Gear talk for the GAS-afflicted.

Your First Time, and Apocalyptic Love… Live.

Your First Time, and Apocalyptic Love… Live.

Aug 20, 2012



Kids, in the summer of 2005 I had just come back to New Zealand and had arrived in the unfamiliar city of Christchurch to start a new phase of my life – university. I had made the careful decision to enrol at the University of Canterbury for a number of important reasons:

  1. They sent me an acceptance letter first.
  2. I had heard that there was a Velvet Revolver concert happening there.
  3. Oh, apparently the engineering school was pretty good.
  4. I had heard that there was a Velvet Revolver concert happening there.

We all know by now how much of a Slash freak I was, and having just spent a decade living in Malaysia where no good rock bands ever went, I was determined to get to my first kick-ass rock show. It was scheduled for roughly a week after I was due to arrive, so things needed to be in place before I even hit the ground. Thus began…

The Plan

At this point I hadn’t left home yet, didn’t have a NZ bank account, no access to a credit card, and I didn’t think my parents would understand this whole rock show business, so I couldn’t really ask them for help. What to do?

I emailed a childhood friend who was amazing enough to help me purchase one golden ticket to the Velvet Revolver gig, such that when I arrived in Christchurch I’d be ready to go. Sorted!

In Motion

I was all set. I left the uni hostel, got a cab, and got a ride to what was in those days called the Westpac Arena, I think. The line wasn’t very long, and I was so fucking excited it didn’t matter anyway. This was in the days after Dimebag had just been murdered onstage (RIP), so security was tight. The funny thing was, they gave me a big pat down, and then let me through… without checking my ticket!! Doh.


What. An. Amazing. Show. VR’s first album Contraband remains one of my main influences, and hearing it out loud, live, was just… bliss. I’d never been to a real gig before, and I was right in there in the crowd, about 5 or 6 people from the front, and it was just beautiful madness. It was so hot and humid in there with the full house that I remember jumping up just to get to the layer of cool air above the crowd for a breather.

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the gig seeing as I didn’t own a camera back then, but it was just magical seeing Slash running back and forth on the stage, Duff with his bass slung low keeping the rhythm like a bad cop swinging a billy club, and Matt Sorum finally sporting a hairdo that didn’t come from the 80s. Scott Weiland was on form vocally and put on an engaging performance in the slippery androgynous and yet steel edged way that only he can.


I remember leaving the arena, and it was a rainy, cold night. I didn’t know anyone, and I was, simply put, alone. For some godforsaken reason there were no cabs around, so I had to ring one and wait desperately for it to show up, not quite knowing what I’d do in that alien city if the one cab company I knew the number for didn’t send a cab out.

But none of that mattered, because…. well, because. That first gig is something that sticks with you, and it’s something that I’ll always remember like it was yesterday.

Speaking of yesterday…

Well, technically yesterday since I’m writing this at 1.26am all hopped up on adrenaline… I just went to see Slash live, again! He’s touring with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators in support of his new album, Apocalyptic Love, which we actually gave away recently to one lucky person as part of the review of the Marshall AFD100 head.

I digress. In an odd sort of symmetry (and I’m a big fan of Milan Kundera’s life symmetry concept), I had decided to go down to the Christchurch gig instead of the Auckland one, and it turned out that it was being held… at the exact same place that I’d first seen Velvet Revolver, a whole 7 years ago. A lot has changed about the city since the earthquakes, but it just seemed like a deja vu moment that I was back there, and in that area, basically nothing had changed except the name of the arena.

Von Voin Wtf?

So the opener was this local band called Von Voin Strum… I think. I’d never heard of them but apparently they’re big enough to be opening for Slash. Well, that was a bad choice. What happens when you get an indie band with a poser frontman who’s copped every Robert Plant move in the book and combined it with indie freakout stylez, who then proceeds to headbang to a rather tame breakdown?

A rather unlikeable band, that’s what. To be fair, I kinda liked what the rest of the band were doing, but I just wanted to punch the singer every time he tossed his hair and twirled around. However, the guitar players got some niiice Tele and Strat tones through a pair of Fender Hot Rod Deluxes. And the single most amazing thing about this band was this – the motherfucking SIDE. MULLET.

Side. Mullet.


Anyway, they played, they were tight but I didn’t really like the music. Bring on the Slash!

Apocalyptic Live

Just awesome. The gear geek in me spied 3 x Marshall AFD100 full stacks, as well as an Ampeg stack and a rack full of “Wizard” amps for the new touring rhythm guitarist. I’ll have to find out more about it later. I also spotted this young lady a few rows ahead, wearing her love for Slash… on her studded hotpants. Did I say the side mullet was the best thing ever? I clearly lied.


Back to the gig. No, really.

First, Myles Kennedy appeared like a pied piper of rock.

