I have overwhelming respect for rock music's classic heroes, and I truly believe that they are irreplaceable. Unfortunately, they made history during a time when most of did not have the privilege to witness firsthand. Now, other bands write today's rock history, part of which was a sold out show of Alter Bridge in London's Wembley Arena. That is why I thought it was appropriate for me to be there, and I have yet to regret it.
Don't fall into the trap of trying to compare the existing markets. The fact that a band like Alter Bridge sells out arenas is not at all a negligible achievement, as the presence of rock/hard rock bands in arena tours is a rare phenomenon nowadays. The arena tour itself was a big incentive, but once announcing that the show would be used as material for the upcoming release of a DVD it was impossible to stop me from making the trip. The only problem was there were no tickets left, so I must thank Warner Greece for taking care of that for me.
Let's go straight to what happened on the night of November 29th at the holy grounds of Wembley Arena, starting from the fact that the venue has one of the best sound set ups I've come across, which was a common factor for all three bands playing that night...
Theory Of A Deadman opened up with their -Nickelback meets aggression-American mainstream rock to rightfully earn the applause of the audience, as they sounded much better than their studio work and I can easily say that I enjoyed their show. Having the attribute of a very communicative and witty frontman, during their approximately half hour setlist I was especially intrigued by their most recent hit, "Bitch Came Back", their cover of the famous "Cocaine" and closing with, probably their most famous song, "Bad Girlfriend", which incorporated a short introduction of "Paradise City". A really strong band, with excellent stage presence and appropriate notion on how to have fun, setting the right atmosphere for the next band...
...which happens to be none other than one of my personal weaknesses, Black Stone Cherry. If you have yet to check them out, stop reading right here, go find their three albums and put them to play as you continue to read. As their frontman, Chris Robertson, said, he doesn't have the slightest interested in whether someone will buy or download his music, he just wants people to listen it, appreciate it, and then go to see them play live. Well, simply put, the band from Kentucky was fantastic, to the point that the more "objective" listeners in the audience pointed out that they enjoyed them more than the headliners ...
I cannot blame them as Chris Robertson, with his new -short hair- look, has a shockingly good voice, while the whole band played as if there was no tomorrow. They opened with "Change" from their latest album, "Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea", from which we also heard 'hits' like "White Trash Millionaire" and "Blame It On The Boom - Boom" as well as the hearfelt "In My Blood", since the set was divided equally among the three albums of the band. "Rain Wizard" and "Lonely Train" from their debut album as well as "Blind Man" from her second album were brilliant moments, while "Things My Father Said" and an acoustic rendition of "Peace Is Free" were rather emotional moments during the set. The best moment was the extended version of "Maybe Someday" with the band jamming. Fans of today's hard rock scene shouldn't miss them playing live, as they're soon heading out for another European tour.
Setlist: Change / Blind Man / Soulcreek / In My Blood / Rain Wizard / Things My Father Said / White Trash Millionaire / Peace Is Free / Maybe Someday / Blame It On The Boom-Boom / Lonely Train
I was fortunate enough to have watched both Black Stone Cherry and Alter Bridge during their respective sets at Download Festival this summer, but this live was so much better. Especially for Alter Bridge, as this was essentially their night, the peak of a frantic course that was brought by the success of "AB III" and their consistent dedication to constant touring. It was the dream of a musician coming true as an obviously touched Myles Kennedy mentioned it himself at some point, looking over thousands of ecstatic faces packing the Wembley Arena. T-shirts of the band were everywhere and people knew the lyrics to every song, anticipating the sing along parts to contribute their own part to the show.
The impressive 3D cameras were set perfectly, and the on-stage effects included fire, impressive lasers and a wall with strange lights behind the band, which made a nice visual supplement to the music that Tremonti, Kennedy, Phillips and Marshall offered. With crystal clear sound and Myles being in excellent form, "Slip To The Void" created a panic in the front rows, while there were mosh pits and crowd surfing at every possible moment. Their latest album saw seven songs chosen from it to be in the setlist, whereas five more were selected off their debut album. However, it was none other than their masterpiece, "Blackbird", that had the biggest cut of the setlist pie, with nine songs out of its thirteen, comprising the final songs of the set, summing up to a two hour long performance.
We had dynamic songs on the one hand like "Come To Life", "I Know It Hurts", "Metalingus", "One Day Remains" and "Ties That Bind", and on the other, there were great performances of intense emotional songs like "Broken Wings" and especially their magnum opus, "Blackbird", which was also the highlight of the live for this poor soul of a writer. When Myles was left alone on stage to perform "Wonderful Life" and "Watch Over You", accompanied solely by his acoustic guitar, he recalled how in the '90s he used to play in coffee shops (the ones you get actual coffee at, not those in Amsterdam, as he pointed out) and how no one paid any attention to him. So, he thanked all the people who were there, cause they actually cared.
Meanwhile, he yelled 'stand up and shout', remembering the cameo role in the movie "Rock Star", while there were some guitar jams with Tremonti, in moments of relaxation. Mark is a real guitar hero of our times, with his characteristic puffed up cheeks to accompany each riff and solo's that sounded perfect throughout the show, without missing a single not. For the end, they kept their hits, "Isolation", "Open Your Eyes" and "Rise Today", as colorful papers and ribbons filled the arena for the finale.
Obligations to other projects brings Alter Bridge to a unavoidable halt for 2012, as they hopefully will return somewhere in 2013 with a new album, hoping it will lead them to even greater heights. This was a show from one of the greatest rock bands at its peak of its career, and everyone who was there to witness their performance can reassure it. For those who think that I exaggerate, thank God there's going to be a DVD of this concert in the coming year...
Slip To The Void
Find The Real
Ghost Of Days Gone By
Before Tomorrow Comes
Come To Life
All Hope Is Gone
Brand New Start
I Know It Hurts
One Day Remains
Buried Alive Blackbird
Wonderful Life (acoustic)
Watch Over You (acoustic)
Ties That Bind
Open Your Eyes
Dueling Guitar Solos