To Nature with Slash
todayís Backstage Pass we will be taking a trip into the jungles of the
Rocknworld in search of the illusive North American Hairgod! This
majestic species has been known to migrate from the United Kingdom to the
North American plains and has been found in literally every state and province
in North America. This amazing creatureís habitat is being deforested
by rappers and boy bands, and precious few are still living in the wild.
And when I say ďwild,Ē I MEAN wild! They can bite, and scratch, but
thatís another story. The North American Hairgod roams the plains
in search of its own kind as its numbers dwindle. This specimen is
usually found in garages, clubs and stadiums, sustaining itself on Jack
Daniels whiskey, buffet foods and European cigarettes. If we are
lucky, we may find one, but donít try this at home boys and girls.
Remember, Iím a trained professional . . .
assignment, attend the Slashís Snakepit gig, check out the new line
up and the new tunes on ďAinít Life Grand,Ē and get to the man himself
for a little chat. Many say that Guns is back, but Iím one of those
near sighted people who only see one Gun there, and heís a Rose.
Iíve long been a fan of Slashís guitar moves, and Iím pretty attached to
my Guns and Roses CDs, but Iíve spent years now longing for that old Guns
magic again. That unbridled guitar euphoria and runaway rock rhythms
that I loved back in the day. I listened to some of the stuff Slash
did during his Blues Ball period, and I checked out the first Snakepit
CD (Its Five OíClock Somewhere), but none of that ever conjured
up that old feeling. You know, the one where the music is so kickin
that you bite your lower lip, close your eyes and bang your head in mid-air?
I think that both of Slashís previous projects were things that he did
in order to keep busy, while still thinking that Axl would come around
and want to make another rock album. They both had that ďside projectĒ
feel to them and it just wasnít the same. The chemistry just wasnít
right. Looking at it from an industry perspective, its difficult
for someone who has been a wildly successful and accomplished guitar player
to leave a mega band and start a new one on his own if he isnít going to
sing. As a lead guitar player and the name that sells, you need to
find a charismatic front man (or woman) to get your band out there, but
you donít want them to eclipse you. By the same token, you canít
come out and play like youíre going to leave skid
marks on your lead singer either. Itís a delicate balance.
So Iím wondering, did Slash finally achieve this balance? The short
answer is yes. For the long answer, read on . . .
I found the illusive hairgod exactly where
my trusted scout said he would be. Running late to arrive at the
venue, we didnít have a chance to chat prior to the show. Slash steps
in and hurries by me with an imported cigarette dangling from his lip.
Iím comforted by the fact that he still looks like the same ol Slash from
back in the day, but the proof is still in the set, so I hurry around to
the front of the stage to take my place and get ready for the show.
The audience is filled with Guns and Roses fans, some still wearing faded
tours past. Would this be their salvation, or would they leave disappointed?
I had my suspicions, but I wanted to see and feel the rubber hit the road
before I made any judgments.
The house lights go down and in an instant,
Iím standing in front of that same ol Slash, in his natural habitat.
Its enough to make you want to belt out ďBorn Free,Ē but thatís so schmaltzy
I cringe. Iím looking at Slashís trademark top hat, his lanky leather
clad frame and the hair Ė everywhere, of course. Including in his
face. I make a mental note to go for broke tonight and actually try
to get a look at his face.