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Alter Bridge: Live From The O2 Arena + Rarities
In a music industry that still seems obsessed with bands of old and reissues galore, US hard rock outfit Alter Bridge may be one of the few outfits that might just be able to come out of the current crop and still be remembered long after they are gone. For now, thankfully, the band are thoroughly alive and kicking and if ever there was proof, it's that most 70s of things – the double live album – that does it. Of course even with vinyl back in vogue, this is the digital age, so this is a twin compact disc affair that amasses a mighty nineteen song setlist as it recounts the evening of November 24th 2016 when Alter Bridge stormed the O2 in London, England and claimed it for their own.
Pulling together songs from right across their five album catalogue, but unsurprisingly focused on their most recent studio outing, The Last Hero, it's hard to fault a performance that somehow makes the gargantuan arena they were faced with feel both mighty and intimate. With the thousands strong crowd singing and cheering along, the balance between an excellent, clear, honest sound and the true live experience, is found expertly. The feeling that if you close your eyes you could be standing somewhere in the audience only just stolen away by the excellent on stage sonics.
Right through "Ghost Of Days Gone By" and "Cry Of Achilles" to "Crows On A Wire" and "Blackbird", singer (and guitarist) Myles Kennedy is bang on the money. Although with the finished sound not over polished, he's never too good to be true. Guitarist Mark Tremonti gives the varied virtuoso masterclass we've become accustomed to, his individual style infusing "Show Me A Leader" and "Rise Today" with real emotion, while his lead vocals on "Waters Rising" also show just how adept he has become in that department. The unsung duo of the band are bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips, who as you'd expect, go about their business with unfussy aplomb, but in the end prove utterly crucial to everything that's good about Alter Bridge. Live albums may well be ten a penny these days, just about every tour from some bands resulting in a CD, DVD or Blu-ray, and, in fairness, Alter Bridge aren't immune, this being their third such effort. However, when they're as good as Live From The O2 Arena, who's complaining?
If that however isn't enough to prise cash from your hand, then maybe the third disc (and some versions add a DVD documentary disc too) of 'rarities' may just do the trick? All of the band's previously Japanese only bonus tracks brought together with "Breathe", which was only available on the Best Buy edition of The Last Hero. That song however, came from the sessions for the band's One Day Remains debut, as do "Solace" and "Cruel Sun", the latter pair seeing the light of day for the very first time here. Both are good, solid cuts that fans of the band's early work will lap up eagerly, even if, like almost everything else on the disc, it's easy enough to see why they didn't make the final cut of the album they were recorded for. Still, 11 songs of never heard, or reasonably hard to find Alter Bridge is hardly something to be sneezed at; the energetic "The Damage Done" and boisterous "We Don't Care At All" possibly the cream of this crop.
So, an excellent double live CD, welcome collection of obscure tracks and, if your wallet stretches to it, a documentary to immerse yourself in, makes Live From The O2 Arena + Rarities one of those scarce modern day events, a live release that's genuinely worth your time and investment.
01. The Writing On The Wall
02. Come To Life
03. Addicted To Pain
04. Ghost Of Days Gone By
05. Cry Of Achilles
06. The Other Side
07. Farther Than The Sun
08. Ties That Blind
09. Water Rising
10. Crows On A Wire
11. Watch Over You (solo acoustic)
15. Open Your Eyes
16. Show Me A Leader
17. Rise Today
18. Poison In Your Veins
19. My Champion
02. Cruel Sun
04. New Way To Live
05. The Damage Done
06. We Don't Care at All
09. Never Borne To Follow
10. Never Say Die (Outright)
11. Symphony Of Agony (The Last of Our Kind)
Added: September 9th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Alter Bridge online
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