Our first gig at The Hydro and opinions are mixed. Internally it’s lovely, though toilet queues weren’t unlike those at the SECC. Having to exit the main hall to get a beer then try and dig your ticket out while showing your stamped hand while juggling several plastic cups to get back in again was also awkward!
Sound quality was generally good, views weren’t a problem and it’s not overly large. On the downside, the choice of green lighting for the venue was a poor one. It looked like an uncleaned fish tank when we were walking up. Not great unless you have a thing for algae. I wonder if they could make it a nice, deep blood red should Slayer ever headline?
After some confusions with the set times courtesy of an email sent out by the venue, it was good to see Halestorm treading the boards at the stroke of seven for a short but sweet opening set. Thirty minutes is never enough for this bunch, but they made the most of it without ever appearing to rush.
Lzzy’s voice sounded a little hoarse – moreso than the usual huskiness – but she belted out the songs they had time for, including a cover of Judas Priest‘s “Dissident Aggressor” which opens their new EP.
As ever, they just seemed to treat the stage like a second home. Completely relaxed and having every bit as much fun as their fans nearer the front.
I’ve said this before and I feel I’ll say it many more time – Arejay is the most entertaining drummer you will see on a stage. No fancy kits, no roller-coaster knock-offs… just pure Animal-the-drummer-from-The-Muppets madness. This is why I had no issue with their short set containing a drum solo!
Short, sweet and always welcome. Plus, Lzzy responded to two of my tweets after the set which made my night. Even more when it was to say they would be announcing further European dates for April 2014 in the morning!
Time for a quick pee break (up four flights of stairs or a big escalator for us guys, then turn right at the radio presenter) and back in time for Shinedown.
I think this is the fourth time I’ve seen them and they always deliver a powerful performance. This was no exception, though I found it strange that, limited to about an hour as a support act, they used a lot of the time playing intro tapes. And then there was Brent’s “rousing” speech which ran on for a bit. And on. For a bit more.
Music-wise, there were no surprises and no duff tracks. Cramming a “best of” selection into their allotted time wouldn’t be hard as they have well over an hour or cracking material across their four albums.
You can see the setlist below and it didn’t leave a dull moment. Aside from the mysterious gaps between tracks that stopped the flow of the set slightly. I don’t mind confessing to having a bit of a sing-along to pretty much everything. How Brent manages to power those words out night after night without developing polyps is beyond me.
Like every other time I’ve seen them, all four members played through the set with big grins on their faces like they just know they have the best job in the world.
Brent’s aforementions speech towards the end of the set was very much like the one he gave when I saw them in Edinburgh a year or so ago. Perhaps heartfelt, but open to so much potential heckling. I gather he was raised a Southern Baptist, and given a white suit (and lower morals) he could be making a mint with his own TV station – the man has charisma oozing from every pore.
Thankfully, he’s directed his talents into the far more worthwhile arena of rock and roll, and for this – ladies and gentlemen – I am truly grateful.
After a surprisingly brief set change, our headliners appeared. I’ve seen Alter Bridge twice before and, in honesty, they’ve underwhelmed me on both occasions. Partly, if I’m honest, due to the fact that they tend to pick such damn good support bands that they leave themselves with a difficult job.
Halestorm have the fun element. Shinedown have that sheer power. Alter Bridge are simply phenomenal musicians who write good rock songs. Yeah, “simply”. As if that’s a bad thing.
Their music’s great, but I just don’t feel they have the energy of tonight’s support acts.
However… I would rate this as my favourite AB show to date, and far better than the SECC two years back. That time they had Theory of a Deadman and Black Stone Cherry under them. Another brilliant line-up. For whatever reason, I just didn’t enjoy AB that night.
Tonight was different.
The opening half hour was so-so, in my opinion. Good lights, good sound, great crowd and superb music. However, as we approached “Ghost of Days Gone By” and into “Ties That Bind”, I just found myself dragged further into the set and enjoying myself far more.
I think it was partly to do with the choice of songs as far more of my favourites were in there. Then there was the bee incident, and the following duet with Lzzy Hale (whose gravelly voice had given way to her more trademark husky vocals *swoon*) – the video for which you should find on this page until the record company find it and ask for it to be taken down…
Overall, they simply put on a brilliant show. And one with no fancy accoutrements. No walking effigies, no flames, no stifling clouds of stage smoke, no blood, no live sacrifices… just good, well-played, well-written rock music.
And like both bands before them, when they got to the end of their set and Myles thanked the crowd you really know that he meant it. All twelve people we saw perform tonight are in the top of their leagues, all of them love what they do and all appreciate that without us lot forking out for tickets, merch and music they’d be doing something mundane.
So here’s to mugs like us. Long may we make bands like these a success. And long may they reward us with quality gigs like this.