MONDAY, JULY 30th, 2012
Review by: Matthew Joel Phillips
Photos by Micah Gummel
Fredericton, NB CANADA
Monday night was alright for headbangin’ in Atlantic Canada’s mecca for metal (Moncton, NB) with the return of Slash to the hub city roughly 25 years after his former band Guns ‘N’ Roses opened there for The Cult in 1987.
Returning as an established solo artist, Slash and his band “The Conspirators” (featuring Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge on vocals and Canadian Todd Kerns on bass) filled CasinoNB to capacity and the crowd never stopped rockin’ for 3 straight hours.
Tickets for the general admission show went on sale roughly 4 months in advance and quickly sold out. Another block of 120 tickets (and then another smaller block of 30) were released by promoter Sonic concerts later in the summer, and were also quickly snatched up.
Every summer Moncton plays host to the biggest outdoor concerts in Atlantic Canada drawing huge crowds for the likes of U2, Faith Hill and AC/DC . While epic and a once-in-a-lifetime events, the nasty stories of hour long waits for the Porta Potty, mud pits up to your knees, $6 bottles of water and drowning rain have kept me away from these shows. Instead, I’ve kept returning to Moncton to see much smaller shows in a much different environment at the new Casino, just off the highway as you enter Moncton.
This was my first time attending a general admission show at CasinoNB which — for previous concerts The Beach Boys and INXS — were sit-down affairs. With the chairs and bleachers removed it looks like they were able to cram in at least 800-1000 more screaming fans and the atmosphere was considerably more exciting.
CasinoNB is a great indoor venue, and free of chairs it felt like a giant club, minus the choking smoke and shitty sound of your typical bar. The CasinoNB theatre has great sound and carpeted floors (much appreciated after 2 hours of slamming around) and two big screens that flank the stage with live footage during each show.
After making a purchase at the merch table (a custom Slash tin with 6 picks), I got in line around 5:30pm and waited until 7pm for the doors to open with the others diehards who were already ahead of me. Black “Slash” hoodies + t-shirts sold for $70 and $35 respectively, and I saw a few younger fans plop down the $100+ for the combo. I would have bought a T-shirt myself, but instead I wore a free T-shirt that came in the mail with Slash’s new record.
Speaking with fans in the lineup, many had waited decades to see Slash, and it’s no question that Moncton loves its metal bands.I noticed a lot more security for this show, at 3 different entry points, with body searches and metal detectors. The security I talked to were all very friendly and they let me pass through the hallways of the Casino (even though you were supposed to make your way outside to get from one end to the other).
I stood in line at the entrance to stage right where — I was informed by some female fans who had “done their homework” — Slash was going to be standing all night. The doors opened right at 7pm and the quick rush inside put me about 4 people back from the stage.
Standing not far from me was a gigantic boy of maybe 19 or 20, who stood at least 6.5 ft tall and hopefully didn’t hear the extremely rude comments being slung his way for blocking people’s views. They had nothing to complain about compared to the father/son combo standing directly in front of me. The son was all of 9 years old and sporting his own Slash-inspired hat. A guy in a tank top to my left had a dark tattoo of Slash on his right shoulder.
Monster Truck from Hamilton, ON opened the show at 8:15pm. Formed in 2009, the 4-piece (guitar, bass, drums, synthesizer) sounds like a dirty mix of Wolfmother, AC/DC and Lynyrd Skynyrd (which is curious as none of those bands are listed as “Influences” on their Facebook page).
You can download Monster Truck’s 4-song album “The Brown EP” for free from their website, and to my best recollection they played all 4 songs live, plus 2 or 3 others.
Once Slash hit the stage, he was wearing one of Monster Truck’s T-shirts, a “DON’T FUCK WITH THE TRUCK” classic black tee with white lettering.
Slash and his conspirers hit the stage right at 9pm with “Halo” — the 6th track on their recent “Apocalyptic Love” album — a song about throwing down your halo and living for the moment. “Halo” has a slow intro, and it’s not what I would have chosen for an opening number, but the separation of guitar and then bass and drums probably makes it a good choice for the soundman to get things just right. The opening number was ultimately forgotten in a flurry of camera phones as soon as Slash hit the stage, and most of us were so stunned to see Slash in person it didn’t matter what song they were playing.
For the next two hours they played 20 songs, dipping into Slash’s solo material, the Snakepit album, one song from Velvet Revolver, and of course 6 classic Guns “N” Roses songs from “Appetite For Destruction” (which is 25 years old this summer).
