Slash – review

Hammersmith Apollo, London

Pity the diehards who attended last month's Guns N' Roses tour: 90 minutes late on stage was standard, and one northern gig ended not long before dawn. Their former guitarist, on the other hand, has got the hang of punctuality: Slash arrives at 9.15pm, delivers 20 songs without undue fuss and winds up just in time for last orders. He needs to watch that – surely he doesn't want the surprisingly large number of teenagers here to think it's acceptable for a rock star to be on time and get the job done.

His most rock'n'roll act of the night, in fact, is choosing as support band the reunited 1980s electropoppers Minny Pops, once dubbed "the Dutch Joy Division". They mystified fans with a set that was at once retro and futuristic, and seemed unsurprised to be rewarded with resounding boos.

Slash, of course, has never been remotely futuristic. He embodies values as old as rock itself - this gig is all about showmanship and volume, the underlying message being that it's possible to escape the 9 to 5 treadmill, even (especially?) if you are essentially a top hat with a guitar attached. He's got the hits to back him up – musically partnered by singer Myles Kennedy, an amiable wailer who is hopelessly overshadowed from the start, he fills the set with his catalogue's big beasts.

Guns N' Roses' Sweet Child o' Mine is still vital and steel-spined, but also a platform for the Stoke-born guitarist's sentimentality; it ends with a burst of God Save the Queen. Slither, from his Velvet Revolver period, seeps out seedily – he'd have made a fine blues player – and Anastasia, from new album Apocalyptic Love, is a musclebound anthem that has him pointing his guitar skyward, tearing off riffs till he's breathless. Axl Rose: watch and learn.

Contributor

Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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