Alter Bridge Returns to the Iron City

On their final leg of The Last Hero tour, Alter Bridge made a stop in Birmingham, Alabama, for the first time in ten years. They played at Iron City with opening acts Sons of Texas and All That Remains. As an added bonus, I convinced my parents to go. It was their first Alter Bridge show.

Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, I missed all of Sons of Texas and most of All That Remains, though I did catch the latter performing their version of “The Thunder Rolls.”

My parents and I found a spot in the balcony and anxiously awaited the start of Alter Bridge’s set. The venue was packed from wall to wall, and everywhere I looked I saw shirts from past tours, most prominent among them Blackbird and The Last Hero.

Just as the excitement boiled over and fans began chanting the band’s name, the lights dimmed. Drummer Scott Phillips settled behind his kit to a soundtrack of cheers. Vocalist/guitarist Myles Kennedy, guitarist Mark Tremonti, and bassist Brian Marshall took the stage without further ado, and we were off.

Alter Bridge opened with “Writing on the Wall” and tore through three more songs before Myles addressed the audience. Every word he spoke was met with ecstatic screams. At one point, the front man acknowledged how long it had been since they’d been to Alabama, and he promised they would never overlook us again.

Alter Bridge’s set spanned their entire career, hitting the high points from each album: “Open Your Eyes” from One Day Remains, “Ties That Bind” and the title track of Blackbird, “Isolation” (AB III), “Cry of Achilles” (Fortress), and “Crows on a Wire” off The Last Hero. Much to our joy, they did “Fortress,” which doesn’t often find its way into their shows. The acoustic portion consisted of Myles playing “Watch Over You” alone, then being joined by Mark for the highlight of my night, “In Loving Memory.” The evening came to a close with “Show Me a Leader” and “Rise Today.”

This was my fifth Alter Bridge show, and the quartet again not only met but surpassed my expectations. Musically brilliant and high on crowd participation, they delivered the kind of performance concert-goers dream about. I was on cloud 9. My mom, who has been listening to Alter Bridge since 2004, was over the moon. And my dad… Well, he doesn’t like a lot of recent artists/bands, but he seemed suitably impressed, especially when Mark and Myles had their guitar duel and showcased that they are, in fact, the two most talented men in the business.

For the fourth consecutive review, I am ending with a personal anecdote. My parents and I went to where the buses were parked and were soon graced by the presence of Mark, Myles, and Scott. Perhaps my favorite part of the night was Dad introducing himself to Mark. I added “That’s my dad,” and Mark smiled and said “Hi, Dad!” It was so endearing. The guitarist also found it humorous that my mom made him squat for a picture, attempting to get him closer to my height (I’m barely under 5′ and Mark is 6’1″). He did so without protest, and he is grinning in the photo.

I love this band. They are my happy place.

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Concert Review: An Amazing Night With Alter Bridge

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On Wednesday, October 5th, my brother Rick and I drove up to the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville to see Alter Bridge. The other two bands on the bill were 3 Pill Morning and Adelita’s Way. I was very excited because I love all three acts, and I can tell you honestly that they did not disappoint. 3 Pill Morning was energetic and seemed to thrive off of audience participation, while Adelita’s Way focused more upon the music and less upon sing-alongs.

Once Adelita’s Way left the stage, anticipation became a practically tangible emotion in the air: any second now, Alter Bridge would be up there. Excited chatter filled the venue and when the lights dimmed, expectation reached its breaking point. There were several yells and delighted shrieks. Alter Bridge drummer Scott Phillips climbed behind his set, throwing his hands into the air and eliciting cheers from the eager crowd. In rapid succession, bassist Brian Marshall, guitarist Mark Tremonti, and vocalist/guitarist Myles Kennedy emerged from backstage. The band tore into “Come to Life” without preamble.

The set list had (almost) every track an Alter Bridge fan could want, including “Ties That Bind,” “Blackbird,” “Isolation,” “Watch Over You,” and the band’s latest song of encouragement, “My Champion.” As per usual, the set was concluded with “Open Your Eyes.”

But of course, no one moved. With chants of “Alter Bridge” echoing loudly, the quartet returned for two encores. The moment had come. It was a highlight for many as the band began the first single off their upcoming record, “Show Me a Leader.” Watching Myles Kennedy play the intro, I literally had chills.

Their second encore was the much loved “Rise Today.” Myles invited us to sing the chorus near the end, and we accepted with gusto. That will always be one of my favorite parts of an Alter Bridge concert.

The show was perfect. I have no other way to describe it. I have seen Alter Bridge three times, and this performance and set list were the best. If you love bands who get up there and play and don’t bother with props or appearances, then you need to hit an AB concert. It’s nothing fancy; just four extremely talented musicians doing what they do best.

After taking a bow and many thank-yous, the band filed off the stage. The lights came on and crew members went to work breaking everything down. The satisfied audience spilled from the venue, talking and laughing and, in some cases, lamenting the long drive home. However, my and my brother’s night was not over.

