Rock icon Slash teamed up with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators and fellow Sunset Strip survivors Steel PantherThursday night to deliver a fun-filled night of classic rock excellence and excess at Festival Hall.
Taking the stage at the decidedly un-metal time of 7 PM, Steel Panther wasted no time capturing the crowd’s attention, signalling their sinful sonic intentions via a boisterous rendition of 2014 single Pussywhipped.
As Michael Starr’s vocals reached for the sky against a glam-metal backdrop, the stage became a blur of teased hair and tangled limbs. Fanthers and the uninitiated alike broke out in smiles as wide as the stage. Those smiles grew wider as Steel Panther invited many a female onstage with them throughout the set.
Breasts were flashed and the concept of personal space was disposed of. The risque antics continued as the band powered through Turn Out The Lights, 17 Girls In A Row and led a tender crowd sing-a-long of power ballad Community Property, reaching their zenith in closer and signature tune, Death To All But Metal, during which a dozen ladies were invited up on stage to show their appreciation.
With all the preening, posturing, and political incorrectness, it can be easy to overlook the level of musicianship Steel Panther possess. But there’s no denying that all four members are exceptionally talented. Starr’s voice is the, um, star of the show, and tonight’s note-perfect performance — ‘hair solo’ included — only confirmed that fact.
After a short changeover, the lights dimmed and the familiar, top-hatted, Les Paul-wielding, scraggly-haired silhouette of Slash appeared, prompting rapturous applause the by-now well-lubricated audience.
Opening with the energetic You’re A Lie, Slash with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators caused the first of many full-venue freakouts when they launched into a suitably gritty rendition of Guns N’ Roses’ Nightrain.
As Myles Kennedy owned the vocal delivery and Slash let rip on the songs’ signature riffs, the crowd sung along with every word, filling Festival Hall with an aura of joyful expectation which screamed “this night could be something special”.
That’s exactly what it turned out to be, as Slash and co played through a cleverly constructed two-hour ‘best of’ set, lifting songs from Slash’s entire back catalogue. Non-G’N’R portions of the setlist managed to keep the crowds attention, surprisingly. Ghost, Bent To Fly, World On Fire and a spirited version of Velvet Revolver’s Slither received particularly positive responses.
There was no denying that the people came to see Slash play the Gunners, though. He happily obliged, whipping up a frenzy via Double Talkin Jive, You Could Be Mine, Out Ta Get Me and Rocket Queen. Slash lived up to his reputation as an axe-god, hitting every note in his trademark style and blowing minds with a mind warping extended solo in Rocket Queen.
The Conspirators were fantastic, with bassist Todd Kearns’ showmanship a particular standout, and Kennedy’s ability to channel Axl throughout was impressive. Only the highest notes of Rocket Queen offered any trouble.
Slash, of course, saved the best for last, and as the iconic strains of Sweet Child Of Mine bled from his guitar, the room came unglued. 28 years after release, it’s still special. After a deafening encore call the band closed out the night with a wild cover of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song and a killer version of GNR’s Paradise City.
Gallery: Slash, Steel Panther @ Melbourne’s Festival Hall 26.02.15 / Photos by Tony Proudfoot
You’re a Lie
Nightrain (Guns N’ Roses cover)
Standing in the Sun
Ghost (Slash cover)
Back from Cali (Slash cover)
Double Talkin’ Jive (Guns N’ Roses cover)
You Could Be Mine (Guns N’ Roses cover)
Doctor Alibi (Slash cover w/ Todd Kerns on lead vocals)
Out Ta Get Me (Guns N’ Roses cover w/ Todd Kerns on lead vocals)
Starlight (Slash cover)
Rocket Queen (Guns N’ Roses cover)
Bent to Fly
World on Fire
Sweet Child O’ Mine (Guns N’ Roses cover)
Slither (Velvet Revolver cover, w/ intro of Bad Company’s Feel Like Makin’ Love)
Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin cover)
Paradise City (Guns N’ Roses cover)