Two of the biggest crowd reactions early on came during songs #4 (“Back From Cali”) and #6 (“Beggars & Hangers-On”), very singable songs from Slash’s solo material, and personal favourites.
For “Dr. Alibi” (song #9), Slash introduced Todd Kerns “(Where is he? This tall motherfucker behind me…”) but not before telling an anecdote of “sharing some war stories” with Guns “N” Roses’ first tour manager about when they first played Moncton in 1987, before the band broke. Opening for The Cult (who were riding the “Electric” album) they played 3 songs in Moncton in 1987 before some “shenanigans” (as Slash put it) ended the show.
Canadians might know Todd “Dammit” Kerns from his previous alternative band, Age Of Electric (1989-1999) where he was the frontman, playing along with his brother John Kerns (on bass). Age Of Electric’s first hair-band inspired single was “Aphrodisiac Smile” (1991), followed by 6 other singles in the mid ’90s, like “Ugly” (1995), and their biggest Canadian rock radio hit, “Remote Control” (1995).
Todd stayed on lead vocals for song #10, “Out Ta Get Me” a real highlight for me exactly halfway into the 2-hour set. It’s one of those classic hard rock songs about troubled youth that was never a single for GNR but is always a fan favourite live. I was smiling and screaming my way through the song with another guy in hipster glasses directly behind me and for the next 10 songs we pretty much tore it up.
In fact I wasn’t the only one smiling. Slash and Myles couldn’t help but crack smiles at the reaction from the crowd all night. Said Myles: “Moncton, I’d ask you how you’re feeling, but I think I already know…”
Slash played 3 long solos over the course of the evening, including the theme to Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather”, which Slash says he’s watched more than any other film. I would have traded two of those solos for a few extra songs, but it’s hard not to be impressed when Slash is playing a solo. He does have a tendency to face stage left when he solos, so I wasn’t able to see his fingers when he was center stage (instead opting to take a few peeks at his fretwork via the video screens).
Curiously “Sweet Child O’ Mine” wasn’t an encore song, and the girls on my left lost their minds when it was played during the last 3 songs of the set.
Velvelt Revolver’s “Slither” was the last song before the encores, with a great crowd shout-back “Hey! Hey!”. Earlier in the tour, the band was playing another Velvet Revolver song, the rock-ish balled “Fall To Pieces”.
We barely saw Slash’s rhythm guitarist Frank Sidoris who stayed put on the left side of stage for most of night. He didn’t play on Slash’s records and auditioned for the “Conspirators” live band during last Super Bowl Sunday weekend.
Drummer Brent Fritz is very melodic, and though I could never really see his face, behind his kit were fans that blew from under his hair to keep it moving in crazy wisps all night long.
The final two songs of the night were “By The Sword” from Slash’s self-titled 2010 album, and of course “Paradise City”.
There was a little unnecessary shoving during “Paradise City” and I did my best to protect the little boy in front of me (along with his Dad). The little boy was already tired by the time Monster Truck opened the show, but sitting on his father’s shoulder during “Sweet Child” he was completely mesmerized.
I watched a few people body surfing in the center of the crowd and fall down hard. I screamed “Fail!” into the ears of the hipster guy behind me and he decided to try his luck at bodysurfing and made it to the front-center of the crowd. We slam-danced along with “You’re A Lie” and “Slither” and patted eachother on the back at the end of the show.
Black and silver confetti fell during at the end of “Paradise City” marking the end of the show at 11am (and also making it near impossible to find picks and stuff lying on the ground at end of show).
I wish they had played a few more encores, say 3-4 instead of 2. The crowd was certainly up for it.
Back in 2010 I saw “GNR” play the Moncton Coliseum (with Sebastian Bach opening). Standing in the bleachers for GNR, it felt like a very different show than being on the floor close-up for Slash. Someday I’d love to see the outdated Coliseum torn down (it really has horrible sound) and be replaced with another great live venue. But for now I am really enjoying the more intimate shows at CasinoNB.
- Back From Cali
- Mr. Brownstone
- Beggars & Hangers-On
- Not for Me
- Rocket Queen
- Doctor Alibi (Todd Kerns on Vocals)
- Out Ta Get Me (Todd Kerns on Vocals)
- No More Heroes
- Apocalyptic Love
- Guitar Solo / Godfather Theme
- Sweet Child O’ Mine
- You’re a Lie
- By the Sword
- Paradise City
To Read About SLASH at the House of Blues Boston, Click HERE!