Together, Rick and I circled the venue and joined a cluster of fans by the bus. It paid off. We soon were meeting Brian Marshall. Our patience and determination kept us there for another forty-five minutes — long enough for Mark Tremonti to emerge. And this is when my review gets personal.

Rick has been a fan of Mark’s since roughly 1997. He saw Creed with Finger Eleven and Sevendust many moons ago. He accepted Myles Kennedy without question and has loved Alter Bridge from day one. But he had never met any of them until this night. (I met Mark in Birmingham last year, when Tremonti opened for Black Stone Cherry.) Rick and Mark talked guitars, then Rick told Mark that he was his idol. It was…beautiful.

Mark was quickly followed by Scott Phillips, who was good-humored and who, after Rick stated that Alter Bridge were his heroes, said we were the band’s heroes. And with that, we left, both in high spirits. The fact that we were about to spend over two hours on the road didn’t even matter.

So worth it ❤

 

 

Concert Review: We Spent the Night With Alice Cooper

As much as I want this to be strictly a review, I can’t leave out the personal angle. See, my dad has been a fan of Alice Cooper since he was eighteen-ish. He actually saw them in ’75 on the Welcome to My Nightmare tour. When I heard that Alice Cooper was coming to Huntsville, my first thought was that my dad had to go, but I knew he wouldn’t buy a ticket for himself. He would have to have some kind of incentive. So I asked him to take me for my birthday–and he did.

Dad and I arrived at the Von Braun Center at 7:30 p.m. We found our seats and sat there, staring at the blue-lit backdrop (featuring Alice Cooper’s eyes) in anticipation. Nearly half an hour later, the arena darkened and a roar came from the crowd as the backdrop glowed red. We were off.

And this is where I switch to review mode…

Alice Cooper opened the set with “The Black Widow,” straight into “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” The band played for a solid hour and a half with barely a pause. They did all of the songs one would expect, including “I’m Eighteen,” “Billion Dollar Babies,” and “School’s Out.” Alice himself stepped back a few times to permit his band to show off their talents. The moments that really stood out were the solos from guitarist Nita Strauss and drummer Glen Sobel.

It’s no surprise the stage show was incredible! A dancing nurse, a broken windup doll, and the monster stomping around growling the chorus of “Feed My Frankenstein” were only the beginning. I mean, how often do you see a rock star get beheaded in the middle of his set?

Roughly halfway through, there was a tribute to other artists we have lost. Alice Cooper covered songs from The Who (in honor of Keith Moon), Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, and Motorhead (in honor of Lemmy Kilmister). In case anyone reading is going to be at a show during this tour, I will not list which tracks they played. I was pleasantly surprised, and I wouldn’t want to take that away from you.

Following “School’s Out,” the band left the stage. They returned within seconds to loud cheers and closed the show with “Elected.” Alice thanked his audience and after a few bows and showering the fans with picks and drumsticks, he and his mates exited for the final time.

I am very glad I convinced my dad to attend this concert. My only complaint would be that the show wasn’t long enough. Otherwise, it was perfect. Alice Cooper is a true entertainer. The Godfather of Shock Rock’s reign continues.

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Night Out

This is more or less a review of Shallow Side’s show in Madison last Friday, but it is also a personal post. I’ve been absent from the local music scene for a while and it was absolutely wonderful being back.

Unfortunately, I missed most of the opening act, a band called By All Means. What I did see, however, was really good. If you like hard rock/heavy metal, you might want to check them out.

I have been to four or five Shallow Side shows previously. I always enjoy them. An energetic performance coupled with amazing originals–and some odd but very fun covers–makes for one hell of a night. Shallow Side is better than anyone at getting an audience on its feet, except perhaps Almost Kings.

Friday was no different. The band’s set included originals such as “Stand Up,” “Out of Reach,” and “My Addiction.” I have to admit, though, that one of my favorite parts was their version of Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk,” with which they concluded their show. Front man Eric Boatright definitely did the track justice. It was just…magnificent. 🙂

20fyio0From left to right: drummer Heath Fields, vocalist Eric Boatright, guitarist Seth Trimble, and bassist Cody Hampton.

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153ogv62zgge3nLooks like Seth tried to get me three times.

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Concert Review: Black Jacket Symphony Does Pink Floyd

Last Saturday night, I went to see The Black Jacket Symphony perform Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon with my parents and cousin. The BJS has made a name for itself by recreating entire albums as exact as possible. Their past performances include Prince’s Purple Rain and Led Zeppelin’s IV.

The musicians in The Black Jacket Symphony rotate; that is to say, the band is not always made up of the same group of artists. For this performance, the band included Huntsville’s own Dave Anderson (guitar/vocals), as well as Aaron Branson on bass, Allen Barlow on guitar, Blair Breitreiter handling both keyboards and saxophone, Brad Wolfe on guitar, Mark Lanter on drums, Jackie Roche on vocals, and Peyton Grant on keys and backing vocals.

The Black Jacket Symphony did not disappoint. Pink Floyd is one of my all-time favorite bands, so believe me when I say I held them to a high standard. The musicians were superb, but it was the vocal talent on that stage that blew me away. Jackie Roche absolutely nailed “The Great Gig in the Sky” (see below). She received a much deserved standing ovation.

