H. O. L. Y. Crap! Just when you thought Ocean Grove couldn’t evolve more than they …
Slash (feat. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators) w/ Devilskin
Margaret Court Arena, Melbourne
Friday 1st February, 2019
Tonight in Melbourne: Phil Collins, The Prodigy, and Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. Now that’s genuinely a hard toss up for which will grab the attention of a public that could probably just as easily see a bill with all three for a mixed bag of an evening. But no matter the bass drops and iconic drum sequences of the other two, there’s no going past a certain top hat and aviators for star power.
Devilskin actually have quite a hefty set for a support act. This means they have more than ample time to amp the crowd up, which vocalist Jennie Skulander does an admirable job of. Her screamed vocals give us pause because they come out of absolutely nowhere. Mixing easily between the two singing styles, she elicits cheers each time she reaches the lower register. Their drummer Nic Martin is also a standout with his ability to splash cymbals and smack the snare seemingly in one movement. Clearly enjoying the large stage, both guitarist Tony Vincent and bass guitarist Paul Martin swing their pink goatees in unison as they mug for the cameras up front. Add in a handheld air cannon for Skulander to erupt at will and Devilskin have themselves a tight package.
Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators are phenomenal musicians. There’s no doubting that title for any of them. The surrounds just feel a little too … clean for a group that’s built a brand off down and dirty rock and roll. It feels like we’re watching the band rather than actually being a part of the experience. There’s not much in between tracks to make it feel like a personal show. Then again Myles and Slash have over a century of life experience between them so we can’t always expect a roaring output. That’s more than made up for by Slash’s legendary skills on the frets, whose hands often look like they’re stationary with how fast they’re picking and tapping. Although it’s a team effort, that’s what we came to see and overly indulgent solos are plentiful tonight. Throned in the spotlight with the rest of the group standing back and letting the man have his dues, Slash rips solo after solo with absolute ease. He’s probably the only man that can throw a guitar on Myles Kennedy and have him repeat a riff for 10 minutes without any complaint.
Bassist Matt Kerns takes vocal duties on We’re All Gonna Die and Doctor Alibi with surprising force; if Myles ever has to step down, Kerns is easily able to take the reins. Look we know we’re not seeing Guns N’ Roses and yes, they’re their own band. But only singling out Nightrain as the sole cut? Come on, at least throw us Sweet Child of Mine with Myles’ vocals. There’s a distinct lack of Velvet Revolver material in the set too. Which places Slash in a strange position of offering the only experience where those songs can be played, but they choose to emphasise the deep cuts of this particular material instead. Dedicated fans wooped with joy but the casual Slash aficionados can be seen making their way to the bar more frequently than if it was all hits. The band power through over 20 tracks in their set though which is more than most can manage at half their age. Ghost and Driving Rain receive a heap of praise from the audience, but World On Fire and set closer Anastasia are unsurprising favourites too.
There aren’t many bands in this position whereby the legacy acts pull tens of thousands, and the imitators linger around the 1000 venue cap. Slash has built his own successful venture off the back off guitar solos, no mean feat considering it’s hard enough to succeed in that aspect as a vocalist. Expect true rock and roll without the frills.