Alter Bridge visited Los Angeles on Sunday, February 19th, three dates from the end of the current leg of their 2016/2017 The Last Hero tour. The band has been out on the road pretty consistently since early July of 2016, with a few breaks and is set for a month long break commencing February 23rd after shows in San Francisco and Seattle. Alter Bridge will resume the tour at the beginning of April, with five dates in Australia, an East Coast and Midwest of the United States swing, then off to Europe through June, supporting their 2016 release The Last Hero on Napalm Records.
On this particular night, a near capacity house waits in anticipation as Orange County trio, Them Evils, revs up the crowd with a proficient and professional seven song set, consisting of all original music, with the exception of an abbreviated version of AC/DC’s It’s a Long Way to the Top. Next up is the Florida quintet and Spinefarm recording artists Nonpoint. They deliver a blinding set, not only audibly, but visually, literally, with two sets of bright white lights on either side of the drum riser, that create silhouettes of the performers. Nonpoint further charges up the audience with throbbing songs that get those on the floor of the theater jumping, fist pumping and undulating like one giant, pulsating organism. Nonpoint’s set is highlighted by a rather enjoyable rendition of Phil Collins’ In the Air Tonight and original number, My Last Dying Breath.
When the house lights dim for the onset of the main event, the house erupts as the white beam lights repeatedly pierce the darkness into the crowd like 100 light sabers. Then Mark Tremonti, lead guitarist, kicks off the opening of The Writing on the Wall, joined soon thereafter by Scott Phillips and Brian Marshall on drums and bass respectively. Lead vocalist and guitarist Myles Kennedy shatters the droning music with his hauntingly, piercing lyrics and the assault has begun. The room is then treated to six songs from their second third and fourth albums, Come to Life from Blackbird, Ghost of Days Gone By and Slip to the Void, from AB III, and Farther Than the Sun, Addicted to Pain and Cry of Achilles from Fortress. Next is My Champion, from their latest release. This one seems to be a crowd favorite and the group delivers it with passion and energy. A few songs later, the showgoers are treated to Tremonti taking lead vocals on Waters Rising, which also features a guitar movement in which you get to hear the contrasting styles of both Tremonti and Kennedy. Kennedy having a more traditional “classic rock” approach, where Tremonti has a very unique sound with his turned inside out riffs.
In a more quiet moment, Kennedy, alone on stage with just an acoustic guitar, endears the audience with an acoustic version of Wonderful Life and Watch Over You. This solitary moment between Kennedy and each spectator, demonstrates his charisma and ability to connect with a crowd. Also on display here is his incredible vocal range, which is difficult to discern with the immense wall of sound the band creates.
That calm before the storm having blown past, Alter Bridge embarks on the build up to the finale. Isolation is followed by Blackbird, the title track from their second album. Blackbird is begun by Kennedy paying a short homage of the first few bars of the Beatles Blackbird, alone on the guitar. After Open Your Eyes, the finale of the main set is Metalingus, off their debut album. Metalingus begins with a Phillips drum intro followed by Marshall thumping out a matched pace bass line. Neither Phillips nor Marshall are terribly flashy in their stage presence, but this intro is a great exhibition of the two chambers of heart of this band. Tremonti’s grinding riff and Kennedy’s vocal changes accentuate the strength of this song as the explosive cherry on the cake.
Alter Bridge return to the stage to a jubilant crowd. The encore consists of two songs, the first, Show Me a Leader, from The Last Hero, which begins with Kennedy playing a solo intro of tasteful, low volume picking that erupts into a frenzied onslaught of dual guitar and exemplifies the interesting distinction between Kennedy and Tremonti. They close out their set with Rise Today, which they deliver with all due energy and excitement. At the conclusion, they linger on the stage to receive the adjulation of the attendees. A lucky few are rewarded with picks and drumsticks that the band fling to the loyal throng. The band says a final goodbye and leave the theater humming to the sound of Tremonti’s guitar reverberating on a stand.
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