Straight off the back of the release of their fifth studio album The Last Hero, Alter Bridge are touring worldwide showcasing their American hard rock style.
Like A Storm did a superb job of kicking the evening off, doing what every good support band should do: get you absolutely hyped for the headlining act. Personally, I wouldn’t say the New Zealanders were anything too special, but I have to admit that their somewhat interesting use of a didgeridoo in metal was insanely clever, and sounded great.
“The first half of the set was an Alter Bridge fan’s dream…”
I had a burning question answered when the second act came onto the stage, and that question was: why are there so many metal fans here? Sure, Alter Bridge have fans from all walks of music, but there was a small pocket of what seemed like die-hard metal fans at the front of the crowd and as it turned out they were there for French metal band, Gojira.
Gojira were incredible and generated an amazing atmosphere in the arena. Their heavy sound resonated throughout the whole crowd from the collection of true fans at the front, right out the far reaches of the seated attendees.
Volbeat’s upbeat vibes and clean vocals provided contrast from Gojira. Frontman Michael Poulsen is the one of the most likeable performers, and a brilliant showman. He had lighters in the air, the seated viewers on their feet, and everyone in the arena singing along with him; especially when they used Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire’ as an intro for their song ‘Sand Man’s Tongue’.
As good as the Danish group were, one song ruined the set for me, when Poulsen introduced their special guest: Mark ‘Barney’ Greenway. Greenway clearly wasn’t in tune with the feeling Volbeat had created up to that point, shouting down the mic (and before anyone comments, I’m a fan of screaming in metal, but this was something else), and making what could only be described as vomiting noises over the outro of their collaborative song ‘Evelyn’.
It felt like ages until Alter Bridge began, the crowd were suspended in anticipation until finally the silence was broken by their new song ‘Writing On the Wall’. Alter Bridge’s sound has progressed closer towards metal over their last few albums but there was no preference as to what songs they performed. Myles Kennedy’s vocals were as good as they are on any album.
The first half of the set was an Alter Bridge fan’s dream, with constant hits from past and present such as ‘Ghost of Days Gone By’ and ‘Island Of Fools’. The second half of the performance was when they really came into their own. This started with Kennedy introducing Mark Tremonti (who’d been absolutely slaying the guitar solos up until that point). “You all know him, you all love him… Mr Mark Tremonti”, this was followed by Tremonti singing ‘Water’s Rising’. I only wish he’d have sung more.
“I don’t think there was a single person in the arena not singing, it was a magical moment…”
Two songs later we were treated to a truly beautiful acoustic rendition of ‘Water Over You’ performed by Myles Kennedy, I don’t think there was a single person in the arena not singing, it was a magical moment. I wish bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips had been given the opportunity to show their musical mastery in such a way as this. Most of the time that they were there purely to support the two frontmen.
Towards the end of the set Tremonti gave away one of the many guitars he used throughout the night to an extremely lucky fan (leaving my friend and I exceedingly jealous). To everyone’s delight, they came back on for a huge two song encore, starting with the first single from their new album ‘Show Me A Leader’, and finishing with ‘Rise Today’. On the whole, it was a fantastic evening, and dare I say, the best gig I’ve ever been to.
Image courtesy of Alter Bridge via Facebook