Review: Slash and Myles Kennedy raise the river—and the roof at last weekend's Clearwater show

This was by no means a Guns N’ Roses salute.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOSH BRADLEY
Photo by Josh Bradley
It was impossible to walk out of guitar god Slash’s Friday night performance at Ruth Eckerd Hall without a feeling of mesmerization. Even those who shelled out however much, in hopes of hearing Guns N’ Roses songs, didn’t have the ability to yawn.

When you’re in the presence of the 56-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist, beside him will be either Axl Rose or Myles Kennedy, and his three-piece, The Conspirators. He released a new album with the latter in February, very creatively entitled 4.

After a 30-minute, electrifying opening act from Tash Neal & MJT, which closed its set with The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter,” Slash and Myles’ stage was set up with two Ukrainian flags, and the lights went down abruptly. Myles, clad in an “Expressions of Vader” t-shirt, and Slash, dressed in his trademark top hat, Alfred Newman zombie sleeveless shirt, and oversized earrings, walked onstage in the dark, and launched into “Driving Rain,” off of their previous record, Living The Dream.

For the majority of the two-hour set, Slash wielded more or less the same type of axe: His trademark Gibson Les Paul. He swapped out for different colors and variations a few times, but the only time he didn’t hold one was during “Speed Parade,” when he shredded a Gibson Explorer. As for Myles Kennedy, he didn’t pick up a guitar once. There are times when a lead singer needs something like an acoustic guitar, either for rhythm purposes, or just as something extra to do. That didn’t apply to Myles. The most extravagant thing he would do, instrumentally speaking, was play the literal triangle. “To me, one of the pivotal parts of the evening, I’ve studied it for many, many years, I’ve got a degree in the triangle,” he declared.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOSH BRADLEY
Photo by Josh Bradley
“Fall Back to Earth” was ripped out halfway through the set, and was described as the “epic” that closes out 4. Unfortunately, many took this opportunity to take a potty break or make a beer run, whilst meanwhile, Slash was about to shred out one of his longest solos of the night.

It was pretty clear that many in the crowd had bought these tickets in hopes of hearing some Guns N’ Roses tunes (the band did fail to reschedule its Tampa concert originally set for summer 2020), and did not get what they wanted. Not that GNR purists thought the show sucked, but Myles Kennedy fully understood that they weren’t getting some of what they wanted. “I know there’s a lot of new material coming your way, and you guys are just so fucking supportive,” he said honestly. The band would then rip into “Fill My World,” which was said to have been written from a dog’s perspective.

Myles left the stage for a quick breather while Conspirators bassist Todd Kerns took on lead vocals for “Dr. Alibi,” on which Slash picked up a black Les Paul. Upon Myles’ return to the stage, a cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” was given—on the legend’s 75th birthday, no less—originally covered by Slash for Eddie Braun’s Snake River Canyon jump a few years back. “World On Fire” closed out the main set, and included not only the band introductions, but also some words from Slash, after an entire night of staying completely silent, vocally speaking. “It’s an honor for me to introduce this motherfucker every night,” he explained monotonously, referring to “Myles motherfuckin’ Kennedy.” Slash then stopped talking once again, and began a jam session for the Conspirators, led by a ten-minute guitar solo on an orange Les Paul from him, shredded without breaking a sweat.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOSH BRADLEY
Photo by Josh Bradley
For an encore, one of the only singalongs of the night, “Anastasia” was presented, and in the last moments of it, Slash stepped up onto the drum riser and, along with the final beat, jumped off of it, while strumming that last chord.

Only hours following the show, Slash mourned Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins on his Instagram. Man, if only we knew what would happen in Colombia probably during the show.

About The Author

Josh Bradley

Josh Bradley is Creative Loafing Tampa's resident live music freak. He started freelancing with the paper in 2020 at the age of 18, and has since covered, announced, and previewed numerous live shows in Tampa Bay, even as the live music industry continues to get back on its feet.
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