Slash was coming to Glasgow again and this time I wasn’t missing out. From the first minute of Appetite for Destruction, when I heard it aged eight years old I knew I had to see this guy play live. Various circumstances over the years prevented me from attending his visits to the UK with Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver and later on previous solo tours. Not this time!
In a week that felt like it had been organised by the Devil himself, I wasn’t feeling the excitement build like I thought it would but as soon as I entered the massively impressive Hydro I was feeling tinges and beginning to think ahead to how I would be seeing an idol for the first time up close in the flesh. A living-legend that moulded this tiny mind of mine. To be fair, I was piling the pressure on him to perform in my own little world. Not that he knew any different.
As we strode into the arena, California Breed were onstage letting rip with loud bass and guitar hooks flying all over the place. They played a whirlwind set and were soon leaving the stage to a standing ovation. As much as I thought they did a great job opening up for Slash and the gang, they did seem a little disjointed at times but given the time they’ve been together and the fact there’s only 3 of them up there they did a good enough job of creating a frenzy down at the front of the standing section. One more thing, it’s not every day you get to see the legendary Glenn Hughes strutting his stuff is it?
The excitement that had escaped me in the build-up had appeared and hit me like a bullet train and it had me almost wetting my boxers as ‘You’re A Lie’ rang out. It’s a track that I had heard they were opening with on the previous stops along the way to tonight’s show and I have to say I wasn’t blown away by the idea… That feeling was quickly erased as the pre-chorus wailed, note-for-note, out of the stacks towering above Slash’s head. “Wow!”, what a start, this is going to be one hell of a gig and I’m not going to lie to you, the next hour and a half seemed to disappear in a blur of singing, air guitar-ing and screeching.
The recurring theme of the night was the fact that Myles Kennedy was brought to this earth of ours to sing alongside Slash. There’s an ease about the way those two – and the Conspirators – operate on a stage together. The chemistry is obvious and results in what is a stunning live set. The range in Kennedy’s vocal is jaw-dropping. That complimented by that deep, silky and instantly recognisable tone that only Slash can deliver makes for a perfect match.
The setlist consisted of the usual – some Guns ‘N’ Roses classics, past Slash “solo” efforts as well as the obligatory ‘Slither’ from Slash’s short-lived days in Velvet Revolver. It’s a weird feeling you get when you hear these songs that you’ve grown up with in a live setting, especially in one as large as The Hydro – a venue that’s had its fair share of criticism since it opened. I’m not sure how many tickets were sold, but it felt like it was filled with the atmosphere of the Barras times a hundred. I’d go out of my way to say it was without doubt the best The Hydro has sounded in the year (and a bit) that it’s been open.
The standouts on the set were ‘Nightrain’, ‘Avalon’, ‘Rocket Queen’ – possibly my favourite Guns ‘N’ Roses song of all time – and ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’. With these being my first live rendition of these tracks there’s probably little surprise. The thing is, there were no poor songs tonight, it’s just that these tracks in particular were of a standard that is as close to perfection as you could possibly get and when it came to it, they stood out a little more than the rest.
The main set ended with ‘Slither’, its bass line hanging in the air, whipping a frenzy before the guitar kicked in full throttle which got the crowd as excited as the point where the lights dropped at the start of the night. Just as quick as the band walked off they appeared again for the encore with a couple of extra members. Open-mouthed we bore witness to a cracking rendition of Deep Purple’s ‘Burn’ with the aid of Glenn Hughes and Andrew Watt of California Breed.
Closing the encore was ‘Paradise City’ with the big fanfare and ticker tape ending I left with a tear in my eye. A happy tear. A tear that’s been waiting to form and roll down my cheek for a whole twenty-six years.