Live Reviews : Alter Bridge & Like A Storm @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney 04/04/2017
As one of the leaders of today’s heavy rock fraternity, Alter Bridge stand head and shoulders above most of their contemporaries. Over the course of their 5 albums to date they have cultivated a growing force of admirers and cemented their credibility with a rich vein of consistent quality. Numbering Slash’s go-to front man of choice and the truly lethal guitar of Mark Tremonti among their ranks has certainly provided a good entry point to discovering the talents of this band. No longer considered somewhat of a guilty pleasure they are a band at the very front of today’s hard rock pack.
Latest album ‘The Last Hero’ is a powerful, moody observation of our times, a poignant outpouring influenced by current realities and the heavy subject matter, delivered with it’s strident musical force, made it one of the more compelling albums of 2016. Uncertain times have a habit of creating great rock ‘n’ roll and the fractious environment and dark matters that informed the material is a real strength of the record but additionally throughout there is a relentless, uplifting optimism that gives you the overwhelming impression that rock ‘n’ roll and the human spirit will win out in the end.
Although injecting good times rock ‘n’ roll with any form of politically aware vocabulary can be a slippery slope, some bands can pull it off and some audiences can handle a sprinkling of cerebral stimulation on their oats. Tonight there will prove to be a synergy between a band with something substantial to say and an audience aware of their surroundings and happy to use the power of rock ‘n’ roll to vent any latent frustrations, let loose, blow off a little steam and have a damn good time.
Tonight’s support comes ably from LIKE A STORM, this Kiwi 4 piece obviously mix in good circles and prove themselves worthy of such a stage. Their style and sound is a perfect fit for the expectant crowd, a rendition of ‘T.N.T.’ goes down a treat and their final track ‘Love The Way You Hate Me’ connects well. Although the material is new to most, the crowd embrace them enthusiastically and it’s obvious they will make alot of friends on this tour.
A comfortably full Enmore Theatre see’s a vast rock audience of all creeds and denominations, Alter Bridge draws a crowd from a broadchurch of heavy music appreciators, metal freaks and shred heads are out in force to witness the guitar histrionics and fans of the old band that supplied the foundation and gave birth to this new improved unit mingle with new fans and there is a great vibe and joyous atmosphere that is a compliment to the band and their material.
Kicking off with new track ‘The Writing On The Wall’ the scene is set for a belter of a gig, the production is blazing on all cylinders and the band hit the stage with something to prove. The heavy stomp of ‘Come To Life’, ‘ Farther Than The Sun’ & ‘Addicted To Pain’ are brutally efficient. This is heavy and loud as hell but initially the mix is a tad muddy and oppressive. The intent is admiral but it is when the sonic dynamic is apparent that this music is best appreciated. I love a loud gig but when you see punters covering up around you a question needs to be asked. This is quickly sorted with a sound still belligerently forceful but less ear splitting and as ‘Ghost Of Days Gone By’, ‘Cry Of Achilles’, ‘Island Of Fools’ and ‘Crows On A Wire’ blast by there is a bounce to the crowd and singalongs come with every track.
A tenacious grit has been a hallmark of Alter Bridge’s entire career, both in their sound and the trajectory of their ever increasing fan base, moving forward has been a constant since their inception and there is a turbo charged energy they bring to tonight’s performance that ripples throughout the entire venue as this crowd of euphoric alter worshippers go ballistic.
‘My Champion’ comes with the expected crowd participation and the engaging nature with which frontman Myles Kennedy connects with the audience is a genuine pleasure, his vocal and guitar abilities are of the highest order and he comes across as one of the more likeable characters in rock. Riff meister Tremonti is a revelation, one of the most complete guitar players on the current scene and the twin guitar interplay between he and Kennedy adds another dimension to the musicality of this unit, the rhythm section of Marshall and Phillips is as tough as a brick shithouse and the entire band has a sound and presentation that is powerful and carries the crowd along in a euphoric wave that underlines the flat out fucking fun of rock ‘n’ roll.
As we take a brief respite for the lilting balladry of ‘Watch Over You’ Myles gets a chance to sit with the crowd and an acoustic guitar and lighters and cell phones light the way as the emotive sing along sways the venue. Nice moment. Tremonti returns to the stage with another classic from his impressive guitar collection, this time a very metal looking Explorer shape, and digs into the chugging riffage of ‘Isolation’, the two guitars trade off leads as they ease into the souring ‘Blackbird’, a highlight of an epic nature, one of their more expansive songs, an obvious favourite with tonight’s audience and a track containing a monster build up to a blistering Tremonti solo that spreads goose bumps throughout the room.
Reaching back to their debut album the ‘woah woahs’ are out as the crowd drown out the band for the uplifting sing along of ‘Open Your Eyes’ and ‘Metalingus’ flattens all in its wake with it’s primal blast of chunky riffs and story of personal redemption. One of the highlights of the new album – ‘Show Me A Leader’ proves to also be one of the highlights of tonight’s performance and as it’s flying guitar intro slams into the syncopated cry of the chorus and it’s plea for sanity and direction in an increasingly challenging social and political world environment, it’s obvious that asking questions and infusing a great song with a thought provoking message is something that is both cathartic and ballsy. The uplifting nature of a blazing rock show has always been the best way to blow off some steam and the whole audience appear to be loving the opportunity. Shitty new world issues – 0, Rock ‘ N’ Roll – 1. In a great piece of setlist planning and as if to underline this fact ‘Rise Today’ can be the only way to bring this killer show to its natural end and a clearly elevated crowd scream along to the catchy closer as strobes, fast fingers and thumping tubs bring the show to its fulfilling conclusion.
“Show Me A Leader who won’t compromise…” not sure we can deliver that one boys. Show me a band that don’t compromise on foot to the floor, passionate, exquisitely well played heavy rock and I’ll show you a fucking good time. Rock ‘N’ Roll wins the day again!