If I go crazy, then will you still call me Superman?
3 Doors Down has yet to find their “Kryptonite” as they continue to forge ahead, standing strong with more than twenty years of success behