As many of the behemoths of rock music call it a day and hang up their guitars, questions now loom over who will take their place. There is one band that is always first to be mentioned; ALTER BRIDGE. The modern rock outfit have exploded over the last decade through consistently solid studio records and a live reputation which has led the band to steadily climb up the lineups of the biggest festivals. Now, with album number five, The Last Hero, under their belts ALTER BRIDGE sought to further stake their claim as one of modern rock’s biggest names with a tour of the UK’s biggest arenas.
With a serving of three support bands before the main attraction, New Zealand’s LIKE A STORM served to whip up the enthusiasm as the arena steadily filled up. The four piece’s blend of heavy metal was nothing particular fresh or original but largely, the chugging rhythm from Matt Brooks‘ guitar and Zach Wood‘s drums kept the beat aligned to the crowd’s taste. There was no denying that frontman Chris Brooks has the necessary qualities to front a band performing on a stage this size, whose enthusiasm was more than commendable but for all his energy, the crowd just did not deliver it back. Failed attempts at crowd sing-a-longs left large sections of LIKE A STORM‘s choruses feeling flat and the inclusion of didgeridoo, not only further enforced the stereotype, but felt like a cry for originality rather than an intriguing addition to the band’s sound. Sadly, the overall performance from LIKE A STORM was forgettable, lacking the creative energy and spark to leave a lasting impression.
GOJIRA feel out of place on the lineup. With special guests VOLBEAT and headliners ALTER BRIDGE firmly aligned more towards hard rock, GOJIRA‘s explosive sound was a gamble for sure. With the band’s latest record, Magma, exploring a more cleaner sound compared to their back catalogue, it was surprising that the band exploded into life through the intricate riffing from Joe Duplantier on Ouroborus. From there, the band kept the momentum at a ferocious intensity. From the utterly monstrous blasts on The Heaviest Matter of the Universe to the infectious drumming from Mario Duplantier on Flying Whales, GOJIRA‘s sound was enormous and one that benefited in an arena. Whilst the band offered little time to interact with the crowd and let their music do the talking, it was disappointing to witness such a stationary audience, however, that didn’t detract from the sheer colossal sound that was at GOJIRA‘s disposal. Joe Duplantier combined well with lead guitarist Christian Andreu and bassist Jean-Michel Labadie to create a huge wall of distorted riffing whilst Mario Duplantier chaotically unleashed a plethora of double-bass drumming. It’s clear the French outfit opted for a shock and awe approach to their performance, and the results were utterly effective.
VOLBEAT are a difficult band to pigeon-hole into one style of heavy music. The Danish outfit’s reach hits heavy much and hard rock as much as it does country and the result gave VOLBEAT a performance that was a spectacle from start to finish. Consistently throughout the band’s performance these styles were explored to the fullest, from the slick thrash metal influenced riffing on Seal The Deal which generated one of the few circle pits of the evening, much to frontman Michael Poulsen‘s amusement, to utilising a cover of Ring of Fire to serve as an emphatic intro to Sad Man’s Tongue, there was rarely a dull moment to VOLBEAT‘s set. This was further enforced through the sheer enthusiasm present within the band. Whilst Jon Larson‘s drumming and Kaspar Boye Larsen‘s bass tones kept the beat packed full of groove consistently, the showboating talents of lead guitarist Rob Caggiano time and time again dazzled the swelling crowd through slick solos that were performed effortlessly. Frontman Michael Poulsen‘s enthusiasm was incredibly contagious, regularly engaging in banter with the crowd whilst always packing a enormous grin. That, in itself is the best way to describe VOLBEAT‘s set, one that was at its core, just pure fun to experience.
Coming into this tour, there was a feeling felt across many involved in the rock and metal scene that ALTER BRIDGE have the potential to be a future titan in the scene, replacing the iconic bands that are falling like flies. With such pressure, it’s easy to assume that the band could falter at the first hurdle, but ALTER BRIDGE gave a performance that clearly bolsters their claim to the throne of rock music. With an enormous stage to make their own, backed with a electronic backdrop to aid their visual impact, the band gave a performance that was moving, infectious and mightily impressive.
Throughout their staggering 17 song set, ALTER BRIDGE delivered a truly breathtaking performance that ebbed and flowed in glorious rhythm. From the soaring chorus of Ghost of Days Gone By to the slick riffing on Isolation, the band delivered in grand fashion. With the tour coming in the wake of the band’s latest record, The Last Hero, it made no surprise that a significant portion of the band’s set was comprised of new material. The new songs held their own compared to the band’s back catalogue and rightly so, as the live environment only bolstered their impact with My Champion sure to be an anthem in the coming months. Mark Tremonti took centre stage for the performance of Waters Rising showcasing his individual talent to great effect, with his contrasting vocals to Myles Kennedy holding their own. Kennedy himself has grown to be one of modern rock’s greatest vocalists and his performance only enforced this. Kennedy‘s vocal deliveries were consistently throughout and with the addition of a tear-jerking acoustic delivery of Watch Over You being a standout highlight, the point has more than been proven. ALTER BRIDGE delivered a performance that truly showcased why they are considered one of modern rock’s biggest names.
Check out our photo gallery from the night’s action in Manchester from photographer Sabrina Ramdoyal here: