On a cool fall-like evening at the historic halls of The Rave in Milwaukee, WI melodic hard rock giants Alter Bridge stopped to perform at one of their final stops of their Pawns & Kings tour. Outside the venue, the parking lot was packed full of people enjoying their evenings. Vehicles playing music and folks hanging out together. The line to enter had already grown and stretched down the block an hour before the doors opened. The anticipation for the performance was at a fever pitch. The chatter surrounding the show was about which songs were to be played. Regardless, this fan base was well in tune with the discography and were no doubt members of Alter Bridge Blackbird fan club. The foursome of vocalist Myles Kennedy, guitarist Mark Tremonti, Bassist Brian Marshall, and drummer Scott Phillips created an undying fanbase and would have to live up to their high standards.
As the doors opened the rush through the venue brought everyone out into the front courtyard that provided a spot for beverages and a couple of food options. Others stood by the front fence and had their photos taken with The Rave’s sign with Alter Bridge listed on it. The bustling courtyard leads you through the famed heavy doors and upstairs to the Eagles Ballroom. Moving up the stairs, the 3rd floor opens up to the merchandise area. The lines filled the room. Behind it was the final set of stairs that opened up into the massive Eagles Ballroom. The Eagles Ballroom had the half room set up. This setup allows the sizing to drop from 3,500 capacity to 2,500 comfortably creating a more intimate evening. This was an upgrade from The Rave Hall below. The stage sits in the middle of the ballroom. Metal barricades split the room and wrap around the Eagles stage which lies off to the right. Up on the actual Eagles Ballroom stage was the VIP seating area. This was a rare opportunity to be on stage while not really being “on stage”. The one thing it did provide is an elevated and unobstructed view and tabled seating. Above the general admission floor space were the balcony opera booths that wrap around the entire venue. No matter where you were standing the views were clean and you had the ability to watch without issues.
As the show opens, Alter Bridge one-by-one takes the stage. Arms raised, hands waving, and plenty of “Thank You’s” being thrown out there. The intro to Silver Tongue kicks in and the immediate impact of the fast tempo had the adrenaline rushing instantly. Frontman Myles Kennedy’s vocals were perfection. They were full and projected easily out over the room. They complimented the newer music brilliantly. The track from their latest release Pawns & Kings set the tone for what was to be an incredible performance. Nearly, every song performed was admirable in its own unique way. Others really stood out over the others though. The set up of the first three songs performed Silver Tongue, Addicted To Pain, and Ghost of Days Gone By couldn’t have been better table setters. No commentary in between each of them. Just a purely driven rock show. Burn It Down had Tremonti on vocals by himself. With his solo project being him vocally this was a site to see considering how gifted their frontman is. He ripped riffs along the way and vocally performed to superb levels. A special treat to those who are fans of both works.
Smack dab in the middle of the evening a two-song acoustic spot was set up. Center stage Kennedy sat on a stool by himself armed with only his acoustic and all 9 white backlights focused on him. Floods lightly focused out over the audience and illuminated the golden trim of the famed ballroom ceiling and balcony seating. A simple request of the fans to sing along turned into the echoes of the heartfelt lyrics that eventually drowned out Kennedy’s voice. His face displayed an impressed look. Signaling for guitarist Mark Tremonti to join him, they both sit center stage. Tremonti starting the intro to In Loving Memory Kennedy stood up with a microphone in one hand and his microphone stand in the other leaning into it and singing his heart out. The effect pushed the lyrical content further into one’s mind. While living in that moment the euphoric feeling took over. The light singing projecting back towards the stage grew the monumentous moment. The chain reaction was a common thread until the evening’s end. The strength of the material was felt.
