Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (mostly) on Sundays. Enjoy!
Alter Bridge Live at the O2 – December 2019
I was introduced to Alter Bridge earlier this year by my friend and concert compadre Justin. We both like similar hard rock bands and he’d suggested I check them out. I’m glad I did. Formed out of the ashes of 90s band Creed with the addition of vocalist and guitarist Myles Kennedy, Alter Bridge have been my discovery of 2019. I’m stunned that they don’t get more press to be honest. Lead guitarist Mark Tremonti regularly gets awards for his playing and song writing and the band have been around and playing since 2004. When the opportunity to see them live arose I was genuinely surprised we could get tickets.
2019 saw the release of Alter Bridge’s 6th studio album, ‘Walk The Sky’ and the primary purpose of the tour was to publicise the album. So, that’s how I found myself sitting in the O2 waiting for Alter Bridge to take the stage. The support acts were Ravens Age, who I saw very little of and Shinedown. It seems crazy that Shinedown were supporting given that they themselves have sold over 10 million records world wide but this was a pretty big gig. I didn’t dislike their music but it didn’t hook me in the way Alter Bridge does and so I have to admit I was less engaged than I really should have been. What I would say was that lead singer Brent Singer was great at interacting with the audience, which I think is really cool. I might give them another go and have a listen to their recorded stuff to see if it works better for me. There was nothing wrong with their songs or playing, they just didn’t fire me up.
Alter Bridge did fire me up, a lot. As I suspected they opened up with ‘Walk The Sky’ opener ‘One Life’ and then into ‘Wouldn’t You Rather?’ which is a belter of a combo (‘One Life’ is, effectively an extended intro to ‘Wouldn’t You Rather?’) and the immediate impression I got was how massive the sound was. I’d heard a lot of horror stories about terrible sound at big venues and so I was a little concerned that the music would be lacking but it really wasn’t. The guitar and bass were really cleanly defined and the drums were punching right to the back. I could actually feel the kick drums ruffling my hair!
I’d expected a run through of ‘Walk The Sky’ with some favourites thrown in but that was far from the case. The highlights of ‘Walk The Sky’ were there but the set was a great mix right back to the first album with tracks like ‘Metalingus’. Throughout the whole set it didn’t seem to me like a single note was dropped, though Justin, with a keener ear, did reckon he heard a clanger or two. In any event, the sheer smoothness of a band that’s been playing together for 15 years and professional musicians for twice as long shone through.
Given the amount of time they have played together you could forgive the band for being somewhat jaded but not at all. What really struck me was the gratitude and humility that shone out from them on stage. A particularly nice touch was them choosing a fan from the audience and giving them a Mark Tremonti signature PRS guitar. It probably cost them a minimal amount but it came across as very cool.
Even the acoustic section, with just Myles and Mark on stage was not cheesy at all and provided a nice lull in the hard rock barrage towards the middle of the concert. I’m normally one to eschew this sort of thing in favour of a full on rock assault, but it really worked!
By the time the encore (‘Godspeed’ and ‘Addicted To Pain’) rang out my mind was truly blown. Alter Bridge are a band at the height of their powers and it was truly a sight to behold. If you get the chance to see them in a venue, big or small, I really suggest that you do so, if you like hard rock of course.
Two thumbs up from me.