Alter Bridge

Thursday 24th November

London's O2 Arena, Greenwich

The pre-gig research described openers Like a Storm as "a Hard Rock band from Auckland, New Zealand, best known for combining heavy baritone guitar riffs and Hard Rock songs with didgeridoo." Yep, that pretty much covers it. The short set was not as Sabbathesque as I was expecting but had a heaviness that was warmly applauded by the sparse arriving audience. And the didgeridoo, stolen from it’s native Australia, seemed to be more of a gimmick than adding anything notable to their sound. Personally, I would suggest they didgeridon’t. They are good enough without it.



Second act up were Gojira, a brutal French Heavy Metal band with screaming vocals. Reminded me of my French vocab lessons - tough school. The now more populous crowd warmed to the self-deprecating gallic charmers who played a solid set. It’s good to see our friends from across the channel have something to listen to other than Edith Piaf and Charles Hasnovoice (kids, ask your grandparents). Kirk Hammett certainly seems to approve of them.


Last of the support acts was radio friendly Volbeat. For me, they are one of those bands just don’t click. ‘Lola Montez’, their biggest hit, sounded just like the record when played live which is testament to the bands performance skills. But then a number of their tracks sounded like ‘Lola Montez' to me. The Danish smorgasbord of songs was a collection of tracks that had influences from Metal, Punk, Rockabilly and Reggae (probably). With a Metal version of Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire’ – not your usual mosh out track – and a guest appearance from Johnny from Napalm Death on ‘Evelyn’, there was something for everyone.



Lights down, here comes the main event. The O2 in Greenwich is one of those arena’s that bands either fill with wondrous sound or get lost in it’s cavernous, vertigo inducing ether. Guess which one applies here? Many well-known names have tried and failed but Alter Bridge are one of those bands whose catalogue of Power Rock is meant for the big venues. Lead singer and sinfully underrated guitarist Myles Kennedy has a voice that would seek out every corner of the venue, and beyond, even without the huge sound system. His vocals with Slash has helped to make him a household name and grace the top 5 list of Rock warblers on any self-respecting poll.



Lead guitarist Mark Tremonti is God. Or whatever deity is your choice in these multi-faithed days. Clapton was hailed as God in the sixties. Hendrix made Clapton sit up and listen. Mark Tremonti is, for me, a guitarist's guitarist who can claim that mantle. Animated, but not extrovertly showy, Mark Tremonti has all the chops, all the licks, and all of the taste and style to put him up on a pedestal with the best. He really makes those birds on his PRS sing. Scott Phillips beat the bejesus out of his DW’s with no thought spared for his Zildjians either. And Brian Marshall bossed his bass to complete the foursome. Check out his bass breakdown in ‘Cry Of Achilles’.



With their latest album ‘The Last Hero’ filling an iPod near you, it was no surprise that they opened with a new track ‘The Writing On The Wall’. What followed was a blissful set from the previous four albums plus new tracks like ‘The Last Hero’ and ‘Crows On A Wire’ thrilling the packed throng. Myles acoustic solo track ‘Watch Over You’ was beautiful and bought a respected reverence and Mark Tremonti singing lead vocals on ‘Waters Rising’ was a treat. But Alter Bridge are about the power and the technical brilliance of tracks like ‘Addicted To Pain’ and ‘Isolation’ that required a couple of local power stations to up their game. One of those nights when you truly get lost in the music. At least the sore pain in my constantly banging head was relieved, but at the expense of my vocal chords, when anthemic song ‘Blackbird’ moistened every eye in the house. Album of the year, 2007 for me. Rapture. And the already moist eyes were further moved when the bountiful Tremonti presented his gorgeous guitar to one lucky punter in the front row. That will be one treasured memento of what was a treasure trove of a gig. It was a truly religious experience. Mr Tremonti, I worship you.



The Writing On The Wall
Come To Life
Addicted To Pain
Ghost Of Days Gone By
Cry Of Achilles
The Other Side
Farther Than The Sun
Ties That Bind
Waters Rising
Crows On A Wire
Watch Over You
Isolation
Blackbird
Metalingus
Open Your Eyes


Encore:


Show Me A Leader
Rise Today



Mother

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