After selling out shows in Dublin and Belfast back in June, such was the demand for tickets from local rockers, Alter Bridge returned to Belfast on Sunday night to play a welcome second show as part of The Last Hero Tour.
In contrast, it was opening act As Lions first ever visit to Belfast and, having heard their debut album Selfish Age a lively performance was anticipated. True to their growing reputation they cajoled the crowed, threw their guitars about a bit, struck all the rock star poses all while playing some decent tunes, the only real let up in energy levels came in the form of ballad ‘World on Fire’. Other set highlights included ‘Bury My Dead’ and ‘Aftermath’. It should have come as no surprise these guys really know how to put on a show, with three ex-Rise To Remain members among their ranks including vocalist Austin Dickinson, son of legendary Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson. The only niggle; there was just a bit too much talking between songs which cut down the music content in their short set.
With the house lights down, intro music echoed around the walls of the historic hall, the Alter bridge band members unassumingly made their way onto the stage, and stood – waiting for the lights to go up, the intro music to fade and ready to rip into opener ‘Addicted to Pain’.
From the get-go the crowd were bouncing, having a grand ol’ singalong and ready to rock, as messers Kennedy, Tremonti, Marshall and Philips played through a slew of big hitters from their first four albums, in fact they only paid lip service to their latest album The Last Hero in the bombastic form of ‘The Other Side’, ‘My Champion’ and then towards the end of the set they let loose on ‘Show Me A Leader’.
Keeping things interesting ‘Coeur D’Alene’ was a nice addition to proceedings, as well as acoustic renditions of ‘Wonderful Life’ and ‘Watch Over You’ which saw lighters and cell phones emanate a sea of tiny lights over the crowd. For just shy of 2 hours the guys genuinely rocked the hall, they looked relaxed, completely comfortable in all they were doing and took time to thank both local and travelling fans for unwavering support.
Vocalist Myles Kennedy showed he had some serious chops on guitar both during the main set and the obligatory encore guitar duel with Mark Tremonti. I must confess though, while I have listened to Alter Bridge records for some time, it took me to see them live to realize just how big a force Brian Marshall is on bass guitar. His is the sound that binds the whole machine together, it complements the rhythm of drummer Scott Phillips, challenges the guitar riffs to be technically superb and gives a steady platform for the solos & vocals to soar.
As the final distorted, feedback ridden notes of ‘Rise Today’ rang out and the selfie stalkers headed out to do their thing at the stage doors, it occurred to me how truly spoilt we have been in Belfast and Dublin. It took them a good few years to finally play here, but Ireland has averaged 4 gigs in 4 months, not bad a way to make up for lost time. By all accounts Alter Bridge are a band on top form and all who have yet to see them on their current European stint are in for a rock n’ roll treat.
The Last Hero Tour continues:
Oct. 10 – Paris, France – Elysee Montmartre
Oct. 11 – Groningen, Netherlands – Oosterpoort
Oct. 12 – Stuttgart, Germany – Porsche Arena
Oct. 15 – Hannover, Germany – Swiss Life Hall
Oct. 16 – Oberhausen, Germany – Turbinenhalle
Oct. 18 – Vienna, Austria – Gasometer
Oct. 20 – Warsaw, Poland – Progresja
Oct. 22 – Budapest, Hungary – Sport Arena
Oct. 24 – Zurich, Switzerland – Samsung Hall
Oct. 26 – Barcelona, Spain – Razzmatazz 1
Oct. 27 – Madrid, Spain – La Riviera
Oct. 29 – Lisbon, Portugal – Coliseu