Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Slash and His Band Showcase New Material, Leave the Classics at Home: Concert Review

by Chris Haney
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“Fillmore, the last time we were here was 2010. That’s 12 f**kin’ years ago, man,” Saul Hudson said in disbelief to a packed crowd at The Fillmore Charlotte. I was at that show as well, but a lot has changed in almost a dozen years. Thankfully, the man simply known as Slash and his band haven’t changed a bit as they ripped through a 21-song set over a span of two hours without pause on Monday night.

Technically, Slash was off by a couple months since his last concert in Charlotte, North Carolina at The Fillmore was on Feb. 17, 2011. But nonetheless, plenty has changed in 11 years, including the legendary guitarist getting back together with his original band, Guns N’ Roses.

In 1996, Slash quit Guns N’ Roses and the band fell apart the following year. For two decades GNR fans wondered if they’d ever see the iconic band play together again. In the meantime, Slash kept doing what Slash does – creating epic riffs and guitar solos with various bands. There’s Slash’s solo career, Slash’s Snakepit, Velvet Revolver, and his band Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators.

The latter of his bands is who played The Fillmore as they toured previous to their debut album. Fast forward 11 years and the same band just released their appropriately titled fourth studio album 4 last month. The band is currently on the road on “The River Is Rising” tour in support of the new album.

Last night’s show wasn’t about the past and Guns N’ Roses even though the guitarist will forever be linked to the legendary band. Instead, Monday’s concert was about Slash’s roots, which began in grimy nightclubs in Los Angeles. It was about a career musician who is constantly creating new material and will likely go to his deathbed with a guitar in his hands.

The crowd got a heavy dose of Slash’s signature shredding and guitar solos that at times broke the 10-minute mark. However, if you came to this show for nostalgia, then you may have left disappointed.

Slash and His New Band Make Their Fillmore Charlotte Premiere

Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators hit the road in 2010 on the “We’re All Gonna Die” tour for the first time as a band. Rock fans may remember lead singer Myles Kennedy from the 2000s as the frontman of Alter Bridge. Bassist Todd “Dammit” Kerns and drummer Brent Fitz round out the core of the band who have played together since its formation.

As the group toured the world in 2010 and 2011, they also worked on original music that would eventually be released on their first album, 2012’s Apocalyptic Love. But at the time, their live shows were a mixed bag of newly written songs and classics from each of Slash’s and Myles’ previous bands. During their first stop at The Fillmore Charlotte, fans were also treated to another lengthy 21-song set.

They played a handful of original songs, but early on they gave Guns N’ Roses fans exactly what they wanted. They performed “Nightrain,” “Rocket Queen,” and “Civil War” within the first six songs of the night. They’d go on to play “Mr. Brownstone” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine” before performing Velvet Revolver’s lead single “Slither.” As the band came back out for an encore, they tore through two more Guns N’ Roses classics, “My Michelle” and “Paradise City.”

It had been 15 years since GNR called it quits. So in 2011 that was the closest any of us were going to get to seeing Slash jam out on the numerous iconic songs he created with his old band. As amazing as some of the new material was, we all know why the majority of us were there. And for those of us who never got to see Slash, Axl, Izzy, and Duff play together, we walked away from that show euphoric after getting to see the guitarist perform many of their legendary hits.

There was still a buzz in the air after Monday night’s show as well as everyone exited the venue after another great concert. Yet as fans walked to the bars at the NC Music Factory or headed back to their cars, you could hear the same murmurs from the crowd… “They didn’t play a single Guns N’ Roses song.”

The Band Returns to Charlotte On ‘The River Is Rising’ Tour

As mentioned, a lot has changed in the last 11 years since the last time Slash performed in a smaller club in Charlotte. The nation has gone through a pandemic that shut down music venues across the country, but thankfully we seem to be getting back to a resemblance of normalcy these days.

In fact, the last time Slash played in the Queen City was 2019 after Guns N’ Roses reunited, and just before their world tour came to a screeching halt. The legendary band played the Spectrum Center – home of the Charlotte Hornets – on Sept. 25, 2019, just six months before the Covid-19 pandemic spread across the globe.

While more than 20,000 fans enjoyed that arena show, the ticket prices were through the roof. So it’s hard to beat getting to see a guitar god like Slash in a venue with a max capacity of only 2,000 for a fraction of the price that it costs to see GNR these days. To get that close to the stage would cost thousands compared to The Fillmore’s general admission ticket price of $55.

