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Back To Nature with Slash
by Debbie Seagle

In 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 . . .

My 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?

Admittedly, 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 t-shirts from 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. 

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