Park City • Slash hit the Park City Live stage Wednesday night looking like the ultimate stereotype of himself, clad in canvas sneakers, leather pants with a bandanna tucked in the right rear pocket, black tank top (featuring a profanity modified to be used once each as a verb, an adjective and a noun), mirrored sunglasses and, of course, the trademark top hat.
Then he plugged in and, for a solid two hours, served up a sonic reminder that he’s always been far more about the audio than the visual, as he had the enthralled, sold-out audience eating out of his hands despite their being otherwise occupied by his signature goldtop Gibson Les Paul.
With all due respect to his cohorts for the evening, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators — and they do, in fact, deserve plenty of it — the Pioneer Day show was all about the guitar icon.
Seems obvious, considering both the “Apocalyptic Love” album and tour are billed as “Slash featuring …”
But there were more subtle reminders, too, courtesy of his bandmates, such as when bassist Todd Kerns and rhythm guitarist Frank Sidoris would briefly duck out stage right while Slash played each song’s opening riff, or when Kennedy would retreat, microphone stand in hand, nearly back to drummer Brent Fitz’s riser, so that Slash could be front and center for each mid-tune solo.
As for the songs themselves, they spanned the entirety of his professional recording career, with tracks from Guns N’ Roses, Slash’s Snakepit, Velvet Revolver and his two “solo” albums all present and accounted for. While the GN’R offerings drew a predictably boisterous response, there were plenty of highlights throughout.
Kennedy boasts four-octave range and he made liberal and easy use of its expanses, from the low, staccato, machine-gun-spit lyrics on back-to-back performances of “Mr. Brownstone” and “One Last Thrill” to the higher-pitched, melodic “Starlight.” His affable, easygoing charm held considerable sway, as well.
Kerns also made good use of his spotlight. The bassist, who gets a nightly turn on lead vocals for “Dr. Alibi,” handled both that song and his subsequent bonus performance of “Welcome to the Jungle,” and he transitioned from Lemmy Kilmeister’s growl to Axl Rose’s yelp with ease.
As for the man of the hour, he could do little wrong, as far as Park City was concerned. A new, elongated blues/funk intro to the old classic “Brownstone” drew appreciative nods for its creativity, while current radio hit “Anastasia” was equally remarkable for its opening technical virtuosity as for its closing ferocity.
The evening wasn’t total perfection. There were minor quibbles to be had with the 21-song setlist, such as all the GN’R material coming from “Appetite for Destruction” while “Use Your Illusion” went unrepresented; and Snakepit offerings outnumbering Velvet Revolver 2 to 1.
And arguably the low point of the evening came in what was supposed to be Slash’s showcase moment.
He eschewed a guitar-hero standalone instrumental, opting instead for an über-extended solo during the traditional bridge of “Rocket Queen.” Alas, it was approximately long enough for said Rocket Queen to meet and wed a Rocket King, and conceive and deliver a bouncing baby Rocket Prince.
Those hiccups, though, were more than made up for with the totality of Slash’s effort. He had worked up a good sweat by the third song of the evening, “Nightrain,” and was full-on dripping all over the stage by the time “Shine” was played as song No. 9.
All throughout the night, he captivated with an energy that was somehow both intensely manic and yet still quintessentially cool.
As the band wrapped up at midnight, the scene was that of the axeman, having surrendered his drenched, uncouth T-shirt, standing amidst a cannon spewing glittery, silver confetti over half the audience during the closing choruses of “Paradise City.”
It was quite the visual.
And still, somehow, no match for the aural.
2. Mean Bone (Slash’s Snakepit)
3. Nightrain (Guns N’ Roses)
5. Standing in the Sun
6. Back from Cali
7. Mr. Brownstone (Guns N’ Roses)
8. One Last Thrill
9. Shine (Slash’s Snakepit)
10. Not for Me
11. Dr. Alibi (w/ Todd Kerns on lead vocals)
12. Welcome to the Jungle (Guns N’ Roses) (w/ Todd Kerns on lead vocals)
13. Rocket Queen (Guns N’ Roses)
14. No More Heroes
17. You’re a Lie
18. Sweet Child O’ Mine (Guns N’ Roses)
19. Slither (Velvet Revolver)
20. Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin cover)
21. Paradise City (Guns N’ Roses)