Alter Bridge moves into the mix of the year’s best live shows

Courtesy: Alter Bridge Recordings/EMI Label Services

Good morning, everyone.  I hope your weekend is going well so far.  I promised earlier this morning that I’d have even more new reviews to come.  And I try my hardest to be a man of my word.  So this morning, I’ve got another new review.  Funny thing is that with this review, it’s now official that I’m going to have to shift my list of the year’s top live shows yet again.  That’s because of just how impressed I am by the topic of this review.  This morning, I offer a live set that has really set itself apart from the others that have already been released thus far.  This morning I offer to you, dear readers, the recently released double disc cd/blu-ray release from Alter Bridge, “Live at Wembley.”

So often, when it comes to choosing which live recordings to buy, audiences are forced to choose between the audio and video portions of the show(s) in question.  In other cases, fans are forced to wait and see if labels will even release given shows in more than one format.  It could be argued the reason this happens is labels’ fears of said releases’ success or lack thereof.  So in releasing “Live at Wembley” in a cd/blu-ray package, Alter Bridge Recordings and EMI Label Services were taking a calculated risk.  That risk has paid off.  What fans get in this dual disc package is a nearly two hour concert that spans its whole curent catalogue.  It doesn’t feel the least bit of its near two hour time, either.  The band keeps the energy moving throughout the concert, even in its slower songs, making that run time pass by with ease.  Add in a bonus tour documentary, and audiences get a great two piece/three-part live release that has officially made its case for being named one of the year’s best live recordings.

“Live at Wembley” is only the second live release from Alter Bridge.  But it’s also the best of the pair.  The recording documents the final show on the band’s 2011 European tour.  The very first thing that fans wil notice in this set is the stunning clarity of the show’s blu-ray presentation.  If ever there was an argument for switching  to blu-ray and HDTV, the clarity of the picture in this show is it.  It’s not all that makes the video portion of the show so impressive, though.  The show itself plays its own role.  Director Daniel E. Catullo III and his crew are to be highly commended for their work on recording the performance.  The work of the camera crew really caught the vibe of both the band and the audience.  Viewers could feel both sides feeding off of one another’s energy.  That served to make the show fly by.  Before audiences know it, the show’s over.  On top of all of that, the shooting took place from both on stage and in the crowd.  It makes audiences feel as if they’re right there with those who were there at the time of the show.  All combined, these are signs of a great live show. 

Speaking of the audience and band feeding off of one another, the way that the camera crew caught the audience clapping and swaying its hands in unison showed how much the audience appreciated the band’s performance.  It was moving to see how the band’s music brought so many people from so many different backgrounds together for one special night.  It just goes to prove music’s ability to unify people.  Those moments are many throughout the show.  But there’s something beautiful and moving about them, every time.

On stage, viewers watching the show at home see the result of the audience feeding off of the band.  Frontman Myles Kennedy takes that energy from the audiences and gives it back tenfold.  He proves to be the perennial frontman, especially during ‘White Knuckles.’  He comes across as a big kid when he gets the lighting crew to bring the lights up on one side of the audience and then the other.  It’s just one of many moments that make one compare his stage presence to that of Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger.  This is meant in a wholly complimentary manner.

As amazing as the Wembley show’s video portion is, it’s only part of what makes this set a triple threat.  The bonus tour documentary shows fans a side of the band that they might not have otherwise seen before.  As noted already, frontman Myles Kennedy comes across as a big kid at least once during the show.  Listening to him talk about how amazed he is to be where he is now serves to certify that description.  He and the rest of the band–Mark Tremonti (guitars), Scott Phillips (Drums) and Brian Marshall (Bass)–come across as being very humble, hard working musicians who do what they do more for the band’s fans than for themselves.  Hearing Myles and Brian talk about how serious Myles takes the matter of caring for his voice shows how serious he is about performing.  It’s a little bit funny hearing Myles talk about people think he’s being anti-social because he doesn’t talk much before a show.  Though it does make at least a certain amount of sense.  And it makes him that much more respected both as a vocalist and a musician.

Just as impressive as the band’s devotion to performing for its fans is how serious it takes being at the level at which it now sits.  Even as big as the band is, the band’s members talk about the honor of playing Wembley.  It’s compared to playing New York’s Madison Square Garden.  The point here was to highlight that the band realizes how far it’s come to be playing one of Europe’s most legendary venues.  Of course, for all of the seriousness caught in the documentary, there are lighter moments, too.  It’s funny hearing the band talk and laugh about how expensive things are overseas versus how expensive it might be here in the United States.

The bonus documentary has far more enjoyable moments than what is noted here.  Fans who watch it for themselves will see every one of those moments.  They will also get a wonderful high def visual experience in the video portion of the show and an equally enjoyable audio portion with the included cd.  All together, this double disc set is a triple threat in the ranks of the year’s live recordings.  It could be argued that considering both the extrensic and intrinsic value of this set, Alter Bridge has made a fully valid argument for having released one of the elite top live recordings of the year.

To keep up with all the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/PhilsPicks and “Like” it or its companion page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can also keep up with all the latest by following the Phils Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.