After several dates performing around the world, and a sold-out spring tour in support of their critically acclaimed album, Fortress, Alter Bridge is finishing up a final U.S. headlining stint with a 13-city tour in October. Although the band has been prominently featured on Hard Rock Daddy, this was the first time that I ever had the chance to see them perform live. It was also my first opportunity to see a show at The Paramount, an incredible, 1500+ capacity venue on Long Island.
The night began with a brief (but highly entertaining and engaging) set from New Zealand rockers, Like A Storm, followed by Glenn Hughes’ California Breed, before Alter Bridge took the stage by storm.
From the first note, it was abundantly clear that Alter Bridge is a band that caters to their diehard, almost cult-like fanbase. How else do you explain opening with “Addicted To Pain,” (the band’s biggest hit to date) instead of saving it to close the show? While it was a surprising opener, it was also a very effective one, setting a powerful tone of in-your-face intensity that lasted throughout the 18-song set.
Even though Fortress is the heaviest album of Alter Bridge’s decade-long career, the band that most would classify as hard rock feels like a metal band in a live setting. In fact, if Myles Kennedy was a screamer instead of a brilliant vocalist with superior range, Alter Bridge may very well be solely classified as a metal band.
Having seen Kennedy recently as the frontman of Slash’s band, it was interesting to see how different his dynamic was with Alter Bridge. With Slash, Kennedy is front and center, but rarely picks up the guitar, whereas with Alter Bridge, Kennedy and Mark Tremonti team up to create a dual-guitar tour de force. On the heavier songs, you notice Kennedy’s guitar playing more than his singing, but when the band pulls it back a bit, his incredible vocals definitely take center stage.
While all eyes are naturally drawn to Kennedy and Tremonti, Alter Bridge’s powerful rhythm section of Brian Marshall (bass) and Scott Phillips (drums) provide a rock solid foundation, allowing the duo to mesmerize the crowd with their dynamic virtuosity.
Throughout the evening, the Alter Bridge crowd proved to be anything but typical, with few (if any) casual fans in attendance. Normally, when a singer turns the microphone to the audience, the energy in the room drops drastically. However, with the Alter Bridge crowd singing in unison, it was like being in the midst of a “power choir” (a term that I’m pretty sure I just coined).
With most live performances by hard rock/metal artists, you can easily differentiate between the songs that the crowd came to hear and the ones where they go and get a beer. Although I’m sure that there was no shortage of beers sold at The Paramount on the evening of the Alter Bridge show, there was no mass exodus to the bar at any point during the set, which was heavily loaded with songs from Fortress and the band’s 2007 release, Blackbird.
There is no telling what heights Alter Bridge could reach if they ever decided to dedicate their sole attention to the band, but they believe that they have found a formula that works best for them. Based on the success of Fortress, and the tour in support of the album, it’s hard to argue with their way of thinking.
The good news for Alter Bridge fans is that they will be able to see the band members over the next few years with their respective side projects. The bad news is, based on their previous release schedule, there probably won’t be another Alter Bridge album or tour until around 2017. Let the countdown begin!