Alter Bridge Concert Review-The Marquee Theater Tempe AZ 03-29-23
Review and photos by Roc Boyum
Alter Bridge graced The Marquee Theater in Tempe, Arizona with a sold out show before a packed house of ravenous fans who showed up to support this great band.
Giving the fans a treat just for this tour, AB also brought with them two very special support acts; Mammoth WVH (featuring Wolfgang Van Halen) and Pistols at Dawn.
Pistols at Dawn:
Pistols at Dawn opened the evening’s festivities with a powerful set from their debut release Ascension. They opened their show with a blazing guitar solo that was seemingly coming out of thin air due to the fact the stage was completely dark – making the audience wonder if this was a lighting issue or an intentional artistic statement! In any case, the audience really wanted to see this guy shred, but the light didn’t come on until he was finished, leaving the audience wanting to see more – perhaps next time we’ll see him shred. The band’s set consisted of five songs that had a heavy hard rock feel and were packed full of high energy with a brutal grinding edge to them, but still maintaining a listener friendly vibe. Singer Chris Pierson continually engaged the audience throughout their show, while lead guitarist, Tommy Richardson played each song with an incendiary force. The rhythm section of drummer Adam Jaffe and bassist Billy Sullivan hammered out some bad-ass grooves that kept the whole Pistols at Dawn machine charging forward. If these guys aren’t on your radar yet, they soon will be as they are making some real positive noise that cannot be ignored. Get into PAD here!
Next up was the very special guest artist, Mammoth WVH, who are led by non other than Wolfgang Van Halen. Many people ask what inspired the band’s name and Wolfgang has stated that the name was inspired and derived from his father’s first band, Mammoth which eventually evolved into Van Halen. The Eddie Van Halen version of Mammoth had Eddie taking on a multi faceted role in the band including being the band’s original lead singer. So, from WVH thinking his father’s band Mammoth was “the coolest name” and the fact that he wanted to write, produce and record all the instruments himself, he felt the band had to be called Mammoth. Band names don’t always have a higher purpose, but WVH hit the nail on the head with Mammoth!
The band played a really tight and kick-ass forty five minute set of great hard rock which included music from their first and second albums and showcasing WVH singing lead, playing rhythm and lead guitar as well as keyboards; impressive indeed! After the fourth song in their set, WVH asked the audience, not once – but two times how they were doing! After the second request, WVH commented that they were the loudest audience so far on this tour: AZ is known for their enthusiastic responses! This was just the beginning of their show of appreciation for WVH!
For fhe fifth song in their set, WHV introduced the song by stating that “This is the first song we ever released; it’s called, “Distance”. This of course received a resounding roar from the audience.
At one point in the show, WVH told the audience…”one week ago today, we released our second LP which is a bit heavier” the audience loved that statement! He then said, “Another Celebration at the End of the World” is the first song we wrote for that LP; let’s do this thing!” At that point, drummer Garrett Whitlock started the song off by pounding out a brutal drumbeat that drove the song forward with his relentless attack. Midway or so into it, the band began slamming down pulses of single staccto whole notes that gave WVH the room to burn out aggressive hammer-on style riffs on the guitar that led into a screaming guitar solo – with the whole band driving out a grinding rhythm undercurrent. Yeah, this song was heavy with an aggressive edge that rocked the entire Marquee Theater! The band finished their set with, “Don’t Back Down” which ended a killer set by this great new band. If you like forceful and driving Hard Rock music by a great band of stellar musicians that showcases a multi-talented front-man that will give you one hell of a show; get out to see these guys now; youtube just doesn’t cut it!
Mammoth WVH set list from the stage:
It was now time for the band everyone was waiting for – Alter Bridge!!!
