The tragic news hit me like a ton of bricks the night before. Taylor Hawkins, the drummer of the Foo Fighters was dead at age 50 in Columbia while on tour. I didn’t know him and we have never met. Still, the news left me feeling broken. On this night, I made my way through security at Universal Studios Orlando with a heavy heart on my way to The Hard Rock Orlando,to see one of my other rock heros. Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators was on the night’s bill, it was a big show to be covering for All Music Magazine and I was pumped up. I have seen Slash at lease four times, but this night I was photographing and reviewing his show. I couldn’t think of a better way to get over my grief.
I was early, and the line waiting to enter The Hard Rock was long. At precisely 7:00pm they opened the doors and the crowd streamed in. Getting to my position above the sound board, I noticed “These Days” from the Foo Fighters was playing over the sound system and they were displaying images of Taylor. My sadness returned briefly until I realized that I was right where I needed to be; surrounded by rock fans in the midst of what we love.
Tash Neal kicked off the show in fine fashion. Tash Neal was one of the founding members of the rock duo, The London Souls. On this night, his solo tour was backed by The MJT Band, a trio of brothers from Long Island, New York. Matt Godfrey, David Godfrey and Jo Godfrey joined at an early age as jazz musicians, morphing into a rock and roll band. They came on stage and immediately got the energy flowing as they tore off three songs without taking a breath. After the third song, Tash asked the crowd to give a moment of silence for the horrible tragedy that took Taylor Hawkins from the world of rock and roll. My hollow feeling was still there, but it wasn’t as piercing as previously experienced. The sold out crowd remained silent for at least a minute and a half to show their respect.
Tash Neal and the MJT Band kicked it into gear with a highly entertaining and energetic set and closed it out with “Helter Skelter” by the Beatles. Tash Neal put on a great show and would really excel on a large outdoor stage with energy to spare. Remember his name. He is going to be making a lot of noise in the future!
Tash Neal – Lead vocals/guitar
David Godfrey – Vocals/guitar/bass
Matt Godfrey – Keyboards
Jordan Godfrey – Drums
The photographers were in place, the fans were getting anxious, then the lights finally dimmed and Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators were live on stage. The band started the show with “Driving Rain” and “My Antidote” off the 2018 release Living The Dream. Everything was clicking on all cylinders and it was wonderful seeing a band of this magnitude just enjoying what they do. Myles Kennedy’s incredible vocals carried the night, but Slash was the show and the audience was glued to his every movement. This was readily apparent as the cell phones in the audience tracked him from side to side as he moved across the stage. Of all the band members, it was Todd Kerns that intrigued me the most as he wielded his bass guitar while flipping his hair and singing backup. Todd had a big wide grin the entire show with energy to bare, he was having a good time! Frank Sidoris and Brent Fitz were equally impressive showman as they played to the audience.
The band played 21 songs from their catalog compiled over the past 12 years. Two covers were in the setlist, “Always on the Run” by Lenny Kravitz and Elton John’s “Rocket Man” to mix it up. But, to the crowds dismay, there would be no Slash signature solos on any Guns ‘N’ Roses songs on this night. Their latest album released on February 11, 2022, “4” has ten tracks and Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators treated the audience to six of them during the show.
The show added a song not yet performed on this tour, “Starlight” off Slash’s self titled album released in 2010. This song was dedicated to Taylor Hawkins. Slash introduced the song to the audience as he reflected on his grief and relationship with Taylor. Then he proceeded to sit on the edge of the stage and started picking his strings for the opening of the song. Myles quickly took a seat next to him and sang the first verse until the break when both men jumped to their feat and continued the song with the rest of the band. I have added the video at the end of this review. As I watched it again I am sadden at the loss of an energetic and jovial personality that I have admired as one of my top five current drummers. In time we all will move on as we have done before when we lose a talented musician with just another hole in our hearts.
There wasn’t any part of the show that wasn’t spectacular and the entirety of the theater let the band know with their thunderous applause. They may not be Guns ‘N’ Roses, but this is an allstar band of the highest quality and the sold out theater proved the point.
We’re gonna find it right before tomorrow
Oh Starlight, don’t you cry
We’re gonna find a place where we belong
Where we belong
And so you know, you’ll never shine alone
Starlight, we’ll find a place where we belong
Where we belong
She is broken as she waits…
1.) Driving Rain 2018
2.) My Antidote 2018
3.) Shots Fired 2012
4.) Halo 2012
5.) Back from Cali 2010
6.) Spirit Love *
7.) The River is Rising *
8.) Whatever Gets You By *
9.) Always on the Run (Lenny Kravitz cover)
10.) Shadow Life 2014
11.) Starlight 2010 (Tour Debut, Dedicated to Taylor Hawkins)
12.) Speed Parade 2011
13.) April Fool *
14.) Fill My World *
15.) The Path Less Followed *
16.) Doctor Alibi 2010
17.) Rocket Man (Elton John cover)
18.) Nothing to Say 2010
19.) You’re a Lie 2012
20.) World on Fire 2014
21.) Anastasia 2012
* Latest Album “4”
RIP Taylor Hawkins. I have no words to describe this loss. This video encapsulates the human being, the father, the husband, and showman.
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