Hundreds of people packed the Playstation Theatre in New York City on Tuesday, September 24, for a night of rockin’ out. Alter Bridge and Skillet co-headlined the Victorious Sky Tour with special guest Dirty Honey.
The LA based rockers – Dirty Honey kicked off their set with their song “Scars” off of their self titled EP. Their 6 song set also included: “When I’m Gone” and “Rolling 7s.”
Skillet, the Tennessee based Christian rock band, performed next and kicked off their set with “Feel Invincible” off their album Unleashed. When performing “You Ain’t Ready” off their new album Victorious, John Cooper, the band’s lead singer wore a suit with Co2 cannons attached to his arms. During both “Awake and Alive” and “Hero” the band’s drummer and vocalist, Jen Ledger, came off her drum kit and sang while not playing drums. John Cooper also took a break during the set before performing “Victorious” to speak about mental health. Throughout their 13 song set they played tracks off of five of their albums.
Alter Bridge closed out the night with a rocking performance. They kicked off their set with “Wouldn’t You Rather” off of their soon to be released sixth album Walk the Sky. The band also performed 2 additional songs off of that album, “In the Deep” and “Pay No Mind.” They closed out their set with some of their classics: “Blackbird”, “Metalingus”, and “Open Your Eyes.”
If you missed the show, you can catch the Victorious Sky Tour around the country on their remaining tour dates. Visit the Alter Bridge’s official website for ticket information.
Earlier this year, I had the honor to cover one of my favorite bands, Alter Bridge, at a concert they were playing nearby. When I arrived, the line was wrapped around the block, and that was five minutes after the doors had opened. And this wasn’t an arena show! So, I can only imagine how long the lines must have run outside of the O2 Arena in London when the band came to town. But what occurred outside the arena is not my concern, but rather the events which unfolded inside. I was given the opportunity to listen to the upcoming three-disc (or “that’s a lot of mp3s!” digital) collection entitled “Live At The O2 Arena + Rarities,” out Sept. 8, and I’m here to give you my minimally biased opinion – minimally, since I am a fan of the band.
Far be it from me to step on anyone’s toes, but I’m going to start with my least favorite part of this release first and work my way up. And this isn’t “least favorite” in the fanboy-sense of “it just wasn’t long enough!” Rather, there are moments, mainly during some of the heavier tracks, where the production on the guitars comes across rather muddy, or perhaps Mr. Tremonti simply lays into the wah pedal a hair too generously. This is quite noticeable in “Metalingus,” which was released as one of the promotional singles for this album. Luckily, however, this is neither a continuous nor frequent issue, and hardly takes anything away from the overall experience.
So let us broach the great and the grand now, shall we? The meat and potatoes of this collection is the two-disc live release. For those of you who are die-hard fans, you have probably already pre-ordered this album, or are sure to do so unless I say the most egregious of things. However, for those of you who have never listened to Alter Bridge and are looking for a pooling of some of their best songs, I’d say this is a great way to jump in. While most of the tunes come from the newest studio album, The Last Hero, there is a healthy dose of the previous LP, Fortress, and their sophomore release, Blackbird. The latter even sees the appearance of its title track, weighing in at nine minutes flat and standing out to me as one of the finest moments of the whole collection with its overwhelming emotionality. Also approaching the top of my list, is Myles Kennedy’s solo guitar rendition of “Watch Over You,” featuring a fully-animated audience taking control of the vocals for a portion of the song. And after all, audience-participation is the ultimate point of a concert, isn’t it?
“…I had no f*#!ing idea it was going to end up here,” admits Kennedy, in the 30 minute documentary which comes with the Earbook edition (limited to 1000 copies), beautifully put together by Sturge Media in association with Napalm Records. He is referring, of course, to the band’s exponential growth into an arena act over its 13 year career. And it’s wonderful to have such a video included, interviewing not only the band, but members of their road crew as well. From lyrical direction, to guitar masterclasses, to fan meet and greets, it bounds about and does a nice job showcasing the human element behind the culmination of over a decade’s worth of music.
