Slash. Mere mention of the name conjures memories of glam metal guitar solos at their finest, and there is definitely a buzz surrounding his show at the 3Arena, that even the miserable November rain could not dampen (don’t say you didn’t see that one coming). The support act are Canadian rockers Monster Truck whose bluesy rock is delivered well, but received tamely. The mature crowd seem mostly indifferent to their efforts; apparently content enjoying over-priced beers and over-priced merchandise, while reminiscing over the heyday of rock’n’roll. Even a few well-worn t-shirts are spotted from that historic Guns n’ Roses show at Slane castle more than twenty years ago.
This time, Saul Hudson is accompanied by bandmates Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, promoting their second album World On Fire, which impressively reached number two in the Irish Album Charts. A massive cheer welcomes them onstage as they open with ‘You’re a Lie’ from Apocalyptic Love. Slash is dressed in the same outfit as, well, forever: leather trousers, leather waistcoat, dark glasses, and of course, that trademark top hat crowning his age-defying mop of curly black hair. Brandishing his iconic Gibson Les Paul guitar he confidently struts around the stage as they transition straight into the first of many classic G’n’R tracks, ‘Night Train’. Despite his name appearing in a font dwarfed by that of his leather-clad bandmate, Kennedy asserts his presence and commands the stage, engaging with the fans and generally delivering an impressive vocal performance.
‘Halo’ is followed by the maiden live performance of ‘Avalon’ from World On Fire, which sees Slash shred out some fresh new solos, proving that he’s still got it, although perhaps not quite as much of “it” as he had a quarter of a century ago. The distinctive drumbeat and building guitar intro to ‘You Could Be Mine’ sends the audience into a frenzy, but Myles’s voice struggles to match that distinctive Axl Rose quality – although, to be fair, so does Axl’s as anybody who saw him perform in this same venue a while back could attest.
It’s eight songs into the set before Slash addresses the crowd briefly to acknowledge that it’s great to be back in Dublin and to introduce bassist Todd “Dammit” Kerns, who takes the mic for a couple of tracks including another Appetite For Destruction classic, ‘You’re Crazy’. It’s obvious (and expected) that the crowd are far more enthusiastic about and familiar with the G’n’R material than his more recent projects, but that’s not to say they don’t go down well. There’s plenty of energy and movement in the audience, and even the occasional small mosh-pit and crowd-surfer.
Another few brand new tracks follow, including another Dublin-exclusive, first-ever live performance of ‘Beneath the Savage Sun’ which opens with a groovy riff and beat that has thousands of heads irresistibly banging in slow motion during the chorus. Next up is the epic ‘Rocket Queen’ which gives the main man the inevitable opportunity to showboat an extended solo. If this kind of (self) indulgence is not your scene, then now is definitely the time to go to the restrooms. Or the bar. Or both. And then back for a second pint. Clocking in at no less than nineteen minutes, it seems like it is never going to end, and is quite possibly something that nobody else but Slash could pull off.
Finishing out the two-hour long, twenty-song set with more well-known tracks including Velvet Revolver’s ‘Slither’, and of course, the song featuring what is probably Slash’s most recognisable solo; ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’. The crowd sing along emphatically as Slash assumes the stance, Les Paul held almost vertically, shredding with style and skill.
Exploding confetti cannons accompany the finale of ‘Paradise City’ that create a blizzard of little pieces of paper printed with “Slash – World on Fire”. The audience go wild during the climax, bringing this gargantuan gig to a close, save for a final “thank you” and farewell from Slash and a group bow as the last note reverberates deafeningly around the old Point Theatre.
Slash photographed for State by Paulo Gonçalves