Slash Ft. Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators Ft. Wayne, Indiana 9/30/15
As some of you reading may know, I'm a pretty huge GNR fan. I finally got to see Axl and GNR in December of 2011 and it was rad. Slash had a show in Indy that I didn't even know about until it had already happened, so I had to wait for the next album for him to be around here. Luckily for me, he's currently touring World On Fire, which came out in September of 2014. The venue is a solid 90 miles from my house, so I knew I would be in for an eventful (and long) evening. Longer than even I thought.
Upon getting about 20 miles away from the venue, all traffic on the interstate was at a standstill. I got maybe about 6 miles in an hour. Not only has there been heavy construction apparently all over I-69, but there was also a wreck on top of that. The doors opened at 7. Show started at 8. It was now after 7 and I was stuck on the interstate, with no chance of making it there by showtime unless traffic magically cleared up. I was eventually able to find a spot without a wall or steep embankment and pulled a U-Turn. My plan was to just get on the nearest country road and head in that direction until I could see traffic moving. Little did I expect that these "roads" were barely roads at all. More like pathways, sloppily hacked between cornfields, probably 100 years ago. Legitimate dirt and gravel roads. The kind that, from above, would appear to be stairs transplanted from the Nazca Lines. The kind that don't even show up on Google Maps. They might not have been actual roads at all, but instead access lanes for farmers.
Finally, I did make it back to the interstate, past where the blockage had been. Then I went to where my trusty GPS told me Piere's would be. It wasn't there. It was, in fact, a bank, which happened to be situated on the same property as an orphanage and/or group home. I ended up finding the place by dumb luck, just scanning around the area hoping to find something that pointed me in the right direction before 8 PM. I walked in right at 8, pretty weirded out that the "biggest nightclub in the Midwest" looks like an ordinary set of offices in a strip mall next to a neighborhood, with the inside looking like a mixture of a hollowed out sports bar and pole barn, all with mood lighting to hide the ravages of lifetimes of drugs, alcohol, and regrets. There is also a middle school and very large church near by. Plus all your normal strip mall fast food places. There is actually a Dunkin' Donuts in the same parking lot, which doesn't seem very metal to me.
Luckily for me, the show was running late. Being that this was my first show at a club instead of an arena or amphitheater, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I did expect quite a mark up on booze and my expectations were met: $8 for a 6oz. Crown and Coke. I strolled around to see the kind of crowd I would be a part of. Plenty of 80s rockers who never stopped rocking, even into middle age. Even more 80s rockers who traded in their hairspray and leather years ago for sensible Dockers and button downs. A surprising chunk of the audience consisted of 20-somethings like myself. I found a nice little corner spot where I would be able to safely stand on a chair and not be in anyone's way. I lost that spot when I forgot to take into consideration the diuretic nature of alcohol. The $6 18oz. beer (which I saw the con of: the servers make sure to spill about 30% of the beer when opening it, hoping you'll come back thinking "well that wasn't that much, I don't even have a buzz", suckering you into buying another stupidly overpriced beer. I only fell for it once. I'm very aware of the carny game at this point.) certainly didn't help matters. I found a spot pretty close to where I was and stood on the chair for most of the show, until the security eventually got pretty grumpy about a lot of stuff and started heading into the crowd to make everyone not standing on the floor or sitting move positions and would shine their lights in people recording the show. I mean, in 2015, how can you really prevent people from recording with their phones? And why would you?
At about 8:30, the opening act, The Last Internationale hit the stage. They're a sometimes 2, sometimes 3 member band that has opened for Audioslave, Rage Against The Machine, Robert Plant, and The Who. They were pretty rad. I've been to a lot of concerts and in my experiences, the opener has almost always sucked. This band did not. Delila Paz, lead singer and bass player, has a powerful, soulful voice that cuts through the heavy bass and standard rock drums. I would call their music, "hearty". Very meat and potatoes. They played for a little over a half hour. They were good. Here are some samples of their work if you're interested:
After quite a bit of sound checking and tune ups from the stage crew, Slash, Myles, and the rest of the Conspirators finally hit the stage. Despite the whole group being in their 40s (with Slash being 50), none felt out of place with long hair and skinny jeans. Slash has not slowed down a bit. In fact, he actually plays everything faster than on any of the original recordings of songs played. The stand out songs for me were Civil War, Slither, 30 Years To Life, and Welcome To The Jungle. Todd Kerns generally gets 2-3 songs to sing, always Dr. Alibi (originally performed by Lemmy) and one or two GNR songs. Tonight, it was Welcome To The Jungle, and it was rad. That dude has such a perfect 80s rock voice. He should probably be singing all the GNR songs. He's perfect for them. You would think he was bumming around the Sunset Strip in the 80s instead of being a star in Canada. Myles Kennedy is an interesting front man. Certainly not a showman in the sense of Axl/Tyler/Mercury/Jagger, but somehow manages to play to the whole crowd while throwing out winks and smirks to individual crowd members at the same time. His role as front man for Slash is definitely much different than it was/is with The Mayfield Four and Alter Bridge.
As a band, they are 100% in sync at all times. Extremely tight and accurate at all times. They clearly love playing together. While Slash is obviously the star and draw, counting the rest of the band out is silly. It's a great band. A great show. Myles takes a few breaks during the show, but the rest of the band never leaves the stage. Particularly impressive is the nearly 20 minute Rocket Queen, which on the surface just sounds like endless noodling from Slash, but is actually a doctorate level lesson where he plays through nearly every type and genre of guitar playing possible, all while throwing in references and shout outs to his own guitar influences (Satriani, Van Halen, Joe Perry, Eric Clapton, BB King, Keith Richards) all laid over one of the best GNR grooves. It's something that I usually skip when listening to shows, but live, it was really clear that that 15 minutes is everything he's learned and loved about guitar playing.
I've done the best I could to find the best live versions of the set list to give you an idea the live show was like. I took some pictures and video, but they didn't turn out well and I wasn't about to stare through a tiny screen all night when I was 40 feet away from the stage:
It was a rocking fucking time, friends. Should the band come to your neck of the woods, I highly recommend going.