ALTERBRIDGE / VOLBEAT / GOJIRA / LIKE A STORM - O2 ARENA, LONDON - 25.11.16
Last night saw ALTERBRIDGE and special guests take to the stage of the O2 arena for what can only be described as an epic night, of the most 'soul' awakening music!!
Not a big fan of arena / stadium concerts, opting instead for smaller venues, for that up close and personal view, I didn't do too badly, making it #DownTheFront with only a couple of people in front of me! Perfect! I don't think I have ever been to a gig where there have been so many friends and twitter acquaintances scattered about the venue. It was a great feeling to know that so many of us were here to enjoy the experience and that we would share opinions via social media soon after.
First up were LIKE A STORM, a four piece band hailing from New Zealand, but now residing in Vancouver, Canada. LIKE A STORM formed in 2005, and consist of siblings Chris Brooks (Vocals/Rhythm Guitar/Didgeridoo), Matt Brooks (Lead Guitar / Vocals), Kent Brooks (Bass/Backing Vocals) and Zach Wood (Drums). I loved these guys! They combine a post grunge, alt metal and classic hard rock sound and are so energetic and loud. Front man Chris is charismatic and owns the stage, jumping from one speaker to another, never pausing for breath as he belts out note after note. He is every bit the rock star. His use of the Didgeridoo is also a fantastic sound to bring to the mix, and actually really works. They call it Didgeridoo Metal! I call it AWESOME! At times, LIKE A STORM reminded me of an early Papa Roach, or Drowning Pool, which made me very happy! If you like your music loud, energetic and riffy then this is a band you need to check out!
After a short wait, GOJIRA were up next. Now, I have heard of them before, and listened to a couple of tracks, but generally I was unfamiliar with this band. Now I am kicking myself because I have seriously been missing out!! I am THE GIG GAL that loves metal, and this is what I used to immerse myself in before I got heavily into rock music. GOJIRA have reignited my passion for metal!! Oh my goodness they were 'ASTOUNDING'! From the first note, and I admit standing in front of the amp stack probably didn't help, but I felt like my heart was being set to a new rhythm, and that my ribcage was about to explode!! They bludgeon you with a fantastically heavy rhythmic bass line, and chuck in a load of start and stop riffs, giving you just enough time to catch your breath before their music busts through your entire being once more. They really are the musical equivalent of unrelenting heavy gun fire. GOJIRA are from Bayonne, France and consist of brothers Joe (Vocals/Guitar) and Mario Duplantier (Drums) with Christian Andreu (Guitar) and Jean-Michel Labadie (Bass). They formed in 1996 and so they've been around long enough to have crafted their skill sets to absolute perfection. Originally named Godzilla, they changed their name in 2001 prior to their first studio album release 'Terra Incognito'. Their music has been hard to 'place' in any one particular genre, and so previously, they have been associated with technical death metal, progressive, groove and thrash metal. GOJIRA's music is sonically dense and yet at the same time, shows an intelligence with extremely clever lyric writing. Their lyrics are environmentally themed, with a heavy focus upon harnessing spiritual consciousness. Interesting conceptually, they communicate the concerns of the planet through their use of extreme metal. To date, they have six studio albums, with the most recent being 'Magma' which was released this year. I have been listening to their album this morning, and certainly believe that this is a band that needs to be seen live. You need to 'feel' their music in order to appreciate it in its entirety. I cannot wait to see GOJIRA again! Awesome!!
Onwards, and this time to the almighty VOLBEAT! Bursting onto the stage and straight into 'The Devils Bleeding Crown', VOLBEAT immediately had the crowd eating out of their palm! A Danish metal band formed around the concept of giving straight up metal a more traditional rock flourish, VOLBEAT certainly know how to entertain an arena! Consisting of former Dominus front man, Michael Poulsen (Vocals/Guitar), Jon Larsen (Drums), Kaspar Boye Larsen (Bass), and former Anthrax member Rob Caggiano (Guitar), these guys bring you a melodic mix of metal, hard rock, and a dash of punk. Their tracks are groovy and melodic, their choruses catchy, their riffery knows no limits! One thing is certain and that is that VOLBEAT rock and will happily kick your arse whilst doing so! There was an element of old school gig fun about them, as they positively encouraged crowd surfing, a suggestion that didn't take people long to join in with enthusiastically. Although I didn't partake myself, it felt good to throw the health and safety concerns aside in aid of some damn good fun! They charged their way through 11 songs in total, many from their latest album 'Seal The Deal & Let's Boogie (2016), they also included a rendition of Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire, which the arena sang their hearts out to. Finishing their set with 'Still Counting' they appealed for people to join them on the stage which began a surge within the crowd to scramble over the barrier, much to my amusement. Only a small amount of those made it up onto the stage, but it certainly looked as though it made their night to be jumping around and singing with the very cool and awesome VOLBEAT. A band that will invigorate you, I cannot recommend them highly enough.
....and so onto the headliners of the night, the incredibly talented ALTERBRIDGE. I first 'discovered' them in 2007 when I stumbled across their newly released album 'Blackbird'. I downloaded it prior to a holiday as something to listen to on the plane. I remember it so vividly, because as cruising above the clouds, I listened to the beautiful song 'Blackbird' and it hit me unlike anything I had ever heard previously. It induced an emotional reaction I had never experienced before from a single song. From that moment forth, I became a fan of ALTERBRIDGE, and it had taken me until last night to finally see them live. To say I was excited would be an absolute understatement. Intro music building, the anticipation of the crowd heightening, the video screen playing hypnotic images, you were already entranced. Confidently strolling onto the stage, and straight into 'The Writing On The Wall', I was blown away at how fantastic they sound live! Absolutely incredible! ALTERBRIDGE are Myles Kennedy (Vocals / Guitar), Mark Tremonti (Guitar / Vocals), Brian Marshall (Bass) & Scott Phillips (Drums). A band that work phenomenally well together, all talented in their own right, they produce the most amazing music. Their most recent album 'The Last Hero' released this year is just the latest in a long line of great works by ALTERBRIDGE. If you haven't yet listened to this, stop reading this, and go check it out now. Song after song of melodically awesome rock tracks, carefully crafted by creative geniuses. Everything these guys do is better than what they have done previously, and they just keep it coming much to the delight of their fans around the globe. the majority of the tracks are riff heavy and hook laden, anthemic in their nature, there isn't a single word that the audience isn't familiar with, making it incredibly easy for Myles to hand the reins over to them on occasion. Lyrically the songs are clever, and you can easily lose yourself in thought through them. If there is one thing I have learnt through ALTERBRIDGE's music it's that they have the ability to make you think. Like really think. They are true epic masterpieces. I love a piece of music to move me, affect me, and perhaps change me. A song therefore reflecting a true moment in time where nothing since seemed the same. Throughout their set they took us on a journey through 17 songs in total, a tour through songs across all of their albums, and covering some firm fan favourites, such as 'Addicted To Pain', 'Ties That Bind', 'Blackbird' and 'Show Me A Leader'. Playing the hauntingly beautiful 'Watch Over You' visibly moved the entire arena, and I am sure gave many goosebumps.
ALTERBRIDGE are a strong band, with a firm foothold in the rock world, and with their natural ability for continuous growth, ensuring fresh new tracks and showcasing their passion in every note, these guys are here to stay, and boy am I happy about that!!