Live Reviews

Alter Bridge @ Underworld, London

18 September 2007


Ah, the surge and scourge of modern technology.

Imagine a band, three-quarters of whom sold more than 30 million records in a previous life.

They decide to play a special show at a gloriously intimate (if you have a ticket) / hideously undersized (if you don’t) venue. Their plan is to whet fans’ collective appetite for their forthcoming second album.

As they play the new songs, they want to see the looks on people’s faces, discern which songs will become future live favourites, heck, maybe even experiment a little without anyone noticing. They start to play and then…

… Everyone sings along.

That’s the good ole internet for you. But Tim Berners-Lee’s creation is merely the distribution network, the messenger that doesn’t deserve shooting, for it’s the gaggle of people who record the gig on their 5-in-1 phone/MP3/camera/video/social-skills-destroyer and then upload the results who are really responsible for disarming a band of the element of surprise.

Of course, that’s one side of the story. The other is that there is a buzz surrounding the release of Blackbird by Alter Bridge precisely because fans have heard what they liked and liked what they heard.

It certainly prevented tonight’s gig from going the way of many a new album showpiece, namely crowd silence during the newies, polite applause at the end and then carnage when any scraps of old, familiar tunes are thrown out.

Instead, Camden’s Underworld is an all-singing, all-chanting, all-panting mass of appreciation from the first chord of Come To Life to the last note of AC/DC‘s party shaker Whole Lotta Rosie.

But then, file sharing or no file sharing, YouBook, MyTube or FaceSpace, if the songs are this good, there’s never going to be a problem rousing a rabble in a live setting.

That Find The Real, Broken Wings, Metalingus and One Day Remains kick seven shades of the proverbial out of most hard rock bands’ best moments is a given, but the versatility on offer in the hefty riffage of Buried Alive, the anthemy of new single Rise Today and the epic and – cliché alert – soaring Blackbird, amply demonstrates that Alter Bridge are going to have a job on their hands deciding which songs not to play when they return to these shores next year.

Add on to this the fact that Myles Kennedy is such an engaging frontman – whether when showcasing his remarkable vocal talents on a cover of Robert Johnson‘s Travelling Riverside Blues; naming and thanking fan-run tribute web-sites; or working out that a punter who shouts for the band to play Norwich next time means a provincial English town he’s never heard of rather than a song he’s never heard of – and you have all the elements required for one big rock ‘n’ roll love-in.

And we didn’t mention Creed once…


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More on Alter Bridge
Alter Bridge – Blackbird
Alter Bridge @ Underworld, London
Interview – Alter Bridge
Interview – Alter Bridge
Alter Bridge + Switchfoot @ ULU, London