There’s no need to watch Slash on a giant screen like in a stadium or arena. Instead, you’re close enough to watch his left hand run rampant up and down the neck of his various guitars. Past the band itself, Slash’s guitar tech might have been the busiest man in the venue. It’s not an exaggeration when I say the guitarist switched instruments between each of the 21 songs played on Monday night. Considering Slash has a collection of more than 400 guitars, it’s not shocking he utilizes as many as he does.

As a huge fan of Slash as a musician, it’s easy to get lost in the intricacies of his performance. Whether checking out each model of the guitars he uses, watching the speed of his hands as he soars through guitar solos, or watching him command the stage like few rockstar guitarists can, you can’t help but be in awe at times. Casual fans might not be taking in the finer details of the performance, and that’s okay as well. But for those casual fans that came for the GNR classics only, and there were plenty, this likely wasn’t the show for them.

Slash Keeps the Focus On New Music, Surprises Crowd With Elton John Cover

Slash’s band ran through eight originals to open the show before switching it up with a cover of Lenny Kravitz’s “Always on the Run.” There were fans of all ages in attendance, including parents with their kids passing on their love of Slash’s music. In contrast to the young fans, there was also a 75-year-old woman with a walker in the middle of the crowd about 10 feet or less from the stage. The band noticed her and applauded her for coming out.

“That’s rock ‘n’ roll right there,” frontman Myles Kennedy said of the woman who obviously wasn’t letting her age keep her from a good time. Her efforts paid off since each of the band members, including Slash, reached into the crowd to shake her hand.

The group continued on playing a mix of their own tunes and a Slash’s Snakepit track over the next seven songs. They also performed the brand new track “The Path Less Followed” for the first time ever on stage in Charlotte. Yet the highlight of the evening was coming up when Myles dedicated the next song to a couple in the crowd who are soon to be married. The band broke out an epic cover of Elton John‘s classic song “Rocket Man,” with an additional Slash guitar solo in the middle of it, of course.

As the night neared its end, Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators would go on to play a few more original tracks. While the energy in the room was still high throughout the concert, you could also feel a bit of anxiousness in the latter part of the show. Are they going to play any Guns N’ Roses or Velvet Revolver songs at all? Surely in the encore we’d get one or two, no? Not on this night.

But Slash did leave us with an extended solo that ran well over 10 minutes on the band’s song “World on Fire.” Plus the band ripped through a lengthy, single-song encore of “Anastasia” to close things out in epic fashion. If most of the crowd didn’t know the songs, you couldn’t tell. Everyone rocked right along to Slash’s every chord, riff, and solo.

Inevitably, many fans were likely left a bit perplexed as to why the band didn’t play any of the old Guns N’ Roses hits. I admit I was confused as well at first, especially since they played close to a 50/50 split of old and new songs during their 2011 show at the same venue. However, there’s a strong possibility that since GNR is back together again and touring, those songs are now saved for the creators of that content. Axl Rose and Slash possibly have an agreement that GNR’s songs are now played by, well, GNR only.

While there’s no definitive answer, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if that theory held true. During an interview from earlier this year, Slash even confirmed that Guns N’ Roses is back in the studio creating new songs together for the first time in decades. That’s amazing news for GNR fans, but it may come with certain restrictions as we possibly saw on Monday night.

For fans in attendance though, we got to witness a guitar virtuoso at the top of his game for two uninterrupted hours straight. But since Slash left the GNR classics at home on this tour, start saving your money now just in case I’m right. It looks like fans who haven’t seen him perform GNR’s greatest hits will have to pony up the next time Guns N’ Roses come to town.

Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators – The Fillmore Charlotte (3/21/22)

Setlist

  1. Driving Rain
  2. My Antidote
  3. Shots Fired
  4. Halo
  5. Back From Cali *Slash song
  6. Spirit Love
  7. The River Is Rising
  8. Whatever Gets You By
  9. Always on the Run – *Lenny Kravitz cover
  10. Standing in the Sun
  11. Fall Back to Earth
  12. Speed Parade – *Slash’s Snakepit song
  13. April Fool
  14. Fill My World
  15. The Path Less Followed – *Live Premiere
  16. Doctor Alibi
  17. Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going to Be a Long, Long Time) – *Elton John cover
  18. Nothing to Say – *Slash song
  19. You’re a Lie
  20. World on Fire
  21. Anastasia – *Encore
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