Alter Bridge had no problems and held everyone’s attention captive. The sound mix was top notch and the lighting hit every single mood being displayed. None more noticeable than on a freshly added song to the setlist. Kennedy asks, “How many have heard the new record?” A large applause filled the air he replied with a simple “Thank you”. He continued on with “We added a new song to set a few weeks back”. He additionally called it extremely challenging to play live. The front screamed with Kennedy then laughed and said “Yay! Challenging. It is a long one so be ready”. That song was the anthemic Fable of The Silent Son. The entire venue became bathed in red and slowly into green from above. The crowd clapped within the small breaks. Arms filled the air and fists pumped during the slow-paced build. When the solo hits Kennedy and Marshall stand off the the left. They stood with their eyes closed. Feeling the music flow through them. Their heads held high and leaning back sensing its spirited intent radiate from the stage. Tremonti rips the rest of the solo on the very edge of the stage engaging with the crowd in front of him. As he leads into the outro the stage goes black. This rendition of what is sure to be Alter Bridges’ next big hit was the first inkling of what was to come. The tracks they selected to perform here on out were absolute fan favorites. Isolation and Open Your Eyes stood as huge hits within these radio markets and are still spun often today. The audience was beyond ready to sing and it showed.
As the show progressed, the drum solo intro to Metalingus gave a single spotlight on Drummer Scott Phillips while Myles Kennedy introduced the band without his guitar and just a lone mic stand standing in front of him. The song kicks in with Tremonti wahing the hell out of the opening riff all the way through to the chorus. Kennedy moves around the stage pointing and waving to everyone. Occasionally leaning and singing to those in front rows. Tremonti and Marshall stood next to each other pushing their tempo and engaging in friendly play back and forth. The two guided the song into a partial break with Phillips on his kit keeping the beat going. Kennedy stood out front with a hand to his ear. Pointing to different sections of the room asking them to scream. One by one they all screamed. The balcony or the floor it didn’t matter. He had full command of the room. The arms raised moved fluidly with every command. He created a small wave inside the half-ballroom. The crowd then became deafening as the band kicked back into the verse. The floor moved and swayed with glee. The balcony had bodies dancing and moving. Unforgettable is the only way to describe what one was witnessing. At the end, Kennedy sang the outro and raised his hand as before. The room’s lighting illuminated and the fired-up audience erupted again on command. Metal hand signals filled the ballroom’s air. Hands clapped and waved. The energy over the captive space was electric. The ballroom’s lights rose slowly more and the band stood tall signaling thank you. They threw out guitar picks and drumsticks before they walked off stage together smiling at their handy work. The lone sound left from the stage was the feedback of Tremonti’s guitar leaning against his cab.
As they emerged for the lone encore. The crowd clapped in unison with the beat leading into an almost twangy rendition of Rise Today. The melody pushed the jubilation even further. No one wanted the night to close. Alter Bridge closed with their instruments held up in the air after Tremonti went into the freestyle wailing of a breakdown finale. With their strength as a unit and stamina as performers pushed to the limits, the Florida-based rockers put their heart and soul into their performance. The delighted faces leaving the floor proved the Alter Bridge was at the top of their game. The families enjoying their night out were gleeful. The future of rock witnessed something of brilliance and upper-level talents. With 9 of their 15-song set coming from their first two albums, Alter Bridge gave long-time fans an opportunity to enjoy the songs that made the band what they are today. The compassionate disposition they displayed throughout was just the maturity they’ve gained and the nature of their professionalism. The extraordinary evening was something not to have been missed. No one leaving that night will forget it. With 7 studio albums under their belt, it feels like they are just getting started. The material is evolving and stronger than ever. Their live show is an ideal example of the growth at hand. The performance was impeccable. Safe to say they are not to be missed. There is no wonder why they are held to the status of iconic by many of their peers.
1. Silver Tongue
2. Addicted To Pain
3. Ghost of Days Gone By
4. Broken Wings
5. Burn It Down
7. Watch Over You
8. In Loving Memory
10. Come To Life
11. Fable of The Silent Son
13. Open Your Eyes
15. Rise Today