Ever since Alter Bridge’s tour with Halestorm and Shinedown was announced back at the beginning of April, for many people it’s been the most eagerly awaited tour of the year. Rocksins like thousands of others headed off to Wembley Arena to see if things lived up to expectation…
Openers Halestorm (6) had plenty of their usual fire about them and Lzzy Hale’s voice was once again on top form but their twenty five minute set time meant they weren’t fully able to get going. The cover of Judas Priest’s Dissident Aggressor from the Reanimate 2.0 Covers E.P was truly impressive and shows Halestorm are well equipped to go heavier should they choose to. The expected finale of Here’s To Us brought proceedings to a swift, sharp conclusion and much more can and should be expected from Halestorm when they return for headline shows in the UK in Spring 2014.
Main support Shinedown (7) were greeted with a roar often reserved for headliners. This reviewer has never previously understood the appeal of Shinedown, and having now seen them in the flesh, it’s an opinion that hasn’t changed. What is evident is that it was a minority opinion on the night, and to give credit where it is due Shinedown performed extremely well. Frontman Brent Smith, sporting a refined hair cut akin to a US military sergeant worked the crowd very well, handing out roses to a few lucky ladies and one lucky guy and fuelling the crowd with uplifting talk of rock and roll being in the soul amongst many other things. Recent single Bully brought things to a conclusion, and judging by tonight’s reaction Shinedown could be headlining Wembley Arena themselves in the not too distant future.
Tonight was only ever going to be about Alter Bridge (10), and so it proved. From the opening bars of Addicted To Pain all the way through to the end of the night closing Isolation, this performance was an absolute clinic in how to give a headline performance at a sold out arena rock show. The crowd, who admittedly were loud for Shinedown, cranked up several levels for the opening Addicted To Pain and remained there without dipping for a moment for the rest of the show.
The set had everything an Alter Bridge fan could have ever wanted: A backbone of fan favourites from Blackbird supplemented by choice cuts from the other three albums. The songs from the band’s brand new album Fortress sounded particularly good with the aforementioned Addicted To Pain & Cry Of Achilles going down a storm. Alter Bridge are undoubtedly a band who listen to their fans, proven by the fact that Myles Kennedy told us all the band were slated on social media for playing around with their setlist and omitting one of their breakthrough songs Metalingus from the set on the opening night in Birmingham. Having admitted it was a mistake, Wembley Arena got Metalingus in all it’s glory and then some with a particularly fierce rendition.
Myles Kennedy was in fabulous form throughout, both in terms of vocal performance and interacting with the crowd and was a laid back yin to Brent Smith’s motivational speaking yang from earlier in the night. A few minor issues with the sound levels on occasion didn’t stop Mark Tremonti from providing a masterclass in playing lead guitar while Scott Phillips and Brian Marshall were their ever efficient selves. It was a night where it was almost impossible to single out individual moments of brilliance, but the acoustic Watch Over You never fails to give a chill when heard in person and it didn’t disappoint as the sold out crowd sung every word along with, and then back to Myles.
The encore was also very memorable, but perhaps for the wrong reasons from Myles Kennedy’s perspective as he messed up the intro to Slip To The Void slightly. He then let us know, with typical good grace he’d been dreaming of “fucking up that intro for years, so I’m glad I could do it with 12,000 of you here in London”. Just one more memorable moment in a night that will live long in the memory for all the right reasons.
The Alter Bridge Setlist Was:
Addicted To Pain
Come To Life
Before Tomorrow Comes
Farther Than The Sun
Brand New Start
Cry Of Achilles
Ghost Of Days Gone By
Ties That Bind
Watch Over You
Open Your Eyes
Slip To The Void
Tonight proved what most in attendance already knew; Alter Bridge are the most important and consistent hard rock band of their generation. They have amassed an enormous fanbase with very little mainstream media coverage (at least in the UK) but they are living proof that if the music is good enough, more and more people will find it and grow to love it. A Download Festival headline slot (or sub-headline at the absolute minimum) must surely beckon for Myles, Mark, Brian and Scott within the next two years. It is nothing less than they deserve.
Alter Bridge’s new album Fortress is out now on Roadrunner Records. Rocksins’ Fortress review is available to read here. Keep up-to-date with Alter Bridge’s on the road exploits by following the band on Twitter at @alterbridge.