Alter Bridge @ Southampton Guildhall 23rd October

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After a two year absence from the UK, the return of Alter Bridge to the Southampton Guildhall was clearly long awaited by the South coast’s metal fans; with the venue packed and an eager anticipation from the moment doors opened.

With a breath-taking 22 song set, followed by a four song acoustic encore, fans were not disappointed, with material from the bands new album AB III interspersed with classics from One Day Remains and Blackbird.

Particular highlights had to be the emotive acoustic set and in particular ‘Watch Over You’ which, in lead Myles Kennedy’s own words ”is about the realisation, that you really can’t help someone who refuses to help themselves”, in regards to addiction.

Musically, after a tentative start vocally, the band cannot be faulted for their live set. Although a few notes were missed (which is arguably to be expected in a two hour set), the entire performance passed nearly without fault. Kennedy’s incredible vocals matched his recorded sound and Mark Tremonti’s guitar playing measuring up to the high standards expected of such a renowned guitarist. Similarly the rhythm section of bass and drums gave a powerhouse performance providing unity and structure to the set. The addition of a second guitarist mid-way through added to the intensity and momentum of the gig. Likewise the engagement of the band with it’s audience and an incredible and varied light show that frequently swept across the crowd, led to an atmosphere that complimented the exceptional performance taking place.

Whilst some chose to mosh in the centre area, most fans stood, sang along and appreciated the music; often a sign of a genuinely engaging performance.

Conclusively, Alter Bridge gave a performance truly reconciling their two year absence with the new album (which is out in November) showing promising material.

In fact, my only criticism of the evening would be directed at support act Slaves to Gravity who, although clearly very talented musicians, failed to offer anything other than the expected throughout their twenty minute set. Overall their performance was characterised by cliched lyrics and underwhelming compositions. Either this, or they decisively paled in comparison to Alter Bridge, who resoundingly stole the show.

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