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Review: Bryget Chrisfield. Photos: Jason Rosewarne

Rose Tattoo hit the stage ten minutes earlier than advertised, at the very un-rock’n’roll hour of 6.50pm, with Angry Anderson promising early arrivals will be rewarded with a surprise. He’s a simmering, menacing presence up there, slowly stalking across the stage and glaring at the crowd as if daring us to look away. The air-punching wonderment of We Can’t Be Beaten is an early highlight. Rose Tattoo are a well-oiled machine, alright, and they serve a smattering of blistering, gender-specific cock-rock anthems including One Of The Boys and Bad Boy For Love.

Wait, is that dude in a top hat… It can’t be! It IS! Slash struts out on stage while Angry explains the legendary guitarist/tonight’s headliner chose which Rose Tattoo songs he’ll perform with them this evening: Nice Boys Don’t Play Rock’n’Roll and Scarred For Life. We all scramble for our smartphones to document the craziness while also feeling smug to be witnessing something so incredibly special while other concertgoers unknowingly mill about buying beers and merch outside the arena.

Angry is clearly loving it and even throws in a bit of the old Blue Suede Shoes. Talk about an axe attack! Ronnie Simmons, who joined the band in 2022 following Bob Spencer’s departure, wanders across to Slash’s side of the stage for a closeup look and to play alongside him. Such a thrilling experience and it’s not even 7.30pm yet!

Primadonna Like Me is the perfect opener for introducing The Struts to the uninitiated. Even if you’re standing there with your arms crossed trying your very best not to get involved, it’s impossible to ignore cheeky-chappy lead singer Luke Spiller’s audience participation requests and we warm up our vocal cords thanks to the left-versus-right side sing-off he initiates. Spiller’s stage outfit is dapper as hell as well – waistcoat, some kind of cravat and white ankle boots – and we read he’s commissioned some pieces by Dame Zandra Rhodes, who designed for Freddie Mercury and Marc Bolan, which is apt. The flamboyant Spiller is a dead ringer for Mercury and his sweaty commitment to loosening us up for the main attraction is unparalleled. He certainly loves rolling his ‘r’s as coaxing spirit fingers within the crowd, before sneakily suggesting that we may as well all clap overhead to the beat since our hands are already in position.

We definitely recognise Body Talks, the band’s catchy song about boogying; it must’ve been synced to an ad or something? “Dance like EVERYBODY’s watching” – Spiller pretty much describes himself during The Struts’ ace new single Pretty Vicious. Seated crowd members are now upstanding and eagerly anticipating the main event. The Struts are outstanding and a lady in the dunny queue announces they’re “the coolest kids ever!”

Shout-out to the two dudes busting out The Worm – in unison, travelling backwards – in GA during The Struts.

An ominous intro tape and slowly rotating blue searchlights ramp up anticipation for Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators. Slash’s onstage attire memo is as follows: ‘I will be wearing a red T-shirt so everyone else please stick to wearing black.’ Okay, we thought The Struts were great but the millisecond Slash and co. hit the stage and rip into The River Is Rising our collective jaws hit the floor. What a bunch of talented FREAKS! Slash feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators are like Olympic champions on every instrument and they probably even play in their sleep.

“Slash doesn’t say a lot,” a neighbour in the crowd observes. But no banter is required, ‘cause Slash communicates all he needs through his guitar and we feel so very blessed to be alive at the same time as him. His riffs are nuanced as well, it’s not just all guns blazing all of the time. Furthermore, he spins and duckwalks while playing super-intricate licks!

Kennedy’s soaring vocals are flawless – we’re talking note-perfect (see: You’re A Lie) – as are towering bassist Todd Kerns’ harmonies. “Was anyone born after 1991?” Kerns cheekily inquires. While Kennedy rests his glorious pipes, Kerns takes the lead during their standout take on Lenny Kravitz’s Always On The Run.

Bad Apples reminds us Slash rose to prominence in Guns N’ Roses, but he’s now four albums deep with Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators so they have plenty of their own killer material to draw from for this evening’s two-hour set.

Kennedy points out they shot Slash’s MTV Classic: The Launch at Melbourne’s now-defunct Palace on Bourke Street 14 years ago. Fun fact: Angry jumped up to perform Nice Boys alongside Slash that night.

“It blows my mind that after a decade and a half we’re still doing this,” Kennedy marvels. “I had no idea this was gonna fuckin’ happen…” Ooft, we can’t imagine another vocalist on the planet nailing Kennedy’s ascending, escalating Starlight choruses.

While introducing Slash, Kennedy gushes that it’s an honour to play alongside him. A true icon, Slash’s star power is immense and you kind of forget how matchless he is – in a live setting – between visits to our shores.

During a stirring encore rendition of Elton John’s Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time), Slash plays pedal steel and we legit get teary while singing along.

A true fucking masterclass. Every single guitarist on the planet needs to do better. If you made it through tonight without pulling an abundance of stank faces you are truly dead inside.





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