Recorded, as the title suggests, in Stoke earlier this year, featuring one of the region’s most famous adoptive sons, Made In Stoke (see what they did there?) is that all-too rare thing in this modern downloadable age: a double live CD actually worth owning.
Coming at the arse-end of the lengthy, globe-straddling tour that ensued in the wake of Slash’s first bona fide solo album in 2010, this is less a solo performance, more a for-real band of top-drawer rock musicians giving it to you at the very peak of their powers. It’s also an unashamed everything-but-the-kitchen-sink show, including many of the highlights from Slash’s career, from Guns N’ Roses to now, via Velvet Revolver, Slash’s Snakepit and any other old place the guitarist fancies going.
No caveats about not playing the hits, no big deal about allowing singer Myles ‘Mr Miracle’ Kennedy to do his best Axl and/or Weiland impersonations. Everything is suddenly up for grabs, and that lends the whole project a glorious feelgood factor so high you’d have to be a serious grump not to go with it.
Having Kennedy by his side has obviously helped Slash let loose. Having struggled for years searching for a frontman that could do it all – sing, write, play, and ride with the old stuff as easily as smoking a cigarette – in the Alter Bridge singer Slash has finally found the right guy to do what even Axl Rose never could: truly complement him on stage and off.
Hence stupendous versions of Paradise City, Patience, Sweet Child O’Mine and the rest, sitting pretty right alongside equally head-turning versions of VU’s Slither, Snakepit’s Been There Lately, and some of the highlights from that guest-laden solo album, not least the two tracks Kennedy co-wrote: the anthem-in-the-making Back From Cali and the best ballad Slash has had a hand in writing since you know when, Starlight. There’s even a wonderfully emotive rendition of the old Godfather-themed guitar solo Slash first extrapolated more briefly during the Use Your Illusion tours of 20 years ago.
Back then it was a nice interlude. Now it’s a tour de force that speaks volumes about where the guitarist has come from, where he’s been lately and where he’s going next – as I write, finishing off a studio album with this same band that’s due out in March.
On the evidence of this, it promises to be one of the albums of the year.