On a cold and wet December night, while many people are hitting the Christmas markets for a fill of festive cheer, there’s a large group of people lining up outside Manchester Arena. The reason for this is the long-awaited Alter Bridge and Shinedown tour is here and there’s no better way to spend your Sunday night than this. With both bands being well known for putting on outstanding performances, it was sure to be a good night.
Following on from the unfortunate pull out of Seven Dust from this leg of the tour, The Raven Age stepped into the support slot. While the area was only half full at this point, the band made sure to put their all into the performance and the energy provided by frontman Matt James, got the crowd pumped up. With a tribute to Sevendust’s Morgan Rose, with “The Face That Launched A Thousand Ships”, the band were clearly very grateful to be able to stand in and enjoying every second on the stage.
When the time came for Shinedown to hit the stage, the arena had well and truly filled out. An opening track led the band to the stage in the style of being welcomed to the circus and the sense of excitement to see the band rose. Kicking off with “Devil” and “Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay, Boom-Lay Boom)” the crowd was filled with energy knowing it was going to be a great performance by this band. Before going any further, frontman Brent Smith jumped into the crowd after splitting them down the centre to create a walkway to address the fans at the back of the arena. For everyone in the seats, it was time to get to their feet and not for the last time this night for “Enemies”. For a second treat that night, Smith once again got the room on their feet and lights in the air as other than a couple of stage lights the arena was lit up by phone lights for “Get Up”. The set all the way through was just packed full of memorable moments that are the perfect example of what makes a Shinedown show so exciting. With the moving tracks of “Second Chance” and cover of “Simple Man”, the set was almost over. It was time again for everyone to be on their feet for the classic which is “Sound of Madness” before the band decided to take a special moment with these Manchester fans. Having previously made an acknowledgement of the history of the arena with the bombings, the band decided to pay tribute to the fans and the city with a rendition of “Don’t Look Back In Anger” sung by Zach Myers with the crowd taking over the chorus. It was one of those moments in time where you feel one with a room full of strangers and a sense of pride about your city.
Closing their time on stage with “Brilliant”, that’s exactly what these guys were tonight – completely and utterly Brilliant!!!
As the set cleared away from Shinedowns set and the large split screens were brought into sight, a new wave of excitement carried through the crowd. Those gaps in the crowd that had been visible before had now disappeared, as Alter Bridge prepared to take over. The lights went down and “One Life” played over the sound system as Myles Kennedy and his band took to the stage. From the moment the band started playing, the crowd was putty in this bands hands. As loud as ever, the crowd sang along and enjoyed every moment of this bands set. By the third song “Come to Life”, there was a few crowds surfing attempts but more so the age-old sight of people on shoulders, desperate for a chance to see this band play. With the chance to win Mark Tremonti’s guitar, the crowd became even wilder as they tried to stand out and catch Tremonti’s eye to win the prize. Even once a winner was chosen though, the fans just continued to rock out and have the best time
As for the band’s performance, once again they proved they are at the top of their game. The sound was outstanding and every note was played in perfection. Kennedy’s vocals were nothing less than incredible and his signature tone, was clearly heard throughout. As they stormed through tracks such as “Rise Today” and “Cry of Achilles”, there was something for every fan, old and new. With the crowd getting louder and louder throughout the night, by the time the last song before the encore with “Metalingus” was played, the crowd and the band were in full swing. The encore itself was something special though with “Godspeed” off the new album and the forever favourite with “Addicted to Pain” it was the right way to end an epic show.
Review: Emmie Ellis
Photography: Mark Ellis