GIG REVIEW: Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators & Devilskin Live at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre
There can be little denying that Slash is one of the greatest guitar players in the history of rock and roll, having remained a consistently in demand act over the three decades he has been in the business. It’s that consistency that has ensured that no matter what he is a part of, he will always generate a large turnout where ever he tours. This is perhaps no more telling than his most recent performance on Wednesday night in Brisbane, something which normally wouldn’t get a large turnout, yet still had a crowd few thousand people strong come out as Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators rolled through town.
New Zealand rockers Devilskin opened the night’s proceedings and although the crowd was still slowly trickling through the doors for the duration of their set, they seemed to hit all the right notes with those that were in attendance. Moving freely around the big stage the band made sure to keep the attention focused solely on them at all times. Singer Jennie Skulander was a highlight for the band, often impressively switching from her balanced rock tone to ferocious growls that could rival those put forward by artists like Alyssa White-Gluz in an instant, all while remaining visually engaging through her dancing and crowd engagement. Equally engaging were the dual guitar combo of Tony Vincent and bassist Paul Martin, who never truly stayed rooted in one spot, often shifting and alternating stage spaces to make sure that all the audience was drawn in to the performance. There was a lot to like in their performance.
As a matter of fact, the only detractors in Devilskin’s overall performance weren’t related to the band at all. Specifically, it felt like the larger venue hindered the band to a degree during the first few tracks with the hollow space of the venue taking away some of the impact of their sound, making it echo. This seemed to subside as more fans started filling the venue out. Likewise, lighting for the first few tracks didn’t seem cohesive with the patterns of the songs, which was further emphasized when half of one of Vincent’s guitar solos were played in the dark. These are but minor criticisms, completely outside of the bands control, but were things that were apparent at the start of their set that thankfully tapered off as the performance went on.
Devilskin put on a great performance overall, and proved that they are a band to keep an eye on. If the success of fellow countrymen Like a Storm in that same alternative rock space that Devilskin inhabits is anything to go by, then I’m pretty sure we will be hearing a lot more of them over the coming years.
With Australia being like a second home for both Slash and Myles Kennedy, with both artists touring here regularly, it was little surprising to see that how the crowd had sweltered out as Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators walked out on stage to John Carpenter’s ‘The Shape Stalks’ — a unique choice of entry music, but one quickly forgotten about as the band launched into their first track ‘The Call of the Wild’.
The first thing that became apparent watching the headlining act was that you could feel their enjoyment to be performing through their energetic display. Whether that was through Kennedy roaming from each side of the stage with his microphone to draw in the crowd, bassist Todd Kerns taking the lead vocals for two songs, or Slash himself duck-walking and jumping around the stage, it was very difficult not to be drawn in to the bands energy once the band had kicked off.
Musically, I don’t think you could find another group around that have the same ability as that put on show by Slash, Myles Kennedy and Co. The band is quite obviously musically proficient, and that proficiency and their cohesiveness definitely shone through. Kennedy remains a very charismatic front man, making his performance look graceful and easy enough that anyone can achieve; Slash still manages to play his guitar in a way that would make most other guitar players feel like they needed to head home and practice; Kerns quite comfortably transitioned from bass-playing backing vocalist to lead singer to put on a performance often rivaling Kennedy’s; Frank Sidoris on rhythm guitar fits as the perfect accompaniment to Slash’s lead; and Brent Fitz on drums somehow managed to effortlessly drum through a two hour long set. Any issues that were apparent during Devilskin’s performance were not replicated with the headliner, with the performance being clean, the sound being impeccably clear, the lighting seemed fine tuned to the second with its transitions, fades and color changes, and everything just meshed together to put an extra kick into this performance.
Each song gave something new to look forward. Whether it was the extremely long solo in ‘Wicked Stone’ (we are talking around 4-5 minutes here), Slash bringing out the double necked guitar for ‘The One You Loved Is Gone’, Kerns dedication of the band’s performance of ‘Doctor Alibi’ to Lemmy Kilmister, or any of the numerous solos that littered the night, there was always an exciting feeling of not knowing what was to come next. The set consisted of a mix of songs largely encompassing Slash’s work with the Conspirators and his self-titled project, but still managed to feature Guns N’ Roses classic ‘Nightrain’, which generated a sizable crowd reaction. The fact that this was a one off track, rather than part of a set consisting of multiple Guns N’ Roses songs might have helped that reaction, but it was refreshing to see that the set was predominantly dedicated to Conspirators tracks and Slash’s self-titled work.
When the evening finally wrapped up after a two-hour long set, there was a feeling of fulfillment in the air. It was very difficult to look around and see anyone that was leaving unappeased with the performance, with most wishing that it could have gone on for another few hours. Slash has been a rock staple for three decades now, and if he continues writing music like he has been and performing with the same energy that he put on display in Brisbane, then I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibilities to see him perform for two or three decades more.