Speaking of culminations, I can’t forget that we’re also treated to a whole album’s worth of rarities. Perhaps most interesting to hardcore fans will be two songs which have been unreleased up to now, “Cruel Sun” and “Solace,” both of which were recorded during sessions for the debut, One Day Remains. The other nine tracks have found their way onto special editions of each studio album released thus far, but it’s nice to see them brought together here for those who might have missed them the first time around. I honestly hadn’t realized that “Zero” and “Home” from ABIII were bonus tracks, as I’ve been wearing that disc out for years and can’t imagine the record without them. The rest of the tracks are new to me, and it’s been a welcome occasion to get better acquainted with them.
Thinking back to my own live-in-concert Alter Bridge experience, I can’t help but smile as I listen to these songs. Myles, Mark, Brian Marshall, and Scott Phillips aren’t just “musicians’ musicians” – to quote their drum tech, Shane Hall – they’re also great songwriters. And the greatness of the songs isn’t simply a melodic twist, a crazy solo, or a wicked bassline (though those certainly help), but how each of these things coalesce with meaningful lyrics which resonate with their fans. And for them, the live show isn’t about getting smashed and slamming into one another, though mosh pits have their place, but rather it’s a cathartic experience where their own inner demons dissipate with thousands of like-minded individuals, each unique in their struggles, but bonded by the shared love of these pieces. You may not personally have anything approaching a religious experience when listening to these tracks, but take the time to check out the songs, absorb the lyrics, and perhaps you’ll understand the enjoyment and connection that an entire arena in London shared on Nov. 26, 2016.
You know those moments when you realize you underestimated the situation? Those times when it clicks a little too late that you may not have taken all the factors into account. Recently, I had the pleasure of a moment just like that – arriving to see Alter Bridge on “The Last Hero Tour,” supported by Nonpoint, at The Fillmore in Silver Spring, MD on February 10, 2017. As I exited the parking garage, with the venue just a block away, my eyes fell upon a line which stretched all the way down and around the corner…5 minutes after the venue doors had been scheduled to open. Taking my place at the rear of the crowd, myself and others joked that we wouldn’t all be able to get in and would be turned away when we finally arrived to the door. We inched forward in spurts, others still filing into line behind us, keeping the queue wrapped well to the opposite side of the block from the venue entrance. I found out then that there was a band, Weapons Of Anew, scheduled to start playing at 7:20. Halfway around the block and it was already 7:25. By the time I made my way inside the concert hall it was about 7:50, with the first band finishing up their set and packing their equipment. I’m not sure any photographer arrived in time to shoot that first set. Needless to say, if the show wasn’t sold out it certainly felt like it!
I’m a pretty recent Nonpoint listener. I had heard of them for several years, but never gave them a listen until guitarist B.C. Kochmit joined the fold. I followed his work with another fine band, Eye Empire, and knew his addition to this act would be something to witness. If you’ve heard their latest album, The Poison Red, you know I’m not mistaken. He brings talent to an already bustling band, infusing his sense of groove with their own. The result is amazing! While I wasn’t familiar with all the songs performed that evening, a few caught my ear. Perhaps what astounded the audience most, outside of the band’s extremely energetic stage presence, was their rendition of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight.” Unexpected, to say the least. The other thing that caught my attention was the consideration each of the members gave to their fans. Towards the very beginning of their set, bassist Adam Woloszyn noticed two small children in the front row (right behind where I had planted myself to begin photographing) and handed them both a guitar pick, followed in turn by Kochmit, and a drumstick apiece from Robb Rivera. The look of enthusiasm in those children’s eyes and the pleasure it brought to the band set the stage for the rest of their awesome set.
I used to get made fun of by my friends because, while I didn’t find the entire catalog to be of interest, Creed had certain songs that really hit me. I found that it was more the rhythm section that captured my interest than anything else. So years ago, when I discovered that same rhythm section had gone on to form Alter Bridge, I was ecstatic to check them out. Five albums later, I’d certainly glad I did. This was my first time seeing the ensemble in concert, but boy, did they deliver!
