Slash And Friends Rock Norway
Guitar hero – and his heavyweight friends – triumph in his only European gig this year. Come inside for the first review and exclusive photos of Slash’s sensational performance in Norway yesterday.
Words: Scott Rowley/Photos: Ross Halfin
Days after the Classic Rock Awards in November last year, Slash appeared at a news conference in Norway and announced that this summer he would headline the Quart festival in Kirstiansand, Norway, as Slash & Friends, an all-star band of guests.
You could be forgiven for having forgotten all about it. There were few further announcements about the appearance, no advertising outside of Norway. Slash, it seemed, was hard at work on his forthcoming solo album (due in the first half of next year). Last month his mother died of lung cancer. The likelihood of a Norwegian gig looked more and more remote.
You could have sympathy with the disbelievers because when he pulled it off last night (June 30), with guest spots from Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Fergie (of Black Eyed Peas), it was unbelieveable.
Backed by an all-star band including Jason Bonham, Chris Cheney (formerly of Jane’s Addiction), guitarist extraordinaire John 5 (Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie), and star-in-the-waiting Frankie Perez on vocals, Slash & Friends played a 19-song set of rock classics that, in a strong summer of classic rock events, stands as one of the highlights of the summer.
It started with Slash, Bonham, 5, Cheney and Perez ripping the arse out of Immigrant Song. Perez, a Las Vegas rocker who’s done his own solo album and worked with System Of A Down side-project Scars On Broadway, is the perfect fit – amiable but bad-assed and blessed with a voice that can handle a Led Zeppelin classic as easily as AC/DC’s Highway To Hell or Nazareth’s Hair Of The Dog. His take on Slither and Falling To Pieces, meanwhile, surely marks him out as the frontrunner for the vacant Velvet Revolver spot. (Backstage Perez and Slash revealed to Classic Rock that Frankie had been working with VR post-Weiland, before Slash’s solo album and Duff’s Loaded commitments put it all on hold.)
For Nightrain, McQueen’s Leah Duors takes over on vocals. Slash has long championed the all-girl band and Duors shows why, with a vicious Axl-with-PMT vocal, and a stage presence that belies her current little-league status.
After Leah, it’s time for the big guns. Rumours were that Ronnie Wood had fallen off the wagon again. It’s possible, but you can’t tell. The tracks Woodsy joins them for – Honky Tonk Women, Stay With Me, Knocking On Heaven’s Door (cheekily – or sincerely? – dedicated by Slash to Michael Jackson) and It’s Only Rock’n’Roll – were custom-built for sloppy, boozed-up playing. Teddy Andreadis plays piano and sings in a great Dr John meets Joe Cocker voice. It’s a riot.
Black Eyed Pea Fergie is next up. Cynical? Don’t be. She looks like a rock goddess, and she sounds like a rock god, taking Black Dog by the scrotum and hitting high notes that Mr Plant just can’t anymore. By the end of it the audience is a huge braying horny mass of Viking puppy dogs, with its tongues out and eyes on stalks.
Fergie: “How do you feel?”
Fergie: “I said how do you feel?”
The last time I saw Ozzy Osbourne perform was with Black Sabbath at Download 2005. Sabbath were sluggish, dreary and at the end of their tether. Tonight, by contrast, Ozzy is a ball of energy. “Lemme see your hands!” he shouts, and the whole field sways. The guy next to me starts walking around, randomly humping the legs of strangers. “Let’s go fucking crazy!” You’ve heard it a million times, but seeing it work like it does today is a sight to behold. John 5 brings Randy Rhoads back to life as they plough through Crazy Train, War Pigs, I Don’t Know and Paranoid. The sound is so big I swear it created a new fjord behind us.
Then he’s off and Frankie and Fergie are back on for Whole Lotta Love and Paradise City. The show ends, Fergie writhing on the floor, Frankie leading the charge, Slash soloing into the night. “This is one of the best gigs I’ve had in a very long time,” says the man himself.