November , 2011
Review by Vinny Cecolini
"Live: Made In Stoke (24/7/11)"
Label: Armoury Records
Saul "Slash" Hudson is a stranger in a strange land; a rock star with an iconic image and guitar-God talent at a time when neither matters. He's somewhat remedied this situation by working as a hired gun; appearing both live and on record with so many other artists that he was recently parodied on South Park as a mythical, Santa Claus-like figure. Sadly, Slash is a myth, one that harkens back to the '80s when stories of rock star mischief and misadventure made tabloid headlines; when entire albums mattered and were not collections of filler sandwiched around a few hopeful hits. That's what makes Slash's new live record, Made in Stoke (24/7/11), disheartening.
The two-disc set's concept is spot on: Slash returns to his birthplace - Stoke, England -- to perform for the first time in front of friends and family he has not seen in decades. The set list features songs from throughout the guitarist's career and he's at the top of his game, especially during renditions of Guns 'N' Roses classics like "Nightrain" and "Paradise City," and during his inspired "Godfather Solo." This release, however, is like flawed gourmet cake that appears to be baked to perfection, but comes up just short: it looks incredible, includes the best possible ingredients and tastes okay, but there is something missing.
This is not a bad set, but it is recommended with some reservations. With a talented backing group that includes vocalist Myles Kennedy, you'd expect great things, but this performance often sounds as if Slash is playing his heart out with a local cover band. As good as Kennedy is--check out his work with Alter Bridge--he is neither Axl Rose nor Scott Weiland. He does a great job on Snakepit songs and Slash's solo material, but his shortcomings are painfully obvious as he tackles "Sweet Child O' Mine" and Velvet Revolver's "Slither."
Slash deserves better, even at a time when live discs are soundtracks for concert videos (yes, a special edition of this set that does feature a DVD of the show). One can only hope that either Velvet Revolver finally settles on a new frontman - Kennedy would be a great choice, if the music was written for his vocal style - or that Axl Rose comes to his senses and fashions a version of Guns 'N' Roses includes Slash. He is simply too talented to waste.