Alter Bridge – “Live At Wembley”

“Criminally underrated rockers prepare their biggest release to date, proving that in       today’s industry…a little perseverance goes a long way.”

by Tango Sho’Nuff

Some bands are simply unclassifiable.

In the eyes of record label execs and other industry big-wigs, this is by no means a positive thing.  A label has to know how and where to market it’s acts, so when a label is faced with the task of classifying an artist that simply does not fit into any specific genre, the results can be a bit underwhelming to say the least.  However, in the case of modern rockers Alter Bridge, unclassifiable would be a massive understatement.  Since forming in 2004, Alter Bridge have defied all logic in terms of how a band’s success is measured in today’s wacky music industry.  With almost every one of the band’s releases being subsequently sabotaged by lackluster promotion, release date delays, and other label issues, Alter Bridge have soldiered forward with the help of their extremely devoted fan base, a rabid die-hard following that in the past 5 years has grown exponentially in the UK.

Live at Wembley is the ultimate representation of what makes Alter Bridge the dark horse favorite of today’s rock scene and is guaranteed to please every single one of their loyal fans.  While being an extremely well shot documentation of the band’s biggest and most gloriously executed live performance to date, Live at Wembley doubles as a Greatest Hits of sorts.  The included performance DVD features a nice balance of songs from each of the band’s 3 studio albums: 5 tracks off of their 2004 debut “ONE DAY REMAINS”, 9 tracks from 2007’s “BLACKBIRD” and 7 tracks from their most recent release 2010’s “ABIII” for a total of 21 songs (14 of which are included on a bonus CD).  You also get an additional DVD consisting of an hour long documentary and expansive photo gallery, making this the most comprehensive collection the band has released yet.

As far as the uninitiated are concerned, this collection is guaranteed to win over just about every breed of rock music fan under the sun.  The live performance included is  absolutely breathtaking to witness.  Musically speaking, Alter Bridge are simply overloaded with firepower.  Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips are as solid a rhythm section as any, possessing a combined mastery of dynamics and power that result in the driving force behind the band’s unique sound.  Guitarist Mark Tremonti’s unimitatable guitar style continues to show incredible growth since music fans were first exposed to his signature sound in the late 90’s.  Balancing a penchant for crushing metal riffs with serene fingerpicked passages along with his constantly improving lead work and fondness for altered tunings, Tremonti has emerged as one of the premier guitar stylists of his generation.  Vocally, the band is in a league of their own thanks to the limitless vocal ability of frontman Myles Kennedy.  From soft falsetto croons,  to stratospheric screams, Kennedy’s vocal range is capable of reaching both extremes and all points in between.  And on top of that, he has proven to be one of the finest guitar players on the scene as well, perfectly complementing Tremonti’s style thus resulting in an absolutely dazzling twin axe attack unheard of in this day and age.

The set list performed at Wembley showcases the band’s versatility and touches on all aspects of the band’s diverse attack.   Metalheads will thoroughly embrace the band’s more metallic leanings in tracks such as “METALINGUS” and “TIES THAT BIND” while Kennedy’s solo acoustic performances of “WONDERFUL LIFE” and “WATCH OVER YOU” will appeal to those that prefer the softer side of rock.  All of the band’s biggest singles are here as well, from their first (the anthemic “OPEN YOUR EYES”) to their most recent (the progressively infectious “GHOSTS OF DAYS GONE BY”) giving a perfectly balanced representation for fans and newcomers alike.  The 60 minute documentary “ROAD TO WEMBLEY” details the band’s 2011 European tour extensively with live footage and band interviews as well as commentary by fans and crew members alike.  The film gracefully captures the unbreakable connection between the band and their fans while showing in grand detail the hard work and dedication of the band’s crew as well as the film staff’s preparation in capturing both the band’s performance and the 10’000+ fans reaction.

Needless to say without all the extra goodies and such, the live concert is alone worth the price of admission.  The band is clearly firing on all cylinders with Kennedy’s vocal performance being exceptionally impressive.  The songs are replicated as perfectly live as they were on album albeit with the added intensity that comes with performing to a sold out arena crowd.   Kennedy and Tremonti pack one hell of a one-two punch both vocally and musically, with Tremonti’s vocals adding extra depth while Kennedy’s playing provides endless textures, moods, and other ear candy…helping elevate the band’s material to a level unmatched by their contemporaries.  It’s small things like these as well as the members individual talents that make Alter Bridge universally accepted by rock fans of all ages and demographics.  The band has never relied on hit singles or massive amounts of radio play, instead they’ve garnered critical acclaim by releasing 3 stellar albums, each a natural progression from the previous one balancing a sound as progressive as it is melodic, as heavy as it is hooky and subsequently following each release with a live show you now get to witness in all it’s glory.

With close to 4 hours of total content, Live at Wembley is an extraordinary release from an extraordinary group of musicians.  Whether you’re already a fan of the band or just now checking them out, this is an absolute must-have for rockers everywhere.  While this will be the only release by the band collectively in 2012, fans can check out Tremonti, Marshall and Phillips during Creed’s summer tour (rumored to be followed by a new album) while Kennedy will be spending his time touring in support of Slash’s upcoming release “Apocalyptic Love”.  Tremonti fans will also be treated to the guitarist’s first ever solo project titled “ALL I WAS” due later this year.  Until then, Live at Wembley has more than enough music to hold fans over until 2013, when the band is scheduled to reconvene for their 4th studio album.

Only time will tell what the future holds for Alter Bridge.  Whatever their next move may be, Live at Wembley sets the standard exceptionally high, and with a scheduled 3D theatrical release coming soon, it is poised to be one of the biggest music releases of the year.  Be prepared to be converted.

9/10 stars

TRACK LISTING:

DVD 1 –

1 – SLIP TO THE VOID
2 – FIND THE REAL
3 – GHOSTS OF DAYS GONE BY
4 – BEFORE TOMORROW COMES
5 – COME TO LIFE
6 – ALL HOPE IS GONE
7 – WHITE KNUCKLES
8 – BRAND NEW START
9 – METALINGUS
10- BROKEN WINGS
11- I KNOW IT HURTS
12- ONE DAY REMAINS
13- COUR D’ALENE
14- BURIED ALIVE
15- BLACKBIRD
16- WONDERFUL LIFE
17- WATCH OVER YOU
18- TIES THAT BIND
19- ISOLATION
20- OPEN YOUR EYES
21- RISE TODAY

DVD 2 –

* “Road to Wembley” documentary
*  Photo Gallery

CD –

1 – SLIP TO THE VOID
2 – FIND THE REAL
3 – GHOSTS OF DAYS GONE BY
4 – COME TO LIFE
5 – ALL HOPE IS GONE
6 – METALINGUS
7 – I KNOW IT HURTS
8 – COUR D’ALENE
9 – BLACKBIRD
10- WONDERFUL LIFE
11- WATCH OVER YOU
12- TIES THAT BIND
13- ISOLATION
14- RISE TODAY

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