The Coca-Cola Roxy, a 3,600 capacity theater that rests in the shadow of Truist Park in a northern suburb of Atlanta, hosted Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators on a drizzly Friday night in Georgia. Supporting Slash on this leg of the tour was Harlem-based musician Tash Neal, a founding member of rock duo The London Souls, with the MJT Band in tow.
Given that the weather was fairly iffy all day Friday, my son and I ventured out early to The Battery (essentially the restaurant row with condos above that sits adjacent to the venue) for dinner, only to pass at least 50 fans already standing in line at the Roxy an hour and a half ahead of doors. I hadn’t seen this type of fan behavior in what seems like years, so I can only assume it was a combination of both the vaccine mandates being dropped and the show remaining general admission. Who doesn’t want to snag an early spot in front of an icon like Slash?
Warming up the crowd was guitar player/singer/songwriter Tash Neal, a native New Yorker who released his first full-length solo album, Charge It to the Game, back in March 2021. Neal’s traveling band also uniquely included three brothers, Matt (keyboards), Dave (guitar/bass) and Jordan “JoJo” Godrey (drums), otherwise known as the MJT Band.
In advance of the show, I had to do a little research to better understand Neal’s background, and boy does he have a story of survival to tell. During preparation for the release of The London Souls’ third album, Neal was in a serious car accident and nearly died back in 2012. He was in a taxi cab that was t-boned by a drag racer in downtown Manhattan and had to undergo brain surgery before being placed in a medically induced coma. It is no wonder his newer music is so soulful and laced with emotion, including the song “Boomerang” (video below) which reflects upon his near-death experience while also highlighting the opportunity for a fresh start at life.
There were some in the crowd I overheard comparing Neal to fellow New Yorker Lenny Kravitz, as his groovy musical approach also has strong influences across blues, jazz, funk, and even reggae-rock. In fact, Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys also produced the tracks “Like A Glove” and “Catching Up” off Charge It to the Game, which shows you just the type of company Neal has surrounded himself with.
Neal and MJT played a mesmerizing, yet short, 30ish-minute set, so hopefully next time I make my way up to the Big Apple, they are performing around town.
Tash Neal with MJT Band
Tash Neal – Lead vocals/guitar
David Godfrey – Vocals/guitar/bass
Matt Godfrey – Keyboards
Jordan Godfrey – Drums
Shortly before 9pm the venue lights went dark to eerie horror film-like theme music, followed instantly by the capacity crowd throwing up every cell phone in the audience to capture video of the opening moments. As Slash, Myles Kennedy and the rest of The Conspirators took the stage, I received the funniest text from my son up by the stage that would describe the rest of the night – “Here comes the squish.”
As has been typical on this tour, and as noted in fellow contributor Scott Diussa’s All Music Magazine show review from Nashville on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 the band opened with “Driving Rain” from their 2018 album, Living the Dream. It is worth mentioning that this song didn’t even exist the last time I saw SMKC, which was back when they opened for Aerosmith on the “Let Rock Rule” tour in 2014. In fact, that tour pre-dated the Guns N’ Roses “Not in This Lifetime” reunion tour, and hence the setlist back then was still filled with GnR and Velvet Revolver hits. With five solo albums now to his catalog, including four with Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators, do not buy tickets to this tour expecting to see Slash perform “Welcome to the Jungle.” You’ve been warned.
Rather than dissect the setlist, I am going to focus on two key observations and experiences from Friday night. First, SMKC as a band are super tight musically, and clearly are having a ton of fun out on the road. I even caught a photo of Slash smiling! (see below). Kennedy, Todd Kerns (bass) and Frank Sidoris (guitar) interacted a ton with the adoring crowd, and every time I looked back at Brent Fitz behind the kit, he had a grin from ear to ear. Kennedy’s vocals are so spot on smooth, and he handles the stage with an almost business-like presence, but never taking it too seriously. The Friday night crowd was definitely energetic and blowing off steam (and somewhat drunk?), to which Kennedy said the band was enjoying the “great vibe.”
Second, whether through laziness or incompetence, I still have yet to listen to 4 in its entirety since its release last month (and I have Spotify Premium!). That actually gave me the opportunity to take the approach we all had back in high school, when you would go to live shows to HEAR new music, and then DECIDE if you liked it enough to buy (even if we just click a button now).
SMKC performed seven of the 10 tracks from 4, including the first released single, “The River is Rising.” While I have heard (and love) that track, the unfamiliar song that really touched me live was “Fill My World.” Kennedy has admitted in interviews (and again on stage in Atlanta) that the narrative of the song was inspired by his frightened dog, but if that is where he drew inner strength to layer on his heartfelt lyrics and vocals to Slash’s amazing chord progressions, I owe his dog Mozart a subscription to BarkBox.
The final pre-encore song of the night was “World on Fire” from the 2014 SMKC album of the same name, which included an extended, mouth-gaping solo performance by Slash (where he even broke his high E string mid-solo and kept playing). The band played on behind Slash, but all eyes were on him as he showcased why he is considered one of the best guitarists of our generation; the instrument is truly an extension of his physical and mental being. Upon finishing “World on Fire,” the band walked off briefly before returning and completing the night with a lively encore of the immediately recognizable “Anastasia” from their 2012 release, Apocalyptic Love.
As the lights came on and fans started filing out, I caught another great fan exchange. I heard one guy jokingly (and obviously sarcastically) say to another friend, “Hey, who was that guy in the top hat? He’s pretty good. I think he has a future ahead of him.” If this show was any indication of what Slash and the guys are capable of in the years ahead, I’d say yes, the future is bright for all fans of R&FnR.
1.) Driving Rain
2.) My Antidote
3.) Shots Fired
5.) Back from Cali
6.) Spirit Love
7.) The River is Rising
8.) Whatever Gets You By
9.) Always on the Run (Lenny Kravitz cover)
10.) Standing in the Sun
11.) Fall Back to Earth
12.) Speed Parade
13.) C’est La Vie
14.) Fill My World
15.) April Fool
16.) Doctor Alibi
17.) Rocket Man (Elton John cover)
18.) Nothing to Say
19.) You’re a Lie
20.) World on Fire
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Elliott is a music photographer covering shows in Atlanta, Georgia, and the surrounding area. The highlight of his photography career was back in the early ’90s, when he sold Neil Diamond the rights to his negatives from a show and then purchased a set of tires for his 1979 280ZX during college with the money.