Before Alter Bridge entered the stage, the audience was heard chanting the band’s name repeatedly until the horizontal columns of lights at either side of the drum riser started flashing. With the stage lights flashing, the audience knew it was now moments before the band would arrive on stage, which quickly turned the chants into a roaring cheer of fervorous excitment in the anticipation of their arrival. The band entered onto the stage one by one as darkened silhouettes with the deafing sound of the crowd cheering and growing in intensity. Upon their arrival, the entire venue exploded as the band immediately fired into “Silver Tongue” from their 2022 release, Pawns & Kings. This is a song that encompasses everything an AB fan could want; with it’s powerful driving rhythms, singable choruses, bad-ass guitar riffs and a breakdown section that had everyone in the audience clapping and pumping their fists into the air; clearly “Silver Tounge” was the perfect opening statement that said….Oh yeah baby; AB has arrived!! Throughout the night we would come to find a recurring theme from the fans that demonstrated a seemingly overwhelming show of support for this beloved band. This relentless show of support by the audience at one point prompted singer Myles Kennedy to comment to the audience; “What’s going on here? This is unbelievable! You must’ve thought you came to see a concert by a different band, because we don’t normally get this kind of crowd reaction, thank you so, so much!!! ” This of course was like throwing gasoline onto a fire that incited a near deafening roar from the audience.
I must say, I know Arizona loves their live music but this was on a whole other level for sure! Many have said that AB could easily be playing larger venues, and while that’s quite true, the band has always stated that they enjoy playing the HOB sized venues best and understandably so! When a band plays in a more intimate setting like the Marquee Theater, the energy exchange between audience and band is so much more tangible and something you just don’t get in those larger venues. I totally get it, and applaud their decision, the thing is; you just need to get your tickets as soon as they go on sale and get to the venue really early, so you’re not left out!!!
During their second song “Addicted to Pain” from their highly successful 2013 release Fortress, Kennedy motioned to the audience to “bring it” for the band, and immediately, the screaming became outrageous as the fans dove in head first with another unprecedented roar of appreciation.
Not to be out-done, Mark Tremonti’s masterful guitar solo that followed was a shredder which electrified the entire audience who in turn gave him their own show of love with a sea of pumping fists!
AB slowed things down a bit from their high paced set to give the audience two acoustic songs, “Watch Over You” and “In Loving Memory” respectively. The first of these two acoustic songs was a solo performance by Kennedy that enjoyed an impassioned and chilling audience sing-a-long that was emotionally moving. For the song “In Loving Memory”, Kennedy was joined by guitarist Termonti for a sit down performance that displayed an audience participation that exceeded the expectations of the band and certaininly every expectation of anyone in attendance. It’s not easy to effectively go from slamming Hard Rock to acoustic and keep your audience engaged, but AB just absolutely killed it! Whether they’re unleashing an in-your-face musical assault or they’re coming from a more emotional softer place, these guys give their audiences the feeling that everyone attending the show is just part of one big happy family; how cool is that; about as cool as it gets!!!
Next up was “Blackbird” an eight and a half minute song in 6/8 that is the entire AB musical package all rolled into one song. This song has heavy riffs, pounding bass and drums, guitar solos by Kennedy and Tremonti and of course screaming bad-ass vocals by Kennedy, which is almost like an entire AB show in one song; pretty damn amazing!
The next four songs, “Come to Life”, “Pawns & Kings”, “Isolation” and “Metalingus” were all brilliant performances with great audience participation. “Metalingus” was the last song of their regular set and had a real fun audience interaction between Kennedy and the audience. Kennedy conducted an audience cheering competition between the different opposite sides of the venue; which is alway great fun indeed!
The two encore songs, “Open Your Eyes” and “Rise Today” made for an incredible end to an incredible concert! “Rise Today” finishes in the grand style of rock and roll with shredding guitar runs up and down the neck by Tremonti, heavy power chords by Kennedy, drum flurries by Scott Phillips (which had him attacking every piece of his drum kit) and bassist Brian Marshall thumping out some chest pounding rhythms that made this the perfect grand finale to an amazing concert.
The band sounded absolutely fantastic on this evening with singer Kennedy singing so damn good, it’s no wonder that the consensus amongst fans and reviewers is that Kennedy is one of the very best vocalists in the biz. Everyone in the band is a top notch player that gives their audiences 110% non-stop! On this night, the band played songs from five of their seven studio releases with a set that was nearly two hours long. The only LPs omitted from the show were, The Last hero and Walk the Sky but the fans didn’t care one bit! This is definitely a show to remember and a show that every Hard Rock fan can not afford to miss out on. Get into Alter Bridge, and get into this tour; if you can…..NOW!
Check out Alter Bridge here!
Alter Bridge Set List From The Stage: