CONCERT REVIEW : ALTER BRIDGE ROCKS EDINBURGH: AN EPIC NIGHT OF MUSIC AND MAYHEM AT O2 ACADEMY! 6TH JUNE 2023

ALTER BRIDGE

The O2 Academy Edinburgh 6th June 2023

With support from MAMMOTH WVH

Florida-based rock quartet Alter Bridge is currently on the road for their “Pawns & Kings” tour, promoting their most recent album of the same name. They stopped in Edinburgh on Tuesday night for a sold-out show at the O2 Academy. With the addition of Mammoth WVH as the supporting act, fans were sure to be in for a night of heavy-hitting, guitar-driven hard rock.

Kicking off the concert at 8 pm sharp was Mammoth WVH, a five-piece band fronted by Wolfgang Van Halen – yes indeed, none other than the son of the legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen. Mammoth WVH originally began as a solo project, and as such, Wolfgang is the sole musician credited on their self-titled debut album. He has since recruited an impressive group of musicians to round out the band’s lineup, including Frank Sidoris and Jon Jourdan on guitar and backing vocals, Ronnie Ficarro on bass and backing vocals, and Garret Whitlock on the drums. Sidoris and Whitlock have played in Slash and Mark Tremonti’s solo projects respectively, so you know these guys bring a lot of talent and experience to the table.

Mammoth WVH’s nine song opening set consisted entirely of material from their self-titled debut album – no Van Halen covers to be found here. Wolfgang is intent on forging his own musical path, as opposed to coasting off his father’s legacy, and he’s more than capable of doing so. It should come as no surprise to anyone that the son of such a renowned musician would have a high level of musical prowess, but Wolfgang is already proving himself to be a potential generational talent as both a multi-instrumentalist and a songwriter. Some of the set highlights included the opening track “Mammoth”, which featured some heavy guitar riffs, and some pounding halftime grooves by Whitlock on the drums.

Wolfgang also had several opportunities throughout the set to display his stellar guitar playing, including a solo in “Mr. Ed” that ended with a blazing flurry of tapped notes, and a solo in “Distance” that showcased his tremolo picking. Upon the conclusion of the set, the band members all came together at the front of the stage for a quick bow, with Wolfgang expressing his sincere gratitude for the support, and promising a return in the near future. It’s incredibly likely they’ll have a much larger fan base here the next time they swing through town.

SET LIST:

Mammoth, Mr.Ed, Epiphany, Like A Pastime, Stone, Distance, You’re To Blame, Another Celebration, Don’t Back Down.

 

The house lights dimmed once again, and the crowd roared with excitement as the highly-anticipated headliner Alter Bridge took to the stage. Guitarist Mark Tremonti immediately launched into the opening guitar riff from their recent single “Silver Tongue”, joined soon after by bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips. This incredible rhythm section trio has been playing together for almost three decades, and it’s immediately apparent they’ve developed quite the chemistry over the years. It would take a truly exceptional vocalist to front this group, and fortunately, Myles Kennedy is exactly that. His powerful soaring vocals suit the music perfectly and present a compelling case for why many consider him among the best rock vocalists in the game today. Not to mention, he’s also quite the accomplished guitarist himself. For the second song, the band picked up the energy even more with the relentless double-time grooves of “Addicted to Pain”, from the Fortress album. This was then followed by a slightly more mellow track, “Ghost of Days Gone By”, which featured Kennedy hitting some impressive high sustained notes while belting out the lyrics “I don’t wanna die” about two-thirds of the way through. The audience was loving every minute of it, and the band seemed to be enjoying themselves up there as well.

Although Tremonti is often included near the top of the “best of” guitar lists, he still somehow feels underrated. His playing throughout the night displayed a high level of musicality and technical ability, but still never felt like it got too showy. On top of his phenomenal guitar playing, Tremonti also got to showcase his singing, as he took over the lead vocal duties on the classic Alter Bridge song “Burn It Down”, as well as on “Stay”, a new song from Pawns & Kings. On a semi-related note, if you

want to hear Tremonti sing something completely different, he released an album of Frank Sinatra covers last year, and what do you know, the man sounds great singing jazz and swing as well.

At about the midpoint of the set, the band stripped things down, and Kennedy performed a heartfelt solo acoustic rendition of “Watch Over You” while the other members took a quick break offstage. The audience was singing along so loudly that Kennedy let them take over completely for the song’s final chorus. He was then joined by Tremonti, and the duo acoustically performed “In Loving Memory”, a beautiful song that Tremonti wrote in honour of his mother. Hearing these softer songs right after the many hard rock bangers that preceded them demonstrated the songwriting strengths and versatility of the band. Kennedy also took the time to show his appreciation for all the love and support the band had received over the years.

With the acoustic component of the show wrapped, Marshall and Phillips returned to the stage, and the band picked up right where they had left off. They kicked things into high gear again with some more big rock tunes, both new and old, including “Blackbird” and “Pawns & Kings”. The penultimate song of the set was fan favourite “Isolation”, from ABIII, which featured some of Tremonti’s best riffing of the night, as well as a tasteful guitar solo by Kennedy. They then finished with “Metalingus”, which saw the band have a little fun during an instrumental vamp section – Kennedy essentially led the audience as a conductor leads an orchestra, and queued cheers of different dynamic levels from the different sections. Once the song concluded, the band members waved to the crowd and exited the stage. Naturally, everyone knows a rock show isn’t complete without the requisite encore, and after a couple of minutes, Alter Bridge returned to thunderous applause to play the classics “Open Your Eyes” which Kennedy let the audience sing the vocal parts, which they did with great energy and enthusiasm.

Overall, it was a fantastic night of music by some of the best musicians in the modern rock scene. Alter Bridge and Mammoth WVH are both incredibly solid bands, and each one provided a spectacular set of tunes that got heads banging and adrenaline pumping. Both bands also did an exceptional job of maintaining a balance between catchy songwriting and technical virtuosity. Alter Bridge just announced another run of American dates on the current tour, so they certainly show no signs of slowing down any time soon. It also won’t be long before the rising stars of Mammoth WVH are headlining their own large tours, so if you’re a rock music fan, do not miss your chance to catch this absolutely stacked double bill.

SET LIST:

Silver Tongue, Addicted To Pain, Ghost Of Days, Holiday, Broken Wings, Coeur D’Alene, Burn It Down, Cry Of Achilles, Watch Over You, In Loving Memory, Blackbird, Come To Life, Stay, Isolation, Metalingus, Open Your Eyes.

 

Review & Photographs by Stuart Stott

Author: Stuart Stott

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