Raw rock and roll ruled in Stroudsburg

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First Posted: 5/12/2015

For many older music fans, the sound of the rock and roll they grew up on could seem like it’s been lost somewhere between corporate pop and the classic rock radio stations. While today’s popular touring acts tend to forget the raw feel of stadium rock and roll, a few bands keep the music alive with more intimate theater and club shows.

One musician keeping the tradition alive knows the feeling all too well, as his former band was arguably the biggest name in music from 1990 to 1992 and packed stadiums with the raw intensity of their music. The band was Guns ‘N Roses, and 23 years later, the groups famed lead guitarist, Slash, continues to bring raw rock and roll across the world with his latest project, a band featuring vocalist Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators, who stopped by the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg last week for a sold out party.

When it comes to the music of Slash, there are many different angles to look at. There’s the obvious Guns ‘N Roses material, but the man has been writing music for solo albums for 20 years, along with material from the short but loved project, Velvet Revolver. In Stroudsburg, Slash packed all the material into a thumping two-hour set, which saw the top hat advocate bring high levels of energy to some of his solo material like a driving “Ghost,” and a straight-forward “Back from Cali.”

Even on the material from the band’s latest release, “World on Fire,” the band – Slash, Kennedy, Brent Fitz, Frank Sidoris and Todd Kerns – sounded amazingly tight on cuts like an upbeat “Wicked Stone,” a raucous “Avalon,” and a groove-heavy “The Dissident.” Not to disappoint his fans, Slash paid homage to his GNR days with cuts from “Night Train,” “You Could Be Mine,” and a Kerns-sung “Welcome to the Jungle” sprinkled throughout the set. While enjoyable to see Slash with his long, black hair, top hat and leather vest playing a Les Paul to the songs you want to hear him play, the energy of The Conspirators are the perfect addition. Not to be out done, Kennedy and his perfect rock and roll voice were in fine form with flawless renditions of the classic tunes.

Even when they went back to the latest material, the sound that follows Slash throughout his career was alive and well with a slow-but-infectious “The Unholy,” a darker “Bent to Fly,” and a fiery take on the new album’s namesake, “World on Fire.” Dipping back into the GNR catalogue, the band delivered an extended take on “Rocket Queen,” which saw Slash deliver a 10-minute solo complete with everything from blues to ear piercing shredding.

Following a fine take on the recent hit “Anastasia,” the band stopped and right on cue, Slash kicked into the unmistakable riff to the GNR staple “Sweet Child O’ Mine” which immediately sent the crowd into a frenzy. While the guitarist can probably play the riff in his sleeps, the energy of The Conspirators gave the song a powerful boost. Kennedy’s commanding stage presence enticed one of the loudest crowd singalongs of the night. Dipping into the Velvet Revolver catalogue, the band ended the main set with a thumping take on the hit “Slither.”

After a brief break, the group re-emerged and all eyes were on Slash as he broke into the famous intro to the GNR classic “Paradise City.” As they did all night, the band brought the intensity as the crowd shouted along to the chorus, before blasting confetti during the song’s wild ending. It was the perfect way to end a night that celebrated what rock and roll is all about.

Earlier in the night, New Zealand’s Like a Storm delivered a lively 40-minute set which served as their last opening gig for Slash on this tour. Between Slash, Kennedy, The Conspirators and Like a Storm, it was a show where energetic raw rock and roll ruled the night, and if the reaction of the sold out crowd was any indication, it was much appreciated.