Alter Bridge / Shinedown / The Raven Age (Manchester)

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Alter Bridge / Shinedown / The Raven Age - Manchester Arena, Manchester (UK) - 15 December 2019

Unfortunately, I missed The Raven Age, who were drafted in as last minute replacements for Sevendust who had to drop out at the eleventh hour due to illness of drummer Morgan Rose. Speaking to friends who did see the band, they did seem impressed with the London-based Melodic Metal band.

I just got to my seat on the lower tier, at the rear of the arena, as the lights went down and the stage lights began flashing for the arrival of Shinedown. The sound was good and Brent Smith was in fine voice; the exclamation marks from the last studio album 'Attention! Attention!' were used to great effect in the stage lighting, with the focal point being the "d" from the band's logo.

Unfortunately, after only two songs we were subjected to the usual five minutes of pointless ramblings from Smith. I believe he is genuine in his commentary; however, the left-hand side singing against the right-hand side did not do it for me in the early eighties, when I first started going to live concerts, and my opinion has not changed over the years. It did, nevertheless, lead to most of the arena bouncing up and down to the beginning of the hyper-energetic 'Enemies'.

We got not one, but two covers in their eleven song set. The usual 'Simple Man' was sung almost as loudly as the original by Lynyrd Skynyrd (both band's hometown being Jacksonville, Florida) a few months earlier in the same venue. The second was Oasis' 'Don't Look Back In Anger', which was played as a tribute to the city of Manchester. I was obviously in the minority not liking it; not a bad song, but I would have preferred another Shinedown original. Still, it was a poignant tribute to the city that stood strong in the face of terrorism.

'The Sound Of Madness' is still to me the pinnacle of their career to date, and judging by the reaction to 'Second Chance' and the aforementioned title-track, I was not alone in this viewpoint. 'Brilliant', which suitably described this evening's performance, concluded their fantastic set.

Setlist: Devil / Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom) / Enemies / Monsters / Get Up / Cut The Cord / Second Chance / Simple Man / The Sound Of Madness / Don't Look Back In Anger / Brilliant

There are not many bands that could confidently follow Shinedown, but then Alter Bridge are no ordinary band. The four-piece that developed from supergroup Creed have paid their dues and worked their way from the clubs and small theatres to now filling out arenas.
The intro-tape of 'One Life' saw the four band members, all dressed in black, stroll onto the stage to a massive reception and straight into 'Wouldn't You Rather'. The huge stage, complete with fifteen rectangular screens (used to show images during the seventeen song set, but not utilised to show close-ups of the band members) at times almost looked too big, as Myles Kennedy (guitar and vocals) Mark Tremonti (guitar), Brian Marshall (bass), Scott Phillips (drums) constantly huddled together, reminding us (not that we needed reminding) what a tight-knit group they are.

My greatest fear was an awful, muddy sound; fortunately, that did not transpire. Instead, it was loud and clear and relatively good for an arena show. Kennedy, one of the coolest Rock stars on the planet (as well as one of the hardest working) was in fine voice, and to my ears, was not holding back as I have read in other reviews of the tour.
The new songs, 'Wouldn't You Rather', Pay No Mind', 'Dying Light', 'Take The Crown' and 'Forever Falling' from the excellent 'Walk The Sky' opus, blended perfectly with the AB classics. 'My Champion' was a late addition to the set and was included at the bequest of a fan who the band had bumped into earlier in the day. Alter Bridge are definitely the good guys of Metal and augmented this reputation even further when they gave away a brand new guitar to one lucky fan, courtesy of "Santa Tremonti"!

If the first half of the show was good, then the second was almost off the scale. 'Rise Today', with Christmas just round the corner, sent the crowd into overdrive. The intensity increased further with 'Take The Crown', 'Cry Of Achilles' (complete with great video) and 'Forever Falling', before Kennedy and Tremonti gave us the emotional 'In Loving Memory', which I'm not too proud to admit had me welling up. The ferocious rhythm section of Marshall and Phillips rejoined their band mates for what was probably most fans' highlight of the evening, the stunning 'Blackbird', just leaving 'Open Your Eyes' and 'Metalingus' from the glorious debut album 'One Day Remains' to close the main set.
The band returned for a two song-encore, which highlighted the melody and power the band posses in equal measures, starting with the latest single, the ultra melodic 'Godspeed' (one of the best songs they have ever written in my humble opinion). The set was brought to a grand finale with arguably their heaviest track, 'Addicted To Pain'.
The atmosphere was electric and there was a real feel good ambience throughout the whole evening, juxtaposed to the brutal brilliance of Alter Bridge.

I massive thanks to my little sister who bought me my ticket for my birthday back in July. I may not have bothered going otherwise, which would have been a great shame as this was easily the best that I had seen Alter Bridge (and possibly Shinedown).

Setlist: Wouldn't You Rather / Isolation / Come To Life / Pay No Mind / Ghost Of Days Gone By / My Champion / Dying Light / Rise Today / Take The Crown / Cry Of Achilles / Forever Falling / In Loving Memory / Blackbird / Open Your Eyes / Metalingus
Encore: Godspeed / Addicted To Pain

Review by Mark Donnelly

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