Then the man we’d all been waiting for. Mr Saul Hudson, aka… SLASH!!!! He was certainly on form as he buzzed between one side of the stage to the other, looking like he hadn’t slowed down a tick since he was a lean, mean 20-something trying to  scratch out a living on the Sunset Strip. Myles and Slash together look like old buddies, and the dynamic was amazing. Myles’s voice was possibly the best I’ve ever heard it, and it looks like he’s finally coming into his own and becoming more comfortable with the back catalogue instead of feeling like an awkward guest vocalist.

They ran through a decent number of songs from the new record, as well as some from his first solo record. Off the new record, my favourite song would have to be Anastasia, the almost neo-classical riff pounding away into a great vocal line by Myles. In true rock star fashion, Slash broke a string just as he went into the solo – unfazed, he ripped the string off and proceeded to burn through the rest of the solo using what he had. Awesome stuff. They also did some of my favourites from the last album – Back from Cali, performed to perfection by Myles, as well as Ghost, the track that has the best “Slash and Izzy” vibe (well.. it IS Slash and Izzy) since the GNR era.


They dived into the GNR classics as well, although disappointingly they didn’t do Mr Brownstone. Classics like My Michelle, You’re Crazy, Sweet Child O Mine and Paradise City were well represented.

Disappointingly they didn’t do much Velvet Revolver, although they did Slither, which made me happy. They also did Fall to Pieces, which is one of my favourite songs in the world, ever. It made me really happy that I was basically within arms reach of the barrier, watching Myles sing his heart out on that amazing power ballad, originally conceived from deep within the twisted psyche of Mr. S. Weiland.

We were also graced with a number of instrumental solos from Slash – they started off with a bit of a boring blue shuffle, but eventually he transitioned into his iconic solo piece – the Godfather theme. Sublime. With Paradise City, the night ended with a bang, and I was pretty impressed with ending up so close to the front, and the fact that I’d survived it! In another fit of symmetry, it was a rainy night as we left… and people were complaining about how there were no taxis.

Here are a couple more pics:


Your turn

I want to hear from you guys – what was your first gig, and what are your strongest recollections about it? I’ll see you in the comments section – Samurai out!!

PS – how do you like the new look of the website?


  1. That VR tour you talked about was epic: saw them at the Supertop. Easily one of my favourite ever shows.

  2. Ross Blakely says:

    Cool story Slashed. My first concert that I remember clearly was Gary Glitter as bad as that sounds. It was at the Christchurch town hall as I grew up down there. Ayway t he start was amazing…pitch black and 2 sets of drums hammering out a kick and tom primal beat, then a Harley roars on stage with you know who on it and then they slip into. …rock and rollllll Hey! Rock and roll etc. Yeah I was 12/13 and I thought that was great.

    Good change for the site, nice font for samurai, haha, very japanesey. Slash sounded like a great gig too.

    1. thesamurai says:

      Haha that’s awesome! Just the kind of story I wanted to hear. At least you got to a real gig at 12… I had to wait till I was 17! Two sets of drums? Was it drumkit and percussion, or just two big kits?

      Thanks for the feedback on the site. Haha yes, that font is going to be the Samurai signature from now on. Seems appropriate.

  3. Yeah, that was a life changing moment for me! So what was the first big gig that you went to, Stu?

  4. James Morgan says:

    My first gig was in ’95, Goo Goo Dolls, No Doubt and Bush at the anaheim pond in L.A. Was probably 16. No Doubt blew me away with the sheer energy they put out on stage. Other major experiences, Being with boot licking distance of Zakk Wylde at a Black Label Society gig, and every Foo Fighters gig ever. I went to VR too, Slash is also my god.

    1. thesamurai says:

      That sounds like a cool gig! I’d actually love to see Goo Goo Dolls, weird as that may sound. The man’s got a cool voice. I still haven’t made it to a FF gig yet!! Probably should go to one soon, otherwise it’ll turn out like when I never got around to seeing Red Hot Chili Peppers, then Frusciante quit the band.. AGAIN.

  5. Sty says:

    Great writeup Ed, and yes Slash was awesome last night, probably the best performance I’ve seen him and his band do since the first Use Your Illusion tour at Wembley Stadium. I loved the fact he played My Michelle and while I missed Mr, Brownstone I think I’d rather have My Michelle. Feels brilliant that we’ve got major artists coming back to CHCH.

    My first gig was seeing Trust at Blackburn King Georges Hall in about 1980 I think, it was their Repression Tour from which the track Antisocial came (which was covered by Anthrax). I was still at high school so it was all so new, the gig was poorly attended so we had no trouble getting to the front row.

    Memorable things about the show were seeing a very your Nicko McBrain on drums for Trust, someone I’ve seen many many times since then when he was playing with Maiden.

    The other memorable thing was seeing a very young, very pissed lead guitarist in the support act fall over and knock his Marshall stack over – the Roadie who picked him up was not impressed. The band were StreetFighter and the guitarist was John Sykes…

    After Trust I saw Girlschool and then Gillan (featuring Janick Gers) before I saw my first truly massive gig which was Iron Maiden on the first or second show of their World Piece Tour at Preston Guild Hall, but that’s a whole nother story.