Drawing on from the full power of their catalog, they reached all the way back to One Day Remains; then spent a good bit of time on Blackbird, including the lengthy title track; hit my favorite from AB III, “Ghost Of Days Gone By”; and made deserved stops on Fortress, answering the written request to play “Cry Of Achilles.” Of course, given the nature of the tour, they wowed us with tracks from The Last Hero, opening their set with “The Writing Is On The Wall” and making room for “Show Me A Leader” during the encore. What astounded me most though, was the guitar duel between Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti, as I hadn’t witnessed a full-on solo battle live for years. I know I wasn’t the only one stunned by the ferocity of the playing, and everyone left that night feeling quite sated.
Don’t miss your opportunity to see either of these fine groups tear up a stage near you.
Sunday, January 22, 2017 is now a special day in the history of Atlanta. Not only will it be remembered as the day that the Atlanta Falcons football team clinched the NFC championship, gaining a birth to the Super Bowl, but it will also be remembered as the day that the hard rock band Alter Bridge returned to Atlanta during their “The Last Hero” tour of the US! Ok, honestly…I’m a Pittsburgh Steeler fan, so I’ll remember the day more for the Alter Bridge show!
I’ve been a fan of the band for quite some time, and it was my first chance to see them perform live, so expectations were high. After a short intro sound clip, the band made their way to the stage, acknowledging the crowd with smiles and waves. The band really does put all of their emphasis on the music. There was no bombastic stage show, no over the top theatrics, just four guys who causally walked out on stage and got to it.
Speaking of the music, Alter Bridge is touring to support their latest album The Last Hero, and in my opinion it’s probably the most well-done release in their catalog. The songs sound epic, with just the right mix of melody, crunch, hooks and substantive lyrical content. “The Writing on The Wall” from The Last Hero kicked off the show. Lead singer Myles Kennedy, guitarist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips wasted no time, digging in on the song’s head-bobbing intro.
“Come to Life” and “Addicted to Pain” completed the hard-hitting intro to the show, before slowing down just a little to perform the melodic “Ghosts of Days Gone By.” The band’s set list leaned heavily on their new release and 2007’s Blackbird, pulling five songs each. “Cry of Achilles” launched the show back into heavier territory, with Kennedy and Tremonti sharing both guitar and vocal duties. The tightly intertwined guitar lines between the two is one of Alter Bridges major strengths. The other major strength? Lead singer Myles Kennedy.
Not to take anything away from the rhythm section of this band – they are stellar – but lead singer Myles Kennedy is a force, and it’s easy to see why he’s one of the most sought after front-men in rock. He’s an excellent singer with great range, and oh, guess what, he’s an excellent guitar player as well! I did not know how much of their recorded music featured his guitar playing, but he kept up with the talented Tremonti riff by riff. The pretty acoustic ballad “Watch Over You” performed solo by Kennedy was also stellar, and turned into a sing-along by the Atlanta crowd.
Speaking of the crowd: way to go Atlanta! This was one of the most receptive and vocal crowds I’ve ever experienced. I guess since the show started only about an hour or so after the big football game, spirits were generally very high (and a little intoxicated), and that good feeling carried over into The Tabernacle. Fists and metal horns in the air, sing alongs and several extended rounds of applause between songs seemed to catch the band a little off guard. Hell, there was even an onstage marriage proposal!* Good times were definitely had by all.
Hit single “Isolation,” the emotional “Blackbird” and the very, very crunchy “Metalingus” brought the show to a close before the band returned to perform an encore of “Show Me a Leader” and probably their biggest rock radio hit to date, “Rise Today.”
Be sure to catch Alter Bridge on tour through May before they head for Europe this summer. Catch up with the band at their official website or on Facebook page.
