Words and Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
With Morgan Rose, Sevendust’s drummer in a rather bad way, rushed into hospital for an emergency operation, the band were forced to cancel their UK tour in support of Alter Bridge and Shinedown. Hopefully he’s on the mend with some recent photos tweeted from his hospital bed suggesting improvement but, for now, their spot on the tour has been taken by The Raven Age.
A solid opening set from The Raven Age, a band with a fair bit of metal pedigree in their ranks, shows how the Harlow lads aren’t swayed in the least by playing on one of the biggest stages in the nation’s capital. Having first seen the band perform at The Underworld in London in 2014, it’s refreshing to see the band having moved onward and upwards. One to watch over the next few years for sure.
Following The Raven Age, London was then fortunate enough to be witness to not one but two masterclasses in arena rock shows. First up, Shinedown, a band that have always promised to deliver on the bigger world stages and with latest album ‘Attention! Attention!’ and some smartly timed special guest \ support slots on tours like this, they’ve finally started their well-deserved ascension to the upper levels of rock’s hierarchy.
With a stage set up befitting a headliner, the four piece delivered a polished, highly (and I cannot stress this enough) energised set that truly warmed up the crowd. Brent Smith’s stage patter is very much a love it or loathe it affair with typical Brit cynicism often mistaking his honest warmth and feeling for “the typical shit that the Yanks always spout… it’s so false”. In truth, and having met Brent several times for interviews, that warmth is genuine, he truly appreciates the responses the band get from crowds and he does his absolute best to get the whole room on his side. This also involves the, now typical, parting of the crowd and a walk through that further serves to make him a man of the people. With a shorter set than they deserved, the walk through the crowd was done early on with Brent shaking hands with all of the photographers on route, as he climbed over the barrier into the crowd.
A quick trip the sound desk and back, with a sea of phones capturing the moment, and the band then continued a blistering set, with the mix of old and new ensuring that a huge number of people present were singing along. ‘Second Chance’ a clear highlight from their breakthrough album ‘Sound of Madness’ saw a room full of phones with the torches on, the lighter pose for the 21st century, and the majority of the arena singing along word for word. A large number of t-shirts proclaiming love for both of the main acts suggesting the pairing was a very good choice.
Whilst Smith may be the voice and the personality on stage, Barry Kerch on drums, Zach Myers electrifying on guitar and Eric Bass on the only instrument his surname will allow, filled the stage with ease even when Smith was away with the crowd. Bass and Myers swapping sides every thirty seconds with Bass definitely experiencing a case of ants in the pants given he spent more time in mid-air thanks to the rather impressive leaps that he showcased with ease.
Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)
Cut the Cord
Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
Sound of Madness
But, all good things must come to an end to make way for, well, more good things. Alter Bridge contain individuals that make up the sum of the parts rather than any one of them shining more than the other. Yes, Myles may be the singer but c’mon Tremonti’s guitar work is legendary. And the rhythm section well…..that was simply thunderous.
Their set list, containing a perfect blend of old and new kept the faithful happy and even those there to see Shinedown (and there were a lot) were singing along. The lull, as sadly there was one, came in the form of an interlude with Myles and Mark on stools with a couple of acoustic guitars. Beautiful in parts, phone lights a plenty, it was a mesmerising performance but after building the atmosphere from the off with high powered rock music, the acoustic segment lost the opportunity to deliver the killer blow and bring home the show triumphant.
They did of course build again with ‘Blackbird’ and ‘Open Your Eyes’, dipping into the classics, before ‘Metalingus’, ‘Godspeed’ and ‘Addicted to Pain’ closed the show.
A ballsy performance and brave to break it up in the middle when riding the crest of a blisteringly hot rock wave but ultimately Alter Bridge went home having delivered on the promise that headliners have to impress.
Wouldn’t You Rather
Come to Life
Pay No Mind
Ghost of Days Gone By
Cry of Achilles
In Loving Memory (Myles and Mark)
Watch Over You (with full band from halfway through )
Open Your Eyes
Metalingus (featuring John Connolly from Sevendust)
Addicted to Pain