    1. thesamurai says:

      You sir, have seen some cool live gigs. I’m really jealous of all the stuff you got to see back in the day! Ah, the cool stories.

      1. Sty says:

        I thinks because I’m old!

        so don’t envy that ;)

  6. Teko says:

    Nice seemed to be very close to the stage! Lucky you, when I went to see Slash at Sunway Surf Beach (in the country where no good rock bands ever came), he was about as big as my little finger from where I was standing lol.

    And yes, Myles Kennedy can reallly RIPP! \m/
    Still remember him as the God of THUNDAHHHHH!!!

    1. thesamurai says:

      Haha yeah I spent about half the gig maybe 8 rows back, and the final half an arm’s length away from the barrier. The pics turned out really well!

      Well when I was a kid I don’t remember anyone good ever coming to Malaysia, sorry if that sounded a bit condescending :P

      Yup, I actually did the whole God of THUNDAAAAHHH thing when I was way up the front, but unlike the movie Rock Star, unfortunately he didn’t pick me out of the crowd and then go for a “piss”…

  7. pip says:

    I saw the Velvet revolver concert in Chch and I didn’t think it worked all that well – no group dynamic in my opinion.
    Saw Scott Welland in Auckland (this year I think) and he was sooooo much better. Now that was a great concert.
    Also loved last night’s concert. Thought Myles K warmed into it and got more comfortable as the gig progressed. Came away really rating it as a great gig. Well worth the trip down from Wgtn.

    1. thesamurai says:

      Hi Pip – nice to see a new name in the comments, hope you stick around! :)

      I guess everyone has different views on things – mind you, I may have my rose-tinted glasses on when thinking about the gig, but I definitely felt that there was no lack of larger than life supergroup dynamic and vibe. Especially considering that three of the guys (Slash, Duff and Matt) had spent the best part of a decade in a band together!

      However, I don’t doubt that Scott would have been most comfortable in his original element (Stone Temple Pilots). I guess it just comes down to history and how comfortable the guys are with each other. It sounds like I probably should have gone to the STP gig! On the other hand, Scott has made some strange claims to returning to VR ( which Slash flatly denied… so, you never know what’s up with that dude!

      Definitely agree though – well worth the trip down from Welly!

  8. pip says:

    Mighty pictures!

    1. thesamurai says:

      Thanks man! Yeah I was stoked with the way they turned out – although you should see the number of blurry/out of focus/random hand in the way ones that I chucked out…

  9. Karlos says:

    Cool review – much better than the review by lady from The Press who didn’t even know the names of the songs played haha! I thought this show was up there with some of the best I’ve seen. Myles Kennedy was in fine vocal form and Slash was amazing! Great to hear some classic songs from Appetite being performed so well. Rocket Queen was a highlight for me as that’s one of my all time favourite songs!

    First concert I attended was actually Guns N Roses up in Auckland in 1993. Was at a packed out Mt Smart stadium and Skid Row opened for them. Good times!

    1. thesamurai says:

      Thanks Karlos! Haha yeah I read that review, and from the early comments it looks like she already edited out a few other song name mistakes as well. It’s a little bit silly to pretend to be an expert and then get caught out later!

      Rocket Queen was AWESOME, how did I forget to mention that. The solo was really cool too, although I was a bit gutted he didn’t get the ol’ Talkbox out.

      Wow, GNR and Skid Row back in their heyday – ideal first gig. I love Sebastian Bach – hopefully he’ll be coming back to NZ sometime soon. Last time I saw him he was opening for Axl and the Robots at Vector about 4-5 years ago I guess it must be.

      1. Karlos says:

        Yeah the Talkbox would have made that solo almost perfect :-)

  10. Flea says:

    My first gig was The Rolling Stones in the Westpac Stadium in Wellington I was about 15 and it was amaaaaazing! What a show, outstanding performances by all, so high energy :) Only down side is how does anyone compete with that (in my mind) haha nah I have seen some amazing concerts since then but what an awesome way to enter the concert world :D

    1. thesamurai says:

      Wow! The Stones, that would have been a cool show. When’s the last time they came to NZ? Who opened for them when you saw them?

  11. Percy Ottershaw says:

    I recalls seeing Rory Gallagher in the Christchurch town hall back in the mid 70’s and he was fun – quiet little subtle numbers like tatooed lady (LOL) and the first amped resophonic guitar I’d heard (playing military two step). Dipstick concert reviewer of the press said it looked like a banjo inlaid into a guitar. Anyway found out a year or so back he’d died so that puts the kibosh on seeing him live again.

    It was easier to be at Canterbury Uni back then too as the site was in town (what is now the old arts centre) and you could get pissed as a chook at the gresham hotel before staggering to a concert.

  12. […] I was down in Christchurch recently to see Slash and Myles Kennedy in concert, I realized that it was a prime opportunity for a Samurai Review Roadtrip (trademark pending)! My […]

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