The hammer strikes down dramatically, ringing deep and continuous. A piano, alone, carries a melody to our hungry ears. Within moments, it is joined by the light caress of cymbals and overdriven guitar. All of this, resinating with orchestral strings, leaves us feeling small among its immensity, but anxious as to what awaits. And thus is the start of Walking With Giant’s third offering, but first full length effort, entitled Worlds Unknown. This January 15 release finds frontman Gary Noon, and his studio team, firing on all cylinders.
For those that haven’t been made privy to that great secret which is Walking With Giants, allow me to spill the beans. This Baltimore-based entity is the brainchild of guitarist and vocalist, Gary Noon. With dreams of playing with his heroes, he reached out to Sevendust’s Clint Lowery, as well as Alter Bridge’s Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips, collectively composing two breathtaking EPs, Walking With Giants and One By One. Though Phillips had scheduling conflicts and was thus unable to perform on the team’s first full length album, Sevendust’s Morgan Rose has taken up the sticks without missing a beat.
While Noon and company continue to provide us with a buffet of irresistibly addictive hard rock tracks, the new release is different in that A) it’s longer, and B) it’s buttressed by two halves of the title track. In between the bookends entitled “Worlds Unknown” Parts 1 and 2, we are enveloped in a series of songs that overflow with positive energy! “Broken Truth” and “Back To Life” lift the spirit in tone alone, while hard-hitting powerhouses like “Bound” and “Heavy Hand,” despite dealing with personal struggle, shine through the darkness with words of determination and perseverance. Perhaps the first track that breaks from this mold for Walking With Giants is the tune entitled “Guilty One,” in which Noon struggles with the feeling of being at fault. It takes a strong person to take responsibility for their actions, but the important thing about this song is that though he is made to feel at fault, he never admits defeat. These uplifting lyrics are one of the defining points of Walking With Giants that continue to draw me in time and time again.
By the way, in case it seems that I overlooked it, Worlds Unknown is musically phenomenal. Noon and Lowery join forces once more to construct meatier riffs, larger hooks, and more badass guitar solos than ever before. And from the sheer brutality of “Bound” to the seemingly computerized opening of “The Now,” this album stays fresh. Marshall’s basslines dig in deep and route the direction of Noon and Lowery’s assault, with Rose’s percussive accompaniment fitting in superbly alongside this ensemble. And, my word, the vocal harmonies! Walking With Giants has its own characteristic layer of voices that sail away with the melodic breeze, robust yet soothing to the ear. Worlds Unknown is a stunning new addition to Walking With Giants’ growing catalog, and, to quote “Heavy Hand,” the time has come for the world to see…
Notes ring off the strings, echoing as if from reverberating bells. Thus is the beginning of Baltimore-based Walking With Giants’ new EP, One By One, set for release on June 21. This promising hard-rock act blew me out of the water last year with its debut, self-titled release. When I heard that a new offering was on the way I immediately contacted singer, songwriter and mastermind, Gary Noon, about the chance to share his musical vision with other like-minded rockers.
Walking With Giants features an all-star cast of musicians. Rejoining Noon once more for his journey is co-writer and guitarist, Sevendust’s Clint Lowery, who continues to produce for the team. Also returning to the fold is Alter Bridge and Creed drummer, Scott ‘Flip’ Phillips. But unlike the debut recording, which found bass duties rotated between Noon and Lowery, we are treated instead with the inclusion of Alter Bridge and Creed bassist, Brian Marshall, who brings a low-end previously unheard.
For those that enjoyed the flavor of the debut EP, you will not be disappointed in the present release. The opening track, “Find Your Way Back,” begins with a feeling of confidence indicative of someone who has already proven his or her worth. Notes ring off the strings, resting atop a powerful, rolling drum beat, courtesy of Flip, that carries the verse into a heightening chorus. If it’s one thing that Walking With Giants has going for it – and it’s not just one thing – it is the amazingly addictive choruses that find their way into each and every song. Noon and Lowery have a knack for writing choruses that catch the ear, but they aren’t slouches on the strings either. The guitar duo have littered the release with hard-hitting riffs and melodies, such as the introductions to “Chasing Light” and “Anything,” the latter housing enough meaty slabs to open up its own butcher shop.
