Watching Ginger on stage at the NIA you are forced to wonder if he regrets some of the choices he made earlier in his career that mean he isn’t headlining tonight himself.
When Mr Wildheart and his band kick off with “Sonic Shake” even the people that aren’t necessarily as familiar with his material can see that they are dealing with a pretty special talent.
His half hour set is mercifully short on material from the poppy mish-mash that was “555%”but high on the fantastic and – and vastly underrated – Silver Ginger 5 record. There is a smattering of Wildhearts songs too, and “Vanilla Radio” sounds as good as ever. Ending, as always, with “I Wanna Go Where The People Go” Ginger, live at least, has never sounded better.
At 8.30 precisely Slash arrives on stage. His band billed as Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators, seem to have more respect for their audience than Axl and his mates who masquerade as Guns N Roses these days, which perhaps explains why so many people are in the arena tonight and why Slash remains thought of perhaps most fondly of all his former GnR bandmates.
Slash and his conspirators have just released the “Apocalyptic Love” record, which as clichéd as this is to say, really is the best thing that Slash has done since his Guns N Roses days. It is with a track from this “Halo” that they kick off their two-hour set tonight.
The second song in, however, sets the pattern. The unmistakable intro for “Nighttrain” begins and we are back to 1987 and “Appetite For Destruction” So it is that the rest of the evening unfolds. Slash is here to trawl through his career. So alongside a lot of Guns songs There are six tracks from “….Love” with RTM fave “No More Heroes” sounding fabulous and some from the “Slash” record from a couple of years ago, where Mr Hudson collaborated with a series of guests – and my how the record could have done with the cohesion that Kennedy has given the group now he is installed as singer.
RTM isn’t a fan of Alter Bridge but Kennedy is a fine frontman, as, it seems is Todd Kearns when the bass player takes over for a few songs.
It says much for the eponymous hero of tonight that he is content to stand in the shadows and let his band take the spotlight, while he looks cool in a top hat, knocking out some of the most recognisable riffs in the history of heavy rock. In fact even in his solo spot, the only time he could have hogged the limelight, he fetches out a young Birmingham guitarist, Chris Buck, to join him.
From here it is a race to the finish, with “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and Velvet Revolver’s finest moment “Slither” being played. There is a change of pace in the encore, with VR’s power ballad “Fall To Pieces” being thrown in, before “Paradise City” closes things.
It was a fine couple of hours in the company of a man who was responsible for some of RTM’s favourite songs - and if questions remain about whether he should have played quite so many Guns N Roses songs, surely they can be answered thus: There are as many original members of Guns on stage tonight as if Axl was here, and furthermore, he’s Slash and can do whatever he damn well wants!