It was just a week ago that Switchfoot headlined in London with a scorching performance that will live long in the memory. One song in tonight, however, and that week feels like a lifetime for things are looking worrying for the San Diegan quintet.
The decidedly heavy rock crowd, here for main act Alter Bridge, looks bemused at the melodic pop/rock hybrid that has just been presented them. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that Alter Bridge consist of three-quarters of Creed, and that Creed fans are (probably) a heck of a lot more polite than most, they’d doubtless be shouting obscenities by now. Instead the unconvinced sup their beer, shrug their shoulders and murmur to their mates.
Fast forward 40 minutes and Switchfoot singer Jon Foreman is hanging from a beam on the ceiling, getting the whole crowd to echo back, “We were Meant To Live!” before exiting to the kind of thunderous applause rarely seen for an opening band. So what the heck happened?
Well nothing except a band having the confidence to do its own thing and the balls to get the crowd clapping along as early as its second song! Of course, having some killer songs and choruses in one’s repertoire helps, but all in all this was an example of how a band from one genre can win over the fans of another through a bold live show. Very impressive.
As were Alter Bridge. Having sold 30 million albums with Creed, Mark Tremonti, Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips seem to be getting a buzz playing small venues again, particularly now that they have a lead singer – the charismatic and Musketeer lookalike, Myles Kennedy – who they obviously get on with.
Kennedy is on fine form tonight, showing himself to be a vocalist of great range and dynamics. The band as a whole are similarly versatile; pumping up the moshpit with some stonking riffs in the heavier-than-thou Find The Real, Metalingus and Watch Your Words, causing lighters to get waved in the air during the acoustic, sat-on-stools In Loving Memory, and performing mid-paced, anthemic rockers that, yes, Creed would have been proud of, such as Open Your Eyes.
Throughout, the band appear genuinely surprised that so many people know every single word to the songs (their debut album isn’t out in the UK till three days later), but from the regular cheers for Mark Tremonti and general looks of “how on earth did he do that?” amazement at his guitar prowess, it’s clear that Alter Bridge would have had to have written some pretty terrible songs for their devoted fans to have not memorised them.
Of course, the opposite is true. Alter Bridge’s debut is full of sparkling songs and tonight’s gig demonstrates that these songs gain stature in the live setting. Some may have thought that Tremonti & co would have a mountain to climb in shaking off the ghost of their old band, but if they carry on like this, they’ll be laughing all the way to a host of new platinum records. And rightly so.