Slash is sweet child of the South Stand

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 March, 2011, 12:00am

Veteran rocker Slash concludes his Asian Tour in Hong Kong on Tuesday, just three days before the Sevens kicks off, and the former Guns 'n' Roses lead guitarist tips his famed hat to the event where his Sweet Child O' Mine number has become a stadium favourite.

'Over the last couple years I started to realise what an impact Sweet Child O' Mine had and it's flattering that Hong Kong Sevens fans like it so much,' Slash said.

The virtuoso axeman, named second-best electric guitarist of all time by Time magazine in 2009, is no stranger to the winning combination of rock 'n' roll and sport as he appeared with the Black Eyed Peas in last month's Super Bowl half-time show in Dallas.

Although he won't be able to play in person at Hong Kong Stadium next weekend, Slash acknowledged the crossover of rock and sports. 'Sports fans and rock 'n' roll fans are similar in the sense that fans have an unbridled enthusiasm for both,' said Slash, whose schedule takes him to Mexico for his next concert - ironic considering the Mexican team are making their first bow at the Sevens this year.

Slash confidently predicts the impact of his show will resonate through to Sunday. 'The trick to keeping an audience's attention is to keep them engaged, giving them a 100-plus per cent performance, and when that happens, that can stick with you for days,' he said.

Major music acts have become the ultimate Sevens warm-up in recent times. Last year Tom Jones set the stage when he performed here during Sevens week. In previous years, Cold Play were a headline act.

But the popularity of Sweet Child O' Mine makes Slash's visit especially well attuned to the coming weekend's revelries.

If not Sweet Child O' Mine, though, other GNR favourites could fit the bill. Welcome to the Jungle would be an apposite theme tune for the wildness in the South Stand and the album Appetite for Destruction could describe most fans' ambitions of demolishing a few beers.

The happy coincidence of Slash's gig this week gives the numerous Sevens fancy dressers another avenue to explore in their costume planning. Expect a few to turn up in top hat and long-haired wigs carrying cardboard guitars.

But the smart money is on a plethora of Nacho Libres, singing the Village People song in a new version, 'Nacho, Nacho Man' in honour of Mexico's tournament debut.

Mild-mannered corporate types are looking forward to adopting their latest alter egos in the dress-up themes. Or will they be altar egos by coming as Kate and William, or perhaps Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall? Could they make a pop/comedy splash as Katy Perry and Russell Brand? Or will they be channelling Paulie from Jersey Shore with a coiff bigger than any Mexican wave?

The Sevens is a chance for the corporate sector to showcase the economic resurgence in Hong Kong. For many, it's the chance for family bonding.

For others, it's a respite from a year of natural disasters, a chance to seize the day for three days straight while sparing a thought - and some donations - for those less fortunate.

From near and far, Hong Kong fans explain why missing the Sevens just wouldn't be rock 'n' roll.