SLASH Takes Toronto to Paradise City (Concert Review)

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Slash Toronto ticketVeteran rocker Slash rolled into Toronto to play at The Sound Academy Sunday, September 23, 2012.  When I had first heard about the show I had mild interest but was not chomping at the bit to go. I had not been terribly impressed with his non-Guns and Roses and Velvet Revolver work.  Finding myself with a rare Sunday night off of work. I made the spur of the moment decision to trek down to T.O. and check out the show.  I grabbed my ticket online to make sure there was one available before I got all the way down there.  The ticket price of just under $50 was a bit steep I thought for a club show. But what the hell I’d already decided to go.

The bill was titled as Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators. As I had no idea who they were, I assumed they were the opening band.

Doors at 7:30pm were stated on the ticket. When I arrived at 7:40pm I was a bit surprised to see a huge line-up waiting to get into the venue.  Perhaps it is sold out, although I had no trouble getting my ticket earlier that morning.  The crowd filed toward the entrance and encompassed a diverse age range, with lots of excited chatter and song speculation.  By the time I got through the doors it was just after 8pm and the opening band was already onstage.  I seem to remember back in the day that you were always made to wait for what seemed like an eternity for the show to begin after you got into the venue. This was the second time in as many concerts that things seemed to get going at a lightning quick pace.  I guess times are a-changin’ as my grandpa used to say!

Opening Band – Foxy Shazam

Foxy Shazam - taken from GoogleNo matter, on with the show as they say!  As I wormed my way through the already thick crowd working my way closer to the front, I was impressed by the sound quality of this unknown band gracing the stage.  The singer was just announcing the next song. I quote, “my favorite time of the day, “The Holy Touch”. I found an acceptable standing area with not too many tall people in front of me and began to focus on the performers.  The singer claimed that the next tune was written by him and Rob Zombie. And it did contain a smidgen of “Dragula”.
The band themselves appeared quite eclectic with the keyboardist drawing most of my attention early on.  He had a shaved head and a decently long beard that will one day make ZZ Top proud I’m sure.  He was into the tunes and rockin’ hard, standing on his keyboard, playing with his feet. His facial expressions easily gave away that he was generally having a great time.  The bass player had a huge mane of curly shoulder length brown hair which appeared to be dyed blonde underneath. And the trumpet player often threw his instrument in the air and caught it a few seconds later.  They blew through a couple more tunes called “Yes, Yes, Yes” and then “Killing It”. The singer, Eric, performing a laugh out loud funny monologue between each number.

…cigarettes for Breakfast?

Foxy ShazamThen came “I Like It”, after which Eric asked for a cigarette from the audience.  He received three or four smokes. Lighting them all, he took a couple of puffs simultaneously while he asked for the lights to be turned down.  He then blew the ash embers into the air and proceeded to eat the still lit cigarettes.
Their final song was “The Temple”, at the end of which the band left the stage all except vocalist Eric, who said into the microphone “I wish I had a big mirror on stage so I could watch myself sing” and no sooner had the last word left his lips he dropped the mic and with a clatter of feedback as it hit the stage, he was gone.  I was able to find out that they were called Foxy Shazam. I listened to several crowd members’ remark about how good their performance was. Purchasing their CD for only $10 and after listening to it the next day, I realized that this is a band that must be seen live to be fully appreciated.  The CD, The Church of Rock and Roll, is still worth a listen by all means. I will search out their other recordings, but their live performance is where it’s at.

The Main Event – SLASH

Slash Toronto 2012 - The MeisterBy this time I had figured out that Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators were Slash’s lead singer and backup band.  The crowd tightened up as everyone tried to squeeze closer to the stage for Slash. There was not much room to breathe as the band came out, roaring into “Halo” from the latest record Apocalyptic Love.  A cheer went out as the second number came from Guns N’ Roses‘ iconic record, Appetite for Destruction in the form of “Nightrain”. The crowd attempted to dance even though they were shoulder to shoulder.  Again everything sounded great and Slash looked just like he did when I’d seen Guns N’ Roses back in the early nineties with his trademark curly black hair, sunglasses, and leather top hat.
“Ghost” from the Slash CD was followed by “Standing In The Sun” from Apocalyptic Love before going back to Slash for “Back From Cali”.  The songs sounded awesome as the band rocked through them. I couldn’t help think that I’d done an injustice to Slash and should give his recordings another, more concentrated listening.
“Been There Lately” from Slash’s Snakepit led us into “Civil War”. And right through into “Rocket Queen”, the crowd singing every word.  I couldn’t help but notice that vocalist Myles Kennedy sounded very similar to Axl Rose. The classic Gunners tunes sounded bang on and still hold up today as some of the best rock ever released.  Two more from the latest release followed in “Carolina”, which is a catchy song and “No More Heroes”. The bass and rhythm guitarists gave very energetic stage performances.

…Todd Kerns

Slash Toronto Todd Kerns - The MeisterMyles introduced bassist Todd Kerns and said that he would be taking on vocal duties for a bit.  Todd looked to be having a blast as he powered through “We’re All Gonna Die” and then broke into the G N’ R classic “You’re Crazy” to an overwhelming response from the audience.  Throughout the next few numbers of “Not For Me”, “Starlight”, “Anastasia” and “You’re A Lie”, which contained a couple of mini Slash guitar solos, I noticed that Slash seemed to be almost talking to his guitar as his lips were constantly moving.  The crowd, especially the ladies went crazy as Slash played the opening to “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and the audience all sang along knowing every word.

…encore time

The Velvet Revolver hit “Slither” wrapped up the initial portion of the show and they left the stage for a short break before returning to play another Velvet Revolver track in “Fall to Pieces”.  The crowd went nuts again as “Paradise City” started and glimmering plastic confetti strips floated down from the rafters.  Slash and Myles and the rest of the band took their bows, said their thanks and left the stage.  Wow! I was very impressed with the whole evening but in particular, Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators.  They sounded great on old and classic material alike and on Sunday, September 23rd, 2012 Slash took Toronto on a ride to “Paradise City”.

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