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Alter Bridge Capital FM Arena, Nottingham October 16 2013 (Live Review)

Monday, 21 October 2013 Written by Alec Chillingworth

Alter Bridge are a bit of an odd one. Since their ill-received debut album in 2004, the band have started writing better tunes and risen through the ranks of rock 'n' roll's elite, taking their progressive-tinged rawk machine across the globe. Their fourth album, 'Fortress', scored them a #6 slot on the UK album charts. They sold out Wembley Arena a couple of years back, and are heading back there on this tour. So why on earth are Alter Bridge not headlining festivals by now?

It's a question that requires a well thought out answer, so while we ponder, Halestorm have arrived and are doing a superb job at getting the party started. The infectious stomp of Grammy-Award winning Love Bites... (So Do I) incites a raucous sing-along; this is the sort of stuff you expect from a headline act, not the opening band.

Vocalist/six-stringer Lzzy Hale commands the crowd as if she's been doing it since she was in nappies, while her brother, Arejay, does his best at abusing his drumkit and looking a bit too much like John 5.

As a rule, unless you're Joey Jordison or the dude from Crossfaith, you should be banned from drum solos. But Arejay breaks this rule with vicious glee, jumping up and down as he twats his kit into oblivion. Again, it's this sort of stuff you'd expect to see from a headliner. Halestorm are going to be huge.

Dim lighting and a moody atmosphere seep into the arena, heralding the arrival of Shinedown. Sticking mainly to tunes from their last two albums, 'The Sound of Madness' and 'Amaryllis', this is yet another band that seems like they're headlining.

Brent Smith is a consummate frontman, demanding that those in seats must rise. 'You ain't in church... You're at a rock show!'. True story, Brent. While his preaching and praising regarding the power of music does border on cheesy at times, it can't possibly detract from the hard rock gems of Second Chance and Bully. Transitions between songs are occasionally too long and start verging on uncomfortable, but this is an otherwise tiny niggle in tonight's proceedings. Plus, even if you don't like the music, you can just spend the entire set staring at bassist Eric Bass. He's got Marilyn Manson make-up on and he's mental.

Chants of 'ALTER BRIDGE!' drown out the PA system, and the opening bars of Addicted To Pain are churned out. What happens next can only be described as roughly 100 minutes of musical perfection. Myles Kennedy looks sharper than one of Jack The Ripper's favourite toys, his gaunt figure belting out some of the most incredible vocals in the history of anything, ever. Musically, the numbers from 'Fortress' are heavier than earlier releases, but it's made even more so apparent in the live arena. Addicted To Pain is absolutely crushing.

The band just doesn't let up for a single millisecond. Consistently tight and consistently precise, this is a group of musicians at the absolute top of their game. Let's forget that most of them used to be in Creed, because this just shits on everything. Mark Tremonti is known for his technical ability, but this is just on a completely new level. His soloing on Brand New Start is just absurdly bang-on, while his to-ing and fro-ing with Kennedy during Blackbird is one of those moments that you feel should be etched into the minds of any budding musician, because this is what they should be aspiring to do.

The show is inevitably stolen by Kennedy and Temonti, leaving bassist Brian Marshall to lurk in the background looking grumpy. Drummer Scott Phillips lays down the foundations of Alter Bridge's concrete fortress of noise, reaching for a MIDI-pad  every now and again to concoct a truly bone-shattering thump.

Of course, they play Rise Today and Slip To The Void. They're aiming to please, but it's just so refreshing to see new tracks like Cry Of Achilles actually get a better reaction from the audience than some of the classics. This band has been sailing under the radar for far too long. They demand to be heard, and accompanied by their strongest collection of songs thus far, Alter Bridge could, perhaps should, be headlining Download Festival in a few years. Watch this space.

Alter Bridge UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows

Mon October 21st 2013 - GLASGOW The Hydro
Tue October 22nd 2013 - MANCHESTER Phones 4u Arena

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