Alter Bridge + Shinedown + Halestorm @ NIA, Birmingham – Thursday 17th October 2013

Alter Bridge + Shinedown + Halestorm @ NIA, Birmingham – Thursday 17th October 2013Alter Bridge + Shinedown + Halestorm @ NIA, Birmingham – Thursday 17th October 2013Alter Bridge + Shinedown + Halestorm @ NIA, Birmingham – Thursday 17th October 2013Alter Bridge + Shinedown + Halestorm @ NIA, Birmingham – Thursday 17th October 2013Alter Bridge + Shinedown + Halestorm @ NIA, Birmingham – Thursday 17th October 2013Alter Bridge + Shinedown + Halestorm @ NIA, Birmingham – Thursday 17th October 2013Alter Bridge + Shinedown + Halestorm @ NIA, Birmingham – Thursday 17th October 2013Alter Bridge + Shinedown + Halestorm @ NIA, Birmingham – Thursday 17th October 2013Alter Bridge + Shinedown + Halestorm @ NIA, Birmingham – Thursday 17th October 2013Alter Bridge + Shinedown + Halestorm @ NIA, Birmingham – Thursday 17th October 2013Alter Bridge + Shinedown + Halestorm @ NIA, Birmingham – Thursday 17th October 2013Alter Bridge + Shinedown + Halestorm @ NIA, Birmingham – Thursday 17th October 2013

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Having seen Halestorm four times now, in various venues of differing shapes and sizes, my first thought tonight is that of slight disappointment. From the very first time I saw them, they appeared to be polished, exciting, confident, and arena-ready, but tonight they have an air of a band who have become slightly complacent after their meteoric rise this past year.

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The opening notes of Love Bites (So Do I) herald the beginning of a set that is not terrible, far from it, but one that is riddled with silly mistakes. Normally this would pale into insignificance, this is rock ‘n’ roll after all, but when judged against the razor sharp sets of Alter Bridge and (more noticeably) Shinedown, every error counts. During Mz. Hyde, for instance, Arejay’s (Hale – Drums) precocious antics prove to be his undoing, with an errant drumstick contributing to a severe lack of drumbeat during the second verse. Overconfidence seems to a be a theme of a band who do not seem to possess quite the same fire and passion that they had even so recently as their headlining stint earlier this year.

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Tonight’s Halestorm set contains everything the average show-going punter would want from a rock show. Lzzy (Hale – Vocals/Guitar) and the boys aren’t afraid of their audience, have a well prepared sing-along set that makes half an hour seem like five minutes, and have more than enough personality to fill the gaping void of the NIA, but they just don’t seem to mean it this evening. And that’s a shame.

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Shinedown, on the other hand hit the stage with a driving sound that could be balanced on the head of a pin and the conviction of men who have been tasked with a mission from God. Yes, they use a considerable amount of backing tracks, guitar synthesisers, and vocal harmonisers, and yes, they are about as far removed from what I would call rock as it is possible to get, but their live show tonight shows a band nothing short of unstoppable.

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During the brooding intro to Enemies, Brent Smith (Vocals) whips the crowd into a frenzy commanding the whole of the pit to jump to his will, causing such fervour that I can feel the floor springing beneath my feet way back by the mixing desk. Diamond Eyes also causes similar mania, with the deafening roar of ‘boom-lay boom-lay boom’ resounding like a war cry through central Birmingham.

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Normally a band like Shinedown wouldn’t interest me, after but this evening’s performance I would recommend them as a live band to anyone. The power, precision, and self-belief of this band are second to none. They convey that to an audience who are more than happy to become a part of their slice of Americana and put aside the slightly preachy between song spiel.

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How Alter Bridge ever actually find time to get together long enough to make an album, let alone tour, is a mystery to most of us. Myles (Kennedy – Vocals/Guitar) travels the world with Slash, Mark (Tremonti – Guitar) has formed his own band, and Scott (Phillips – Drums) has been rocking with Projected (not to mention three quarters of the band’s Creed commitments). None of this, however, seems to have affected the consistently stellar quality of Alter Bridge’s output.

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Touring in support of their current effort, Fortress, the evening opens with the latest single Addicted To Pain and, a few technical issues aside, the set is off to a roaring start. After the rigid style of Shinedown, the natural interplay between Myles’ and Mark’s guitar and vocal skills is a perfect compliment to what has come before it. Free-form jazz, it is not, but it is impossible to deny the chemistry between the four-piece during the heartfelt Ghost Of Days Gone By or the epic staple Blackbird.

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Looking around this evening, it’s clear that Alter Bridge have appeal that spans generations. Rock fans old and young have turned out to see them, yet sadly there are more than a few empty seats around the NIA. If the rock and metal community won’t turn out to support a fantastic line-up like this, that leaves precious little hope for the burgeoning scene.

Halestorm Set List:
Love Bites (So Do I)
Mz. Hyde
Freak Like Me
Drum Solo
Dissident Aggressor (Judas Priest Cover)
I Miss The Misery
Here’s To Us

Shinedown Set List:
Devour
Sound of Madness
Enemies
Unity
I’ll Follow You
Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)
If You Only Knew
Second Chance
Acoustic Medley
Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd Cover)
Bully

Alter Bridge Set List:
Addicted To Pain
White Knuckles
Come To Life
Before Tomorrow Comes
Farther Than The Sun
Brand New Start
Cry Of Achilles
Ghost Of Days Gone By
The Uninvited
Ties That Bind
Broken Wings
Metalingus
Blackbird
Watch Over You
Rise Today
Open Your Eyes

Encore:
Slip To The Void
Isolation

Review by Baz Blackett

Photos by Katie Foulkes

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