Maybe this all didn’t happen Wednesday night. Maybe, on my walk through the parking garage leading to The Mirage, someone flung a brick at my head and knocked me cold, and the whole tableau played out in my concussed consciousness.
Perhaps the great ventriloquist and soon-to-be Mirage headliner, Terry Fator, was not joined onstage on a pool deck usually reserved for seminude sunbathers by the famously long-bearded Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. Maybe it was a dream that Jason Bonham, the shaved-headed percussionist son of the late John Bonham, didn’t crash through a piercing version of “Whole Lotta Love” as onetime Jane’s Addiction and Porno For Pyros frontman Perry Farrell crawled across the stage wailing that we needed to keep the party going because, “We don’t wanna die, do we?!” It could be that former Spacehog vocalist and deposed husband of Liv Tyler, Royston Langdon, didn’t blithely scream the lyrics of “Stone Free” and “Jean Genie” into a temporarily dead microphone to a throbbing audience that didn’t seem to notice, because Slash and his searing Gibson guitar were hoarding the spotlight.
Yep, it could be that Stacy Ferguson, or just “Fergie,” didn’t really sashay onstage in skin-tight black Spandex pants and a grey T-shirt emblazoned with a gold L.A. Dodger logo for a hair-raising version of “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” fairly dry-humping the former Guns ‘N Roses lead guitarist as he nimbly unleashed his signature solos. And it might be my imagination that Fergie, in the midst of covering Heart’s “Barracuda,” might have fallen short of Ann Wilson’s vocal dexterity but executed a move Wilson could never pull off – a trio of one-handed summersaults. And maybe the entire surreal experience didn’t close with Slash cutting into a very tall birthday cake shaped like his trusty Gibson, topped by a quite-familiar black top hat, and a wildly diverse mix-and-match group of celebs singing, “Paradise City,” – with Fator, Farrell, comic actor Tommy Davidson and Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains providing a glistening-with-sweat Fergie with backing harmonies.
But it all did happen. As proof, I still wear a white wristband reading “Bare pool lounge,” and am suffering what might be a pair of perforated eardrums.
Oh, and happy birthday to Slash, who turned 43 (and should know better) yesterday and last night. Forgive those of us who did not bring gift baskets to Slash-A-Palooza. But the 600 or so revelers who paid $100 a pop surely couldn’t have anticipated the sample plate of rockers (and the odd ventriloquist) who thundered through a 2 ½-hour spectacle at The Mirage’s finest water feature. Others who ambled on and off the stage included bassist Mike Inez (also once of Alice In Chains); Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello; Will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas, Senen “Sen-Dog” Reyes of Cypress Hill; Emma Taylor, Winston the Turtle, soul singer Julius and Dougie Scott Taylor (Fator’s handy puppets); and Perla Hudson, the mistress of ceremonies and also Mrs. Slash. That’s discounting a video montage assembled by Perla – who seems so at home with the mic that she could emcee her own variety show -- that featured Rainn Wilson, Ellen DeGeneres, Dave Navarro, Tommy Lee, Sammy Hagar, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (playing trumpet to great effect) and Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen.
There was a tepid rumor early that the night that the event might feature a Guns ’N Roses reunion of sorts, but it never happened. It’s just as well. Who had the time?
Songs covered by some or all of this band of misfits included the G’N R classic “It’s So Easy,” assaulted by a heaving, wild-eyed Langdon; “Superstition” and “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” by Farrell, a man who seems born to wear the bright-red pants and matching red-and-black satin jacket; “Wish You Were Here,” by Cantrell and Inez; and “To Kill a Man,” by Davidson, Sen-Dog, Will.i.am and pretty much everyone else on or near the stage.
No wonder the man of the moment could only mutter, “I am completely f-ing overwhelmed.” That statement pretty much captures Slash, a man of few words but many chords who has managed to fill the guitar hero roll as well as anyone for the past 20-plus years. At one point, during “It’s So Easy,” the cat in the hat ripped into a solo, casually tossed a spent cigarette butt into the photographer’s pit at the front of the stage, then spun around without missing a note. Niiiice.
The crew made it to the Beatles Revolution Lounge for extended play, and much of the amped-up crowd met them there. I lasted maybe an hour before the corner man in my brain threw in the towel. On my way out of the hotel a woman dressed like Sweet Loretta Modern of “Get Back” strutted toward me and asked, “Wanna have some fun?”
I just laughed. She had no idea.