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Manchester MEN Arena, 16/01//05

(reviewed by Nic Barroclough)


Well itís been a long time since I have been to a gig. I kind of lost touch with a lot of the current music scene with most of it not doing much for me. Infact the last gig I went to was two years ago when I saw Bruce Springsteen.

However there is a small number of artists/bands I have on my wish list left to see, having seen most of the ones I want to experience live. One of these is the legendary "Slash" of guns ní roses fame. Some may re-call my drumming forays on the local North Wales scene some years ago. Unfortunately university has taken itís toll on my drumming as my flat mates didnít appreciate the drum kit and the noise so it had to go (for the time being!) so for the past couple of years Iíve been hidden away in dark dingy student accommodation in Liverpool honing my guitar skills. Slash is one of my all time favourite guitarists. Sure he may not be as technically gifted as Steve Vai, Yngwi Malmsteem, he may not have then feel and emotion of Hendrix, but he has the look. If I were asked to describe what a guitar hero should look like it would be something close to the famous afro haired, cigarette smoking, hat wearing guitarist from "the worlds most dangerous band".

Anyway enough for the blurb, after the fall of the gunners slash formed a band known as Slashs snake pit. That split a few years back and recently he got together with ex gunners Bassist, Duff, and ex gunners drummer, Matt Sorum. They then employed ex stone temple pilots guitarist, Dave Kushner, and finally singer Scott Weiland, also ex stone temple pilots. Summer of last year they released their first album, "contraband" full of dirty rock n roll sings with classic rock riffs. At last I thought some music being released that has some balls and attitude. Makes a change from allot of the half hearted dirge thatís released these days. When it comes to rock music these guys know how to do it, having lived the real sex drugs and rock n roll lifestyle and indulged in many excesses (Duff famously in 1998 caused his pancreas to explode by drinking to much!). Nowadays they donít life quite such a wild lifestyle, the dressing rooms have a nice bottle of wine for Slash but no drug buffet as in the old days. But that doesnít seem to have affected their music in the slightest, infact some if itís better than the later guns n roses stuff (lets face it the gunners only really released one decent album, appetite for destruction). Anyway when I found out they were playing in Manchester I instantly diverted funds from my student loan towards going to the gig.

The atmosphere was electric. Stood right at the front, having been queuing up outside for 2 hours just so I could get this spot. Front right hand side, right in front of where Slash will be stood.

The Datsuns are the support band for the UK leg of their world tour. I had heard of them, but never really listened to them. However they come thoroughly recommended in my opinion. Was very impressed and the day after rushed out to buy their cd! And itís not very often you will see this student spending money on things other than whisky and beer these days! The Datsuns finished at 8:30, with Velvet Revolver due on at 9:00

9:15, still waiting, the drums have been set up, the amp levels set, the lighting guys on the rigging.

9:30 still no sign of the band. The cd they are playing to keep us entertained is on itís second spin. I am well aware that the last train back to Liverpool is in 45 minutes. Looks like Iím gonna miss it.

9:45 the lights dim, the crowd roar and the first chords of sucker train blues ring out. Lights up, and there they are showing the world how to rock n fuckin roll! Now the Datsuns were good, musically just as good as VR. However what makes VR a cut above a lot of other bands I have seen is they are alive ban. Their cd just doesnít do them justice. Scot Weiland is never still on stage, constantly running around, slash had his signature fag hanging out the side of his mouth. They donít just play music, they entertain you. They play 4 songs and then a nice surprise, the opening chords of the classic gunners track "Itís so easy" ring out, the crowd go wild. Scott Weiliand does his best to pull it off, and it is very goodÖÖunless you have heard Axl Rose sing it. Scott just could not give it the same justice that he does. A poor alternative to the gunners performance, but still awesome to get 90% of the original band their playing it! At the end of the song Scott points out "We are not fuckin guns ní roses, we are not the stone temple pilots, we are fuckin velvet revolver!" And off they go again playing more songs from their album. Now obviously being a new band with a limited number of songs (1 albums worth) they didnít have much to choose from so it was pretty predictable what was coming up. Until the final encore, Matt Sorum comes onstage and starts palying a drum solo, switching between the intro to the gunners "Mr. Brownstone" and the VR song Slither. Eventually they settle on Mr. Brownstone and again we are treated to another Guns ní roses track. The concert finally draws to a close with their most popular single off their album, "Slither"

By this time itís 11:30, the last train left over an hour ago. So I am destined to spend the night on the streets of Manchester. I go round to the stage door and hang around there. Unfortunately the band just came straight out in their limo and off to Birmingham for their next gig. The night on the streets of Manchester was a cold one, but the fires of the gig were still burning warm inside me. I missed my following mornings lectures at uni (didnít get back to Liverpool until 7:00 the following morning) been up for 24 hours, exhausted, but content that I had just witnessed a live performance by on of rock n rolls greatest guitar legends.


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