Don’t worry! While there’s plenty of incredible riffage to savor, Noon and crew haven’t forgotten about those of you who long for a sweet respite. “Another Chance” is the somber song with a glimmer of hope that reminds me faintly of the mood found in “Wonderful Life” by Alter Bridge. With its wide-open chords, passionate vocals and swooping solo, it fills the heart with sympathy. I can certainly empathize with Noon, as he sings about trying to keep his mind from racing at the “What if’s” of life and love.
Walking With Giants is well on its way to building a tremendous library of work that is not only well-written, but inspiring as well. Like their debut EP, this latest release shows concern over the darker aspects of life and human character. Yet, there is always an optimistic eye on the horizon, which sees “the darkness fading” as stated in the closing track, “So Far.” This is one of the features that drew me so quickly to the music and has kept me enraptured. One By One is another milestone in this Walking With Giants’ career and one that will hopefully see it gaining some well-earned attention.
I won’t lie. It was the names that caught my interest. But, from the opening notes ringing out in my ears I knew that this would be worth every moment.
Gary Noon – vocalist, guitarist, bassist, and mastermind behind Walking With Giants – is living every fan’s dream: to play with his heroes. What originally began as a tribute to some of his favorite bands soon became something new entirely. After getting in touch through a mutual friend, Gary had the chance to not only become friends with Sevendust guitarist Clint Lowery and Alter Bridge/Creed drummer Scott Phillips, but to collaborate on a project as well. It’s no wonder the band is named Walking With Giants. But Noon is no stranger to playing with internationally acclaimed musicians, previously performing in a band called White Knuckles with Chad Szeliga of Breaking Benjamin and Robb Torres of Trapt.
Heavy, melodic, and reflective. Noon, Lowery, and Phillips have decided to tease our senses with this breakout self-titled EP, with Gary telling us “there’s more to come” in hisinterview with Broken Records Online.You can hear how Noon was inspired by the bands of the other two, though the songs feel more in the vein of Alter Bridge than Sevendust. Considering that I really enjoy both bands, this doesn’t bother me in the slightest. And while I like heavy rock songs, it’s really the groove the guys manage to instill in their music that makes it alluring. For instance, a track like “Answers” remind me of the short-lived group Sick Speed from Rich Ward (Fozzy/Stuck Mojo), as it shares the same groove-filled sensibilities and ariose tendencies, which I greatly admire. And speaking of melodies, co-writers Noon and Lowery have really nailed it here, not only in the guitar playing, but in the vocal delivery as well. The guitars convey the melodious theme between the verses, but then step back and let the vocals and chorus really take it the rest of the way – something other aspiring bands should take into consideration. I know I’m not the only one singing along in their car.
Lyrically, as I said, this release is reflective. It revolves around the theme of a life of struggles and mistakes. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. Noon writes in a very open way, allowing each track to come across emphatically to the listener. It’s as though he’s not just writing for himself, but speaking out for all of us. As the interview mentioned earlier reveals, the song “Perfect” wasn’t even written with himself in mind, but rather portrays a friend. And really, who doesn’t yearn for a picture-perfect life? We hope that, despite our trials, something wonderful awaits us after the tribulations. And that’s the thing shining through on this album. There’s a positivity in these lyrics that provides a hopeful feeling to those that listen. There’s always time to make a change for the better.
There’s no doubt that veterans Clint Lowery and Scott Phillips have taken Noon to a whole new level. Just watching theproduction videos, you can see how their inclusion has helped expand Gary’s musical horizon. But the core ideas, and the feeling behind them, are all Gary Noon. It’s his love of this music style that has resulted in such a phenomenal debut release, with all its guitar grooves and melodic tastiness. And it’s those features that he’ll keep in mind when he looks for touring musicians for this project, until the time when Lowery and Phillips are able to join him again for a full-length record. Walking With Giants has excited us with a marvelous start and I can’t wait to see where they’ll wind up next.