For fans of Guns N’ Roses, last night’s show at the Fillmore by the Kings of Chaos was probably the closest thing they’ll ever get to a reunion. For one night only, Slash, Duff McKagan, Gilby Clark and Matt Sorum took the stage, with some of their most famous rockstar friends, to jam on some old classics and raise awareness for Rick O’Barry’s Dolphin project. The night was touching, magical, nostalgic but most of all — unforgettable.
The sold out show at the world-famous venue began with Duff and Matt taking the stage along with the legendary Glenn Hughes/Deep Purple on vocals and Doug Aldrich/Whitesnake on the axe. They jammed on old classic Deep Purple songs like “Smoke on the Water” and “Highway Star” with the same passion and enthusiasm they had when they were young and wild; way back when Rock ‘n’ Roll was king. Glen Hughes’ voice and stage presence was nothing short of spectacular. His pipes combine a unique yet classic-rock wail with just enough grit to punch you in the face at his every command. Doug Aldrich stood to his right, and played flawlessly with a perfect mix of attitude and hair-flinging sex appeal that only legendary guitarists possess.
Next up were Sammy Haggar/Van Halen and Billy Duffy/Cult who strolled onto the platform with the grace and confidence that musicians of their caliber naturally exude. They jammed on some Cult songs that Sammy said he’s a fan of, but with one disclaimer — if he messed up the lyrics, “You can blame that other guy.” Although Haggar sounded amazing, he at times looked like the lovable crazy uncle that we’ve all experienced at the family barbecues, who runs around in Crocs, sipping on a red plastic cup normally reserved for frat boys, telling the same corny jokes. Nevertheless, the crowd couldn’t get enough of him. Duffy on the other hand played with the upmost passion and serious intensity that he’s known for, showing no sympathy for the poor custom gold Les Paul he was hammering away on.
The man of the hour came on next and sheepishly entered the stage to a bevy of GN’R fans thunderously clapping and screaming. Slash wore his same trademark top hat, and started to slowly hypnotize his audience with some tantalizing riffage and classic chord progressions. Myles Kennedy joined him on the mic and did a fine job singing some very difficult vocal lines. The whole time he remained charming and humble, most likely as a result of being surrounded by players he grew up listening to.
The event itself was organized by Matt Sorum and Ric O’Barry who runs The Dolphin Project, an organization whose mission is to end the senseless killing of dolphins. Yoav Ben-Shushan, another organizer of the concert explains that while living in Japan two years ago, he met Ric O’Barry and describes him as such an amazing guy and that he was blown away by the work he’s doing and the terrible experience of the dolphins that were being rounded up and sold or killed in the cove in Taiji, Japan.
He said, “Since the movie ‘The Cove’ was released and the world started paying attention, things have really changed, especially in Taiji, Japan. The local fishermen and police do a lot to hide the massacre from the world. I knew I had to do something to raise awareness and make sure dolphins and all marine mammals are treated like the super-intelligent beings they are. There are new battlegrounds such as the Solomon Islands and travel circus in Indonesia that needs attention as well.”
When the band played “Paradise City” as its encore, the anthem signaled the end of a show that not only supported a good cause, but also sparked a renewed interest in a classic form of hard rock that was once made famous by musicians like the Doors, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin at places like the Fillmore. As Matt Sorum put it towards the end of night:
I’m about to cry right now. Are you guys even aware that we’re standing on the same stage that Jimmy Hendrix has played on!
Sadly, the amazing history of the Fillmore seems to be a forgotten one, but one person that hasn’t been forgotten is Axl Rose, the enigmatic ethereal original singer of GNR, that was missing from the event. The fantasy of him sitting in a dark corner of the venue, watching the show and slowly making his way to the stage, although romantic and dreamy, was unfortunately not in the cards that evening, as he was nowhere to be found. The reality is that he most likely opted to stay at home instead with his cat Dijon, enjoying a glass or two of some fancy Chardonnay (he’s probably upgraded since his Night Train days), uninterested in reliving the past and rekindling old relationships. He’s once said in an interview for Adelaide Now about the possibility of a reunion, “I understand the ‘romantic’ thing, the desire, the fantasy. Personally I haven’t wanted other bands to reunite, or really enjoyed it when they have. For me generally something always seemed missing.”
Fortunately for everybody that night — nothing was missing.
Learn more at www.DolphinProject.com