Gig Review: Alter Bridge / Halestorm / Mammoth WVH – Hydro, Glasgow (6th December 2022)

A cold and miserable Glasgow night it may have been, and I was under the weather myself, but the Hydro was cosy with a very pleasing number of bums on seats and stander-uppers for a three-band lineup that promised to please.

Mammoth WVH (c) Sean Larkin

We got there a couple of songs into Mammoth WVH‘s set and the only real disappointment was not catching it in its entirety. The titular WVH is Wolfgang Van Halen and, yes, he is a relation (in case you didn’t know). Previously a member of Tremonti, there’s always the double-barrelled possibly claim of nepotism / “who know know”, but trust me when I say that Mammoth were very much here on merit, judging by their performance.

Straight up, middle of the road rock and roll with no surprises they did what they did very well… and I’d listen to them again quite happily. Like any good rock act they had some bangers and some soothers, and they carried both off with the air and comfort of a headliner. Given the number of obvious fans in the audience, I’d hope to see them touring again sometime soon.

Halestorm (c) Sean Larkin

Main support came from a band who have headlined the Hydro themselves fairly recently, and who I’ve seen here (and in other places) quite a few times – Halestorm. Offhand, I think I’ve seen Lzzy and her crew six or seven times, so you’d think they may be getting a little stale in my eyes, but… hell, no. I apologise to the rest of Halestorm as each of them is superb, but Lzzy absolutely blew me away with undoubtedly the best performance I have ever heard from her. Hands down. And that was a high bar to get over.

Even before the rest of the band had struck a note, she was raising the roof with voice alone before the band as a whole crushed the audience with “The Steeple”. Old friend “Love Bites (So Do I)” followed before the band hopped back and forth through their catalogue, barely giving the assembled masses a chance to draw breath.

Arjay, of course, got his drum solo – perhaps surprising given the shorter support slot. Mind, I’ve seen him do longer solos! Maybe another song would have been welcome at this point, but as ever the fans lapped it up before the band headed into what was, effectively, their encore trio of “Back From The Dead”, “I Get Off” and “I Miss The Misery”. They definitely left us wanting more, but there was still another ninety minutes of rock to come.

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Alter Bridge hit the stage at 21:10 to fill those ninety minutes as there was a stated 22:40 curfew. Odd, but convenient to let an old duffer like me get home that bit earlier. Taking the brave step of opening with a new number, “Silver Tongue” was well received but the audience were definitely happier with the more familiar tracks. Only two from Pawns and Kings featured in the set with the title track itself being cut due to timings.

Alter Bridge (c) Sean Larkin

You know you’re going to get value for money from Alter Bridge (or Creed or Tremoniti or The Conspirators or…), and such we got. Big graphic backdrops and a great lightshow accompanied “Ghosts of Days Gone By”, “Shed My Skin”, “Isolation” and others. This was your typical, wonderfully overblown arena rock show. Alter Bridge know how to put these on and make it look easy, without looking bored doing it. Vocal duties hopped to Mark Tremonti now and again, his voice a little rougher (and suitable for his songs) compared to Myles Kennedy’s smoother ones, adding more varierty and depth to the band’s performance.

This was as good a show as I’ve seen Alter Bridge put on, and they could easily have filled two hours with “Oh I wish they’d played…” numbers. However, they were let down by one thing: the sound being cranked from ten up to eleven. While the openers’ had great audio, for several parts of Alter Bridge’s set, the bass end was doing that awful buzzy/smushy/farty thing. I know it all depends on where in the arena you may have been, so others might not have had this affect them, but it did take the shine off what was otherwise a simply fantastic concert.

I’ve been to a few Hydro gigs this year and there always seem to be quite a few empty seats, or the downstairs isn’t as full as it could be. However, looking around tonight the place seemed the fullest since the live scene started to kick back in again. Those who turned up were rewarded with a hugely enjoyable show and hopefully experiences like this, and the word of mouth that follows, will get more fans returning to our venues.

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Pics by Sean Larkin Photography

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