Alter Bridge

support Black Stone Cherry
author PP date 10/11/11 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

My second visit to Store Vega within three days, and the second time the venue has announced full capacity shortly after doors opening. Two days ago it was Flogging Molly who treated us to an evening full of dancing to the tunes of Irish folk punk. Tonight's honors go to alternative rockers Alter Bridge, who played this same venue three years ago. Along with them they have brought Black Stone Cherry, one of the finest southern-tinged alternative rock bands in the US today.

Black Stone Cherry

When Black Stone Cherry played at Loppen two years ago, I took note of a couple of aspects in particular from their performance. One, their brand of alternative rock is as arch american radio rock as it comes with huge power choruses, classic rock influenced mini solos, and all that sort of stuff. Though the songs aren't exactly complicated, they are catchy and enjoyable in a live environment because they are so easily accessible. Two - and this is the more important notion - reading the vocalist's facial expressions he really looks like the guitar is an extension of his body during the many solos, where he really appears to really live. It's this kind of attitude and passion for their music that makes Black Stone Cherry a far more interesting band than most in their genre.

Tonight, both notions are again present, though the mainstream radio rock vibe has been played up considerably. They have always owned that classic rock band look, but now they also look and act like a seasoned arena rock act throughout the set. We're talking plenty of crowd control: requests to pump our fists, to get our hands up in the air, for horns, clapping, etc are all in great quantity tonight. But we're also talking impressive stage show. The guitarist and the bassist rock out admirably throughout the set, whether that means headbanging, switching positions in swift fashion, playing with one leg up the drumkit, entering a triple Judas Priest inspired formation at the front of the stage with the vocalist...it's all there. The little aspects that made the Loppen show so great aren't forgotten either: performing a short solo with the guitar placed on top of ones head might be a gimmick, but it's engaging and the gets the crowd going. On top of that, the band teases the crowd with short renditions of Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama".Perhaps the show isn't as intimate tonight as it was at Loppen, and perhaps Black Stone Cherry have taken on a wholly mainstream look given the success they've had in the past couple of years, but it's still pretty good overall, and certainly an impressive support showing that gets the crowd going, who initially looked like they had no idea who these guys were.

Alter Bridge

Despite a strong showing by Black Stone Cherry earlier, there's no question who the crowd is here to see tonight. A sense of expectation lingers in the air when the first Alter Bridge member enters the stage, and starts quietly building up to "Slip To The Void". Slowly, the song becomes louder as the band enter the mix one-by-one, until an eruption of sound during the breaking point of the song. It's a great, almost cinematic start to the show, and from here onwards, Alter Bridge uphold a frightening level of consistency throughout the show. They have been doing this for so many years now that they know exactly how to handle themselves on a large stage in terms of movement, appearance, crowd control, et cetera, evident in how the band take turns on focusing closely on different parts of the crowd, all the while displaying a big anthemic rock band image.

It suits Alter Bridge, though, and they never come across as fake or pretentious. In fact, whenever Myles addresses the crowd, his interaction sounds genuine and friendly, and why shouldn't it be? They are receiving an incredible response from the crowd, who go wild for the heavier songs, but aren't afraid to pull out lighters and mobile phones for the acoustic renditions of "Watch Over You" and "Wonderful Life", the latter of which receives a thunderous sing along during the chorus. When a female member of the audience holds up a pencil-drawn portrait of singer Myles, which eventually makes its way to the stage, he holds it up for the rest of the crowd to see and thanks the girl for drawing (which was fantastic from what I could see - a lot of effort had gone into it). And during some of the bigger sing alongs, he isn't afraid to move backwards away from the mic, so that the crowd can fill in his parts where necessary.

Myles is such a great singer that he can easily run away with the show, but lead guitarist Mark Tremonti isn't having any of that, showcasing some unbelievable guitar work from their latest album "AB III" that electrifies the crowd. People are standing there spellbound as they watch him run his fingers effortlessly through the fretboard.Even more so when Tremonti and Kennedy have a guitar solo battle before the last song, where I was certain the former had beaten the latter on the first round, until Kennedy pulls out an extraordinarily good solo, and then Tremonti responds by playing one of the most breathtaking sequences of guitar soloing I've ever witnessed live to top off the night.

As "Rise Today" predictably ends their 90+ minute concert, we've learned a few new things about Alter Bridge: a) the new songs sound amazing live. b) Tremonti has never been better at his instrument. c) Myles is one of the great American singers with timeless delivery and execution. And d) Alter Bridge are slowly but surely working their way up the ladder towards becoming one of today's biggest rock bands without sacrificing an ounce of artistic integrity.

Setlist:

  • 1. Slip to the Void
  • 2. Buried Alive
  • 3. Ghost of Days Gone By
  • 4. I Know It Hurts
  • 5. All Hope Is Gone
  • 6. Metalingus
  • 7. Broken Wings
  • 8. Come to Life
  • 9. One Day Remains
  • 10. Coeur D'Alene
  • 11. Wonderful Life (Acoustic)
  • 12. Watch Over You (Acoustic)
  • 13. Blackbird
  • 14. Find the Real
  • 15. Isolation
  • --Encore--
  • 16. Open Your Eyes
  • 17. Rise Today

Photo credit: Jacob Dinesen

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