest crowd at 7 PM, "Paradise City"'s climax could still incite a brief yet active circle pit especially when the Conspirators are jamming that song with every bit of fire and brimstone as their veteran peers had done two decades prior. A fiery performance all around.

Still baffling how they ended up being the opening band for the BARENAKED LADIES that evening, whose own show was one half originals and the rest being covers though the neat inclusion of "Sweet Child O' Mine"'s chorus in the midst of "If I Had $1 Million" was a proper homage to their opening band. I still thought that the order of the sets should have been different; at least Slash could take credit for any and all of the covers he played on that night. And not a single CRTC violation was recorded that night.



  • "Ghost"
  • "Nighttrain"
  • "Standing In The Sun"
  • "World On Fire"
  • "You Could Be Mine"
  • "Anastasia"
  • "By The Sword"
  • "You're A Lie"
  • "Sweet Child O' Mine"
  • "Slither"
  • "Paradise City"

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