Wembley Arena, London
18 October 2013
Louder Than War headed off to Wembley Arena a few days ago to check out American rock band Alter Bridge who are currently in the middle of a world tour.
That moment of calm before chaos ensues – Gandalf called it the ‘deep breath before the plunge’. If Alter Bridge’s 2010 album AB III had them standing poised on the edge of massiveness, then their new album, the blistering Fortress, is the sound of the band catapulting off that precipice. Tonight isn’t the first time they’ve sold-out Wembley arena, but this gig feels like an arrival.
Before their moment though, there’s Halestorm. Led by vixen Lzzy Hale, thrashing in massive heels, they kick things off with a fun and feisty, fist-pumping 30 minute set of dirty metal-pop hooks, buffed with plenty of spit and polish. Fast forward another 30 minutes and there seems to have been an influx into Wembley of people wearing Shinedown T-shirts, an observation made more upsetting when you think the proceeds are going to pay for the band to churn out more sub-Nickelback bollocks like they’re playing tonight, bloated by bombast and over-earnest motivational speaking.
Alter Bridge have spent the majority of their career being criminally underrated; scoffed at for being too radio-ready, not dangerous enough, too Christian and for being… well three quarters of Creed. In all seriousness though, Alter Bridge were never mired in the bowels of post-grunge, and now the joke’s firmly on their detractors. The thrashy riffs of set opener, and Fortress first single, ‘Addicted to Pain’ are like a sonic middle finger, proving their latest work is easily their most exciting and heaviest to date. Guitarist Mark Tremonti, gurns with every note, firing out shrieking solos left, right and centre while bassist Brian Marshall drives the crushing weight of the bottom-end forward – both of them clearly having the time of their lives. A two-pronged attack follows with the bludgeoning ‘White Knuckles’ and ‘Come to Life’, setting such a breakneck pace for the rest of the evening that we feel we’re galloping to keep up.
While they’ve always displayed a ton more musical technicality than Creed, it’s always been specifically frontman Myles Kennedy who set Alter Bridge’s sound aside. His yelps and formidable wails on the electrifying ‘Metalingus’ are nothing short of jaw dropping, while its neck and neck for who can sing loudest between Kennedy and ten thousand fans during the soaring chorus of ‘Blackbird’. He’s so faultless you could almost be listening to an original recording therefore it’s almost touching when he messes up on the eerie intro to ‘Slip Into the Void.’ Aside from that it’s a perfect performance from a band for whom everything seems to be just slotting effortlessly into place. They’ve built up a bulging back-catalogue of anthems most bands would die for having always believed in their own abilities, now they’ve made us believe in them too. This is their time.
All words by Dannii Leivers. More writing by Dannii on Louder Than War can be found at her author’s archive.