An extremely eager crowd line the paths behind Festival Hall in anticipation of tonight’s Alter Bridge performance. Some vying for stage front barrier rights but most early to enjoy the veritable myriad of concert enhancement and VIP opportunities, but all in apparent good humor. In fact, excited delight might better describe the mood amongst those assembled. And who could possibly question such enthusiasm when such a range of opportunities for close encounters are on offer. Some were ready for meet and greet with both bands, some equipped with guitars ready to be schooled in the finer points re “art of axe” by Mark Tremonti himself, and a few lucky folk who secured a rare opportunity to sit side stage and be part of the Like A Storm action.
All smiles and offering the warmest of greetings to Alter Bridge, sprinkled with messages of gratitude and a few pressies for Myles, meet and greet was a successful, fun affair.
Before proceeding, I must reflect on one point and hope it is of interest, rather than self-indulgent hogwash, namely the nature of these musicians. I trust that it is of interest to fans that the objects of their deep admiration are such genuine, warm and sincerely appreciative people. The urgency and flow of a meet and greet procession and accompanying photo parade is an unfortunate, but a necessary evil. As much as we would all like more time with these people, most understand the requirement to stay on a schedule, but this same urgency does remind of the pre-tour interviews we have the privilege of enjoying and the same hustle that is inherent to that activity. There is simply no time for fluff and an overabundance of pleasantry but to be met in person with such genuine appreciation from these international stars is truly humbling and worth of note. To be known, noted, remembered and offered such gratitude is personally moving but moreover a vindication for admirers all. The members of both Alter Bridge and Like A Storm are just as genuine, friendly and appreciative as you could possibly imagine. If you did happen to make their acquaintance, shake their hand or receive a smile and a thank you, take heart that nothing is feigned for public appearances. Which provides me with a point of progression to the opening act.
Like A Storm are a thoroughly superb, exciting and truly remarkable band with a back story that is nothing short of inspirational. The very concept of didgeridoo metal is in itself, one element of their music, commonly causing a WTF among people the world over, but is a well-known quantity in the US particularly. Continuing to build on their ever-increasing popularity, the lads of LAS had to make a move to the career of music that would shrivel the goodies of most and leave us challenged of testicles, metaphorically speaking. Three brothers, joined now by long-time friend, nay family, in Zach Wood, decided to pack their hopes, dreams, and creativity into a vast suitcase of determination, relocate to the United States and make it work. A story of raw inspiration along with proof that working relentlessly with self-belief is the key to success. The story is somehow enhanced by the fact that their journey began in New Zealand and must have more than occasionally, seemed a task bigger than a Sunday stroll to Mordor, with creatures just as frightening as Orc’s littering their path. With a mere overview of their remarkable journey understood, their appearance on stage here in Australia is vastly exciting at very least. Emerging just across the ditch in NZ and now calling the US home, this tour in the very first time Like A Storm have played live in Oz. All assembled, these facts made for lofty expectations that LAS exceeded like a race car passing a lap board.
From the first notes of Chaos, Like A Storm demonstrated their considerable experience and revealed the fact that their sound was worth uprooting and relocating to build a fanbase. After Never Surrender and by Nothing Remains that fan base increased significantly here in Melbourne. Mouths were agape, hands were in the air and cheering seemed lined with delighted surprise. Many assembled know this band well and remain bewildered that their music was not met with greater appreciation here in Australia. That appreciation grew significantly here tonight and long-time followers seemed pleased with that result. After playing Enemy, Break Free and unveiling a killer new track in WYH (Wish You Hell) a Festival Hall crowd were well beyond pleased that they arrived in time to catch the support act. Now, if a rendition of an AC/DC classic like TNT doesn’t get an Aussie crowd going… well, let’s not entertain that ridiculous suggestion any further, suffice it to say that a classic cover was just not required. This audience were enjoying every ounce of Like A Storm to the point of Chris being ‘eaten’ by the crowd mid surf with only a mic held aloft like a snorkel and at the finale, the resounding comment was “I want more Like A Storm”. Brilliant, brilliant work. Superbly executed, fantastic crowd engagement and recordings just don’t do their live show justice. What a way to take Australia by storm. Pardon the pun lads, but you are so aptly named. Bravura.
With stage alterations completed and all inside the august chamber, we proceed to the main event. Many a murmuring audibly highlights reminiscence of Myles Kennedy on this very stage in 2015 with Slash and The Conspirators and so a huge roar from the assembled as he steps forth yet again.
As the mighty four erupt into The Writing On The Wall I stand astonished that we are not in a stadium with thousands enjoying the marvelous creations of Alter Bridge. To see the magnificent guitar magician Mark Tremonti demonstrate the unbelievable with the greatest of ease, should be a bucket list staple for all mankind. No, really. That’s not going too far, right Tremonti faithful?
As we explore early tracks like Come To Life, Father Than The Sun, Addicted and Ghosts an appreciation for the set list and sequence become more apparent. The concert is to be a true celebration of the Alter Bridge catalog which, in my humble opinion has culminated together and blended into their contemporary crescendo collection, The Last Hero. I cannot help but be blissfully content just absorbing the musical journey laid forth for us to enjoy.
The dexterous digits of Brian Marshall are a wonder to behold and without seeking to be unnecessarily crass, I don’t believe I could muster such pace of pinkie if it were my final fiddle. The rhythmic dynamic Brian brings to the Alter Bridge sound is best appreciated during a live show. Just amazing.
Cry Of Achilles is met with great favor before The Last Hero takes the appreciation to a new level. Ties holds its own and is performed superbly but, quite naturally My Champion takes the show from an epic concert, into a massive celebration of musical magnificence.
Perched aloft Scott Phillips keeps our maestros governed in time brilliantly, skilfully and enthusiastically. Scott is certainly not the drummer who sits unengaged at the rear just doing his thing. He is a critical contributor to the Alter Bridge sound sensation and to watch him in action is thrilling at very least.
And as for the brilliant master Myles Kennedy, what words could possibly muster an adequate description of his skill as a writer and performer? I exhaust my vocabulary in a vain attempt adequately describe his sheer excellence. In a single word, breathtaking. To take the description any further would be a perfect demonstration of guiding a lily. There is simply no need of further adornment.
I believe there was a certain satisfaction for Myles when the crowd took over the vocals for Watch Over You, both loud and perfectly clear.
A huge cheer for Blackbird fills the venue with an air of adoration for Alter Bridge and Open Your Eyes is sung back to the band with an equal measure of appreciation.
A sensational lead into Metalingus from Scott is truly thrilling, and upon completion, the band leaves the stage as a traditional formality before returning to an already pleased crowd. What could contemporary Alter bridge show possibly be sans Show Me A Leader? Any future Alter Bridge shows without this instant classic is quite difficult to envisage, but anyone with a knowledge of this band’s remarkable protagonists will be sure that subsequent brilliant additions to their already thrilling catalog will not be far away. This track is met with a welcome that you would reasonably expect.
Superb soaring solos, almost dueling from Myles and met with Mark’s magnificence in retort, as we head into Rise Today in the encore and set finale. Then it’s over. I don’t know how the mighty Alter Bridge feel but we, their admiring mass are thoroughly spent. What a sensational we have witnessed here tonight and it is my sincere hope that we will see both bands back again soon because nights this incredible do not come around very often in life.
Thank you Alter Bridge. Thank you Like A Storm. Just, wow. Thank you.