Review: Slash goes acoustic for exclusive unplugged set at Tampa's Hard Rock Cafe

Slash and Myles Kennedy goes acoustic for exclusive unplugged set at Tampa's Hard Rock Cafe

Top hat? Check. Ray-Bans? Check. Solid-body Gibson Les Paul?

Actually that's the one piece of the classic Slash ensemble we didn’t see Wednesday at Tampa’s Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The iconic guitarist and his vocal partner in crime, Myles Kennedy, took a break from their tour with Aerosmith for an invite-only acoustic performance at the Hard Rock Café.

While the concert was open only to VIPs and contest winners, Slash offered hope for a future gig for the rest of us, saying: “We’ll come through here next year. We’ll be here sometime in the spring.

Odds are that show will be classic, electric Slash. So the rare glimpse he offered the Hard Rock of his skills on an acoustic hollow-body Gibson was quite a treat indeed.

It was a short set, only six songs, and it wasn’t really a preview of Slash’s forthcoming album World on Fire, which was recorded partly in Orlando – only one new song, the swampy backcountry number Bent to Fly, made the cut. And while most of the songs were from Slash’s solo output, they were smartly chosen, showing the range that helped Slash bridge the gap between hair metal (Guns N’ Roses) and grunge (Velvet Revolver).

With Kennedy offering perfect blank-slate hair metal vocals, each song was simply an excuse to get to Slash’s solos, like the falling-star twinkles of Fall to Pieces or the early ’70s country rock of Starlight.

But nothing, of course, can top his riff to GNR’s Sweet Child O’ Mine, which closed the night.

Invariably ranked at or near the top of just about every classic guitar-solo power poll, Sweet Child O’ Mine’s nimble intro isn’t terribly difficult to replicate on an acoustic guitar – just ask any sales associate at Guitar Center – and Slash faithfully did that, plucking out the clean, crisp, almost pizzicato notes that everyone wanted to hear. With Kennedy mewling “Where do we go now?” in a nasally quasi-Axl moan, the sleek Hard Rock even felt a bit like an arena.

After the set, Slash donated a few signed guitars to Hard Rock International, including the one he played Wednesday. Maybe it’ll stay in Tampa. And maybe if Slash comes back in the spring, he’ll bring a Gibson Les Paul. It’d make a nice matching set.

SETLIST: Standing in the Sun, Back From Cali, Fall to Pieces, Bent to Fly, Starlight, Sweet Child O' Mine

Credits: tampabay.com

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