Shinedown @ Birmingham Barfly – 22nd January 2009

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Playing a venue as small as the Barfly must be somewhat strange for a band like Shinedown — even if this is only their first headline tour in this country — because back home in the US they are a huge success; albums one and two have been certified gold and platinum respectively, and they are used to playing arenas. And yet, they are still relatively unknown over here, although that does look set to change.

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Kicking things off with “Cry For Help” from their most recent album — the excellent ‘The Sound of Madness’ — Shinedown’s class is evident for the packed Barfly to see.  They are an incredibly tight unit on stage, combining pounding rhythms with a clear, crunchy guitar tone, but their undoubted stage leader is singer Brent Smith, a great live singer and a great songwriter to boot, who expresses his lyrics with passion and power, although he does have a tendency to ramble a bit in between numbers.  What he says is empowering and uplifting, but sometimes you would just prefer him to be singing again.  The band also have a great range of sounds — they can blitz your ears with numbers like “Cyanide Sweet Tooth Suicide”, and then bring you back down again with the wonderfully melodic “Crow and the Butterfly” — all of which makes for a varied and entertaining show.

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The band are also completely unfazed by their supposed anonymity over here, as they gladly serve up a selection of their older songs with an assured, confident air.  Judging by the high proportion of those in the crowd singing along to these older numbers, Shinedown are actually much better known here than people may suggest.  As the set goes on, there are more examples of Shinedown’s pedigree, with songs like “Sound of Madness”, “Burning Bright”, “.45” and “Devour” highlighting exactly what they are about, and why there is something of a fuss about them — great songs with choruses you can learn on one listen, and melodies that will stay in your head all day.

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In a stripped down environment that venues like the Barfly provide, you soon see why Shinedown have had such a level of success when you can up close and personal like tonight; simplicity.  Shinedown don’t do anything particularly out of the ordinary, but as a straight-up, melodic hard rock band they are very hard to fault, and they are highly entertaining to watch.  They work hard, are superb on stage, have some great songs, and quite simply deserve whatever success that may come their way.

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Cry For Help
Cyanide Sweet Tooth Suicide
If You Only Knew
Left Out
Burning Bright
The Crow and the Butterfly
Sound of Madness
Save Me
Shed Some Light
Second Chance
Fly From the Inside

Review and photos — Dave Musson

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