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Gig Review: Slash ft. Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators at MTV Indies Xtreme

The guitar god’s concert in Mumbai, where he played material from all his solo records as well as GN’R hits, was one of the best the city had witnessed in a long time

Rolling Stone India Nov 09, 2015
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Slash returned to India after two decades at the sports and adventure festival MTV IXtreme. Photo: Roycin D’souza

We’re in the thick of the music festival season in India, and things couldn’t look brighter. In the past few weeks itself, we’ve had iconic artists that almost personify the genres they play, perform in India. If reggae veterans the Wailers took fans in Shillong and Mumbai on a nostalgia trip, American thrash metal giants Megadeth returned to India on yet another tour. However, in what seemed to be a most thrilling happening, two guitar masters ”“ both considered gods of their respective genres ”“ are currently on their tour of India. While jazz/fusion prodigy John McLaughlin is in the country for an album promotion tour, Slash played his first gig in India after twenty years. He performed with vocalist Myles Kennedy [of alt metal band Alter Bridge] and his backing band the Conspirators as part of music and adventure sports event MTV Indies Xtreme. Since his 1995 concert in Bengaluru at the launch of MTV India where he performed with Indus Creed, Slash’s return to India was long due, and after a failed attempt in 2013, the former Guns N’Roses axeman finally made his way to India last week.

Opening for Slash and co. at the Reliance JIO Park, which makes for an excellent open-air venue, were a bunch of rock acts from across India — Kolkata-based alt rockers GingerFeet, Delhi old-timers Them Clones and Bengaluru veterans Thermal and a Quarter. Gingerfeet kicked off the evening playing tracks from their 2013 debut album High and Above: The First Wave, gaining momentum though their half-hour set as the crowd steadily built up. And while the Kolkata rockers brought the funk on tracks like “Game On” and “Stars” and newer material from their upcoming release, Them Clones had their older followers feeling nostalgic as they pulled out tracks from their 2009 debut love.hate.heroes. As much as the audience that was waiting on tenterhooks for Slash to come on stage,  Them Clones couldn’t help being starstruck themselves about opening for one of the world’s most famous rock guitarists: “I can’t even say that this is a dream come true for us, because we never even dreamed that something like this could happen,” gushed vocalist Prithwish Dev. The crowd was now steadily building for the headlining set, as Thermal and a Quarter performed their biggest hits over the years and even their live staple, a cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom.”

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Slash with Indus Creed guitarist Mahesh Tinaikar at the MTV launch concert in Bengaluru in 1995

When Slash took stage ”“ he looked every bit the Slash we knew from the GN’R music videos from Nineties ”“ Mumbai completely lost it. The guitarist kicked off his set with the boisterous “You’re a Lie,” from his 2012 album Apocalyptic Love, on which Kennedy got to show off his stunning vocal prowess. But it was only when the band played its next song, “Night Train” from GN’R’s legendary 1987 debut album Appetite For Destruction that it started feeding the audience’s hunger for some serious nostalgia. The sound of Slash’s guitar was just the way we’d heard on the records over the past 25 years, whether it was on GN’R anthems or his solo albums ”“ in fact most people in the audience were heard saying that it sounded even better live.

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The set itself was a healthy mix of songs from both his old and new records ”“ basically a good showcase of all the fantastic work that Slash has done in his almost three-decade-long career. The songs that he played from latest album World on Fire such as “Bent to Fly,” “Wicked Stone” and “Savage Sun” — were crisp and tight to a tee. If you’ve been a fan of Slash’s side project and supergroup Snakepit, you were probably disappointed as the guitarist didn’t play any of that material. While Slash never fails to put people in a guitar solo-spell and Kennedy’s genius as a frontman is indisputable, the Conspirators deserve a special shout-out for their matchless playing too. Bassist Todd Kerns and drummer Trent Fitz made a most formidable duo, locking stupendously on every single track. The majority of the crowd might not have been familiar with Slash’s recent tracks, but that ignorance never came in the way of them enjoying the music. On “Rocket Queen,” he unleashed a 15-minute-long solo that was choppy and entertaining in a way only Slash could make it.

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Myles Kennedy [of alt metal act Alter Bridge] made an exceptional frontman for Slash’s band. Photo: Roycin D’souza

But it was on ”˜Sweet Child O’Mine’ that all hell broke loose. The opening riff sent 99 per cent of the all the people into a state of ecstatic delirium, and they sang the entire song in a most incredible unison. The blast from the past was so intense that when the band started playing “Sweet Child,” it didn’t really matter whether you grew up loving the song or not, you just had to sing it in that moment, and be, erm, part of some, you know, local history! The band played its ‘closing track’ “Slither” and in a highly rehearsed fashion, said their quick goodbyes and left the stage. Of course, there was going be an encore! Slash and gang returned to the stage with “Paradise City,” sending everyone into a nirvanic-orgasmic state of happiness all over again. Mumbai rock fans were a very happy lot that evening. They’d finally seen their god.

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