Hard rockers Alter Bridge kicked Mother Nature in the face on Thursday night, putting on a nearly two hour performance at New York City’s Playstation Theater just a few hours after the tri-state area was belted by a blizzard that dumped a foot of snow on the city and sent areas north and east into a state of emergency. Despite the terrible weather and high winds that plagued the city on show day, Alter Bridge went on with the show in front of what turned out to be a near-capacity crowd, with only a few empty seats in the back rows of the usually-closed seats.
I’ve said it every time I’ve discussed Alter Bridge in any type of editorial piece, and it’s no secret that when the band first formed in the aftermath of the nasty Creed breakup, I didn’t really give them much of a chance because frontman extraordinaire Myles Kennedy was not Scott Stapp, and AB wasn’t Creed. Then Kennedy hooked up with Slash and changed my life, allowing me to go back to Alter Bridge with a new appreciation for just how good Kennedy is on vocals and how he helped Mark Tremonti, Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips go from the afterglow of Creed to the spotlight of being one of the most popular bands on the planet over the last 13 years. This night was just my second time seeing Alter Bridge – you can read about the first here – and my first seeing them headline, and both times they’ve reminded me of just how stupid I was all those years ago.
So, while the other NYC show scheduled for Thursday night – southern rockers Whiskey Myers – canceled due to the weather, Alter Bridge was here to kick ass and warm everyone up. And kick ass they did, right from the opening notes of The Writing on the Wall all the way through the closing notes of Rise Today. While Alter Bridge are on tour supporting their new album, 2016’s The Last Hero, there were only 4 songs off the album featured at this show, including album’s first single Show Me A Leader and my favorite song off the new one, My Champion. Also on offer was the album’s title track The Last Hero, in addition to the show’s opener. I would have loved to hear Poison in Your Veins and You Will Be Remembered live, but that’ll have to wait until another time.
I do need to say that finally hearing Ghost of Days Gone By from AB III was pretty incredible. It’s one of my favorite songs – by any band – and sounds so much better live. Of course, it’s a great song to sing along with, too, and I did. Not very well, but that’s why I live my life behind a camera and leave the professional singing to the guys on stage. In addition to Ghosts, finally getting to hear Metalingus from the band’s debut album One Day Remains indoors with acoustics that aren’t drowned out by the abyss surrounding Jones Beach Theater where I first saw Alter Bridge last summer was great. I love the song, but something about hearing it live for the first time outdoors didn’t do the song justice. There was of course some level of disappointment on my end, because despite playing four songs off Fortress – Addicted to Pain, Cry of Achilles, Farther Than the Sun and Waters Rising, I have yet to hear my two favorite songs off the album – All Ends Well and Fortress – live, as well as I have yet to hear Fallout from AB III live. That’s three of my favorite Alter Bridge songs that I have not heard live either time I’ve seen them, which of course is all the justification I need for seeing them again – maybe in Jersey in May?
Also noticeably absent from the setlist was the dueling guitar solo during the encore that had been floating around various dates on this tour, including the Boston show two nights earlier and the show down at The Fillmore Silver Spring in Baltimore the night after. That would be have something special to witness, because both Tremonti and Kennedy can flat out shred, and while Tremonti is one of the best guitarists on earth, Slash thinks Myles is a better guitarist than even him, which says a lot about the guy’s talent. Seeing those two battle it out on stage would have been incredible, but it wasn’t on tap for the NYC show.
Regardless of the personal disappointment of not hearing three of my favorite AB songs and not getting to see a killer guitar solo, Alter Bridge made the three hours spent shoveling my car out to get to the show well worth it, delivering an 18 song barrage of ass kicking hard rock that also including an acoustic performance by Myles solo. That song would be Watch Over You, which was originally recorded with Lacuna Coil’s Cristina Scabbia. It’s obviously not the same without the killer voice of the Italian metal vixen complimenting Kennedy’s raspy vocals, but it was quite well done and a nice way to slow the whole thing down a bit before jumping right back into the hard hitting rock with Isolation.
When all was said and done, nearly two hours and 18 songs after it began, and after the damn-near-capacity crowd had erupted at the opening of every song, Alter Bridge had put on a performance worthy of schlepping through a foot of snow to get to. The harsh reality is that if the show truly must go on, as they say, in blizzard conditions, the main attraction cannot disappoint. Alter Bridge did not, and instead delivered a pulse-pounding performance for the masses who made the journey, some from out of state, to see their favorite band. I said it before, but I’ll keep seeing Alter Bridge, even after they do eventually play my favorite songs.
There are only a half dozen shows remaining on this one before the band heads to Australia and eventually Europe, so catch them while you can. Every show Alter Bridge puts on is well worth the price of admission. Check out the full setlist and photo gallery below.
Alter Bridge setlist:
The Writing on the Wall
Come to Life
Farther Than the Sun
Addicted to Pain
Ghost of Days Gone By
Cry of Achilles
Ties That Bind
The Last Hero
Watch Over You
Open Your Eyes
Show Me a Leader