Dublin’s Olympia Theatre has welcomed many a famous performer on her stage during her reign as the Queen of the Irish Music Scene. For two nights, this Dame is being courted by one of Rock’s crown princes. Each night, her balconies are bursting. Her ground floor is a seething mass of expectation. It’s been three years since last Slash played in Dublin and tickets were snapped up in minutes.
Sunday 3rd: The Sunday show hasn’t even started and there is palpable energy in the air. The buzz on all floors is electric. The lights drop and a voice introduces…. Charlie Sheen!!! The Warlock steps onto the stage to a rapturous reception and he tells us that he’s here to introduce “The greatest guitarist in the history of Sound—- SLASH”. The crowd erupts as Slash, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators move into the spotlight. Giving the crowd no chance to catch their breath they gallop through the formidable opening trio of “Halo/Mean Bone/Nightrain”. Slash is resplendent, every move and posture is calculated as the music flows from his very soul. One foot on the monitor, swathed in incandescent spotlight with signature Les Paul propped vertically from his knee. The Hatted One is God-like as his fingers blister along the frets.
Myles Kennedy is one of the most unassuming and polite frontmen in rock. He smiles and connects with audience members with natural affection and charisma. He sings his heart out as if to make amends for his ill health on the last visit. His voice is commanding and his delivery is faultless. From the driving insanity of “You’re A Lie” to the heavy metal assault of “Nothing To Say”, the pace is relentless. An unexpected highlight of the night is the performance of “Gotten”, Slash’s song for the homeless youth in LA. It’s one of those moments where Myles’ full range is on show and they create a special moment of beauty than will not be forgotten. “Ghost” is spectral and “By The Sword” carries a bluesy swagger. Myles slings on his guitar for an explosive “Mr. Brownstone”. Todd Kerns assumes vocal duties for “We’re All Gonna Die” and embraces his moment in the spotlight.
Over the last 3 years there has been a marked change in this outfit. They are now a true band with a cohesion and purpose that can only be gained by touring. Kerns, Frank Sidoris and Brent Fitz are the Rhythmical glue that holds the entire unit together as Slash and Myles are given free rein to enthrall the adoring public.
Slash dedicates “Rocket Queen” to his friend Charles who flew in from LA for the show. One of GnR’s most iconic songs, it features an extended solo section before the crowd pleasing sing-along finale. Through exhaustion, the audience is beginning to wilt. The slight dip does not last long as the sweet strains of Sweet Child of Mine drift from the PA to renew their vigour. Myles is visibly astounded by the volume of their accompaniment as they dutifully perform where needed.
Closing with the fist pumping barrage for VR’s “Slither” and encoring with “Welcome To The Jungle” and “Paradise City”. There isn’t a person in the venue who has not enjoyed the evening as they leave a blanket of confetti in their wake.
Monday 4th: A Sheen-less introduction means there is less distraction and if possible the Monday crowd seems more focused than the previous night. Darkness engulfs the stage; The Scoundrels from the night before return to the scene of the crime and kick into a slightly altered opening trilogy of “Halo/Been There Lately/Nightrain”. It’s the final night of the tour and each of them is not holding back. As Night Train kicks off, Slash launches himself into the air from the drum riser. It’s gonna be one of those nights when you know that blood, sweat and tears will be given for the love of Rock and Fucking Roll.
Smiling like a Cheshire cat, Myles scans the crowd and tells us “I didn’t think you guys could top last night, but you have”. That’s the cue for instant crowd delirium. “By The Sword”, a pummeling “Shots Fired” and groove-tastic “Back From Cali” are laid out for the fans to feed their fervour.
Todd Kerns introduces “Dr. Alibi” and dedicates it to Philomena Lynott. The godmother of all Irish Rockers nods her approval from the VIP area. This is her second night to be in attendance and she is having a blast. Kerns is an immense spectacle. Looking like a hybrid of Pete Steel and Frank Bello, he bounces around the stage as if he was born to live this rock n roll life to the max. His delivery of the aforementioned Alibi and Crazy is hard rock personified. From the balcony, the effect of “You’re Crazy” on the sprawl of humanity strewn across the ground floor is utterly mesmeric as bodies pulsate and rebound off each other.
With such a formidable back catalogue to dip into, how does Slash decide what to play? His tech hands him a double necked guitar. The crowd know what’s coming. Picking his way through the intro to “Civil War”, audience members are slapping each other on the back with that “I told you so” sentiment. Crowd and band become one as they joyfully proclaim “Peace could last forever”. Slash closes the song with a little ode to Hendrix. For a man who was once part of the last truly “dangerous” band in the world, one would think that as the years mellow the soul, an edge would be lost. Slash is still razor sharp with a hunger and creativity that has deserted a lot of his peers. This creativity is affirmed with “No More Heroes” and “Anastasia” which stand toe to toe with older material and are embraced by the fans as classics.
Myles Kennedy cements his reputation as one of the most accomplished modern vocalists. His delivery is faultless as he effortlessly glides between his upper and lower ranges. The spine tingling “Starlight” has been resurrected for the tour and it’s easy to see why. Slash steps up to the microphone to tell us; “You guys have been fucking fantastic. Tonight he drops the Godfather solo for to accommodate the instrumental “Watch This” and the sublime “Not For Me”.
Rocket , Sweet Child and Slither bring forth even more adulation and fanaticism than before, as if the crowd have been holding back. Everyone under the roof is giving it their all as they know that this is the end and the curfew is nigh. Before leaving for the encore, Slash tells us “This was the last night of the tour and we couldn’t have asked for a better place to finish”. There are few here that would disagree.
Closing with the ever-sumptuous duo of “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Paradise City”, Slash, Myles, Todd, Frank and Brent are alive and vivacious. During the closing solo, heads are banging wildly and clenched fists are pumping profusely as the confetti rains down in the Olympia.
In a country that is undergoing social turmoil, it is nights like these, where people leave their troubles at the door, embrace the euphoria, and for just over 2 hours, live without a care in the world, happy in the knowledge that Rock n Roll is still the beating heart of society. Slash has shaken The Olympia to her foundations and stirred the very soul of our beloved city. Dublin salutes you.
March 3rd Setlist
Halo, Mean Bone, Nightrain, Ghost, Standing in the Sun, Back from Cali, Mr. Brownstone, Serial Killer, Nothing to Say, Gotten, We’re All Gonna Die, Out Ta Get Me, By the Sword, Rocket Queen, No More Heroes, Starlight, Anastasia, You’re a Lie, Guitar Solo / Godfather Theme, Sweet Child O’ Mine, Slither, Welcome to the Jungle, Paradise City
March 4th Setlist
Halo, Been There Lately, Nightrain, Ghost, Standing in the Sun, Back from Cali, Shots Fired, By the Sword, Doctor Alibi, You’re Crazy, Civil War, Bad Rain, Watch This, Not For Me, Rocket Queen, No More Heroes, Starlight, Anastasia, You’re a Lie, Sweet Child O’ Mine, Slither, Welcome to the Jungle, Paradise City.
Photos by Down The Barrel Photography