Alter Bridge, Halestorm and Mammoth WVH Live At The O2 Arena, London, 12th December 2022

Alter Bridge - July 2022 Band Promo Photo

Alter Bridge are loved on UK shores like nowhere else on Planet Earth. Tonight’s show at London’s O2 Arena marks the end of their fifth UK arena tour in eleven years. The band have come a long way since that first Wembley Arena show in 2011 which was recorded for a live album. The biggest snowstorm the UK had seen for a few years hit just in time for the tour’s closing night, but thousands braved the weather with the prospect of a great night to come.

Kicking things off on this blustery, cold evening in Greenwich are Mammoth WVH (6). Main man Wolfgang Van Halen recorded and performed all the instruments on the 2022 self-titled Mammoth WVH album, and he’s amassed a full crew of talented musicians for the biggest tour of their fledging career so far. Their performance is fine, if unremarkable. For those not hugely familiar with the album, some of the songs sound quite similar, with only Think It Over (“My Dad’s favourite”) and the closing Don’t Back Down standing out from what sounds like standard US radio rock. There’s some promise here, but it’s not been fully realised yet.

Halestorm (7) are usually a mightily impressive live outfit. But what’s different about them now with the last couple of albums under their belts is the sheer variety of song styles in their catalogue. They can delightfully rip your heads off one minute with Love Bites and seduce you the next with Bombshell. Lzzy’s vocals are supercharged, even for her, on a spine tingling rendition of old favourite Familiar Taste Of Poison.

The set unfortunately takes a downturn with Arejay Hale’s obligatory drum solo (have Halestorm EVER played a show without this happening?) and, if you’ve seen it more than once, you’ll know exactly how it went, giant drumsticks and all. The title track of new album Back From The Dead brings things back to positive territory, and it’s a combination of old favourites I Get Off and I Miss The Misery that bring this sprint of a set to a close. The latter is curiously transformed from a three minute ripper into a seven minute jam session; When the set only had time for nine songs in it, the time would have arguably have been better spent including one of the many huge songs they didn’t have time for (I Am The Fire, Amen, Vicious and Mz Hyde – take your pick). There was much to enjoy with Halestorm (as there usually is), but it felt like they did not make the best use of the time they had. Therefore this has to be summed up as good, not great.

Halestorm Setlist:

The Steeple
Love Bites
Wicked ways
Familiar Taste Of Poison
Drum Solo
Back From The Dead
I Get Off
I Miss The Misery (extended jam version)

Alter Bridge (10) on the other hand, are so hot from the first notes of the opening Silver Tongue they’re on fire for their entire 1 hour 45 minute set. The new songs from recent album Pawns and Kings including the previously mentioned Silver Tongue and This Is War sound monstrously heavy in the best possible way. They slot in naturally alongside the likes of Addicted To Pain and Before Tomorrow Comes as if they’ve been in the catalogue for years. All four members are on peak form, with a performance befitting the biggest arena stage in London. The setlist has been mixed up too; A much greater focus on debut album One Day Remains than they’ve had for some time, but with thousands belting out Shed My Skin in unison, it seems a popular choice. Mark Tremonti took the helm vocally on Burn It Down, giving an old favourite a new twist.

The mid set run of Cry Of Achilles, In Loving Memory (performed acoustically), Blackbird and Pawns and Kings was an experience to rival any run of songs from any of rock or metal’s big bands in recent years. From thunderous riffs to tugging at heartstrings, only to then hit the heaviest moment of the night in the breakdown of their new album’s title track, it had everything you could possibly ever want from an Alter Bridge live show. Mixing Isolation into the WWE’s greatest rock or metal theme song of all time, Metallingus, went down equally well. Hearing fifteen or sixteen thousand people belt out that chorus is a live experience that will never get old. With their oft used encore combo of Rise Today and Open Your Eyes bringing things to a close, the masses in London were sent out into the cold feeling warm and fuzzy inside from what they’d just witnessed.

Those who braved the snow and travel disruptions more than got their money’s worth; They saw a brilliant show by a band who have been more than ready to take their place as major rock festival headliners in the UK for a very long time. Download Festival head honcho Andy Copping was in the crowd this evening, and if he wasn’t convinced by this to push Alter Bridge through the glass ceiling to headline status, then he never will be. Arguably Alter Bridge’s very finest hour on UK shores (the once in a lifetime Orchestral Royal Albert Hall shows notwithstanding).

Alter Bridge Setlist:

Silver Tongue
Addicted To Pain
Ghosts Of Days Gone By
Before Tomorrow Comes
This Is War
Shed My Skin
Burn It Down w/ Mark on vocals
Cry Of Achilles
In Loving Memory (acoustic)
Pawns and Kings
Wouldn’t You Rather

Rise Today
Open Your Eyes

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