After the conclusion of Dark Side of the Moon, there was an intermission then the band returned to play a few of Pink Floyd’s greatest hits. They started with “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” and ended with “Comfortably Numb.” There were the obvious ones, such as “Another Brick in the Wall Pt. II” and “Wish You Were Here.” I was surprised and very pleased when they included both “Empty Spaces” and “Young Lust.”

It was a spectacular night, filled with so much talent and an enthusiastic audience who clearly appreciated that talent. I would highly recommend attending a Black Jacket Symphony show if the chance ever presents itself.

“The Great Gig in the Sky”

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Me with Dave Anderson and Jackie Roche

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Review: Azrael, From Ashes to New, Offbeat Hooligans, & Almost Kings @ Wild Bill’s

On Saturday, May 3rd, Atlanta natives Almost Kings played their hometown for the first time in roughly nine months. In celebration of this hometown event/Cinco de Mayo bash, the band gave away free tickets to all who requested them prior to the show. Three opening acts–Azrael, From Ashes to New, and Offbeat Hooligans–were booked, and anticipation built by the day.

Doors opened at 7:30 that night. Rockers Azrael were the first to hit the stage, going on around 8:30. The best way to describe them is a mix of Creed and Seether. Their originals were great, and their versions of Bush’s “Come Down” and Alex Clare’s “Too Close” really sparked the crowd’s enthusiasm. It was the perfect way to kick off the night. Before the energy could fade even one iota, it was time for From Ashes to New.

Hailing from Lancaster, PA, From Ashes to New is reminiscent of Hollywood Undead, only much heavier. They had Wild Bill’s jumping by the end of their first song. They were energetic and interactive, vocalist Matt Brandyberry hopped down into the cluster of people gathered in front of the stage more than once, singing and shaking hands and creating more of a sense of camaraderie between fans and band. The atmosphere was electric at the end of their set and it remained that way throughout the entirety of Offbeat Hooligans‘ performance.

The best way to describe Offbeat Hooligans is “funky.” The members are extremely talented. Bassist Ben Rickard, in particular, tore it up. Akin to 311 and Authority Zero, they left the room with a positive vibe. Finally, right after 11, it was the moment we’d all been waiting for–Almost Kings. Drummer Kevin Compton, guitarist Ryan Yunker, bassist Danny Helms, and front man Bryan Bozeman walked out to a packed house. A roar rose from the audience as the band ripped straight into “Shakin’ ‘Em Up.”

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I can’t even find the words to explain their performance. It was non-stop enthusiasm, the guys bouncing all over the expansive stage and Bozeman repeatedly encouraging the audience to help him out, something that every person in that building was more than willing to do. AK played all of their most popular tracks, including “Bounce,” “Five Foot Hurricane,” “Shadows,” and “Hold On Me,” while also breaking out a few songs that aren’t usual on their set lists, such as “Lose Control” and “Never Quite the Same.” A few covers were slipped in: the medley that includes a portion of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back,” Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby,” and House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” as well as their always popular version of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” Throughout their set, Almost Kings was joined onstage by multiple guests, other musicians who they have collaborated with over the years.

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The night was truly an unforgettable one. Without a doubt, Almost Kings gave their all and made their hometown incredibly proud.

Review: Adrenaline Mob, HellYeah, & Avenged Sevenfold @ the VBC

On Wednesday, April 23rd, I went to see Avenged Sevenfold at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Their opening acts were Adrenaline Mob and HellYeah. Doors opened at roughly 6:30 p.m. and the show began at 7:22 p.m., according to the usher we befriended. Ha!

I wasn’t very familiar with Adrenaline Mob. I had done a little research prior to the show, but all I really found out was that they are a super group and that their bassist is John Moyer, who used to be with Disturbed (a fact that excited me, since I love Disturbed). The band totally rocked it. They were a great way to kick things off, closing their set with their first single, “Come On, Get Up.”

Then came HellYeah. Vocalist Chad Gray knew exactly how to work a crowd and by the time they finished, the room was positively buzzing. Highlights from their set included “Drink, Drank, Drunk” and the title track from their upcoming release, “Blood for Blood.”

Finally, it was time for the main act. Avenged Sevenfold took the stage to the familiar sounds of “Shepherd of Fire” and the audience went insane. I can’t even begin to describe how I felt at that moment, and the feeling didn’t leave me for the entire set. The guys were a little more lackluster than I remembered, yet their performance still held a magic that only Avenged Sevenfold can create for me. The set list was spectacular and hit every high point of their fifteen year career. Each song filled me with joy and made me think “I can’t believe I’m here.” However, the crowning moments for me were “Hail to the King” and “Fiction,” for I had never before seen them do either song live.

I have now been to six Avenged Sevenfold concerts and though this was not the best, the California natives did not disappoint. I look forward to seeing them again, hopefully in the very near future.

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[Photo credit goes to my brother Rick, who was closer than I was.]

Oh, and after the show, we ran into Adrenaline Mob at a Waffle House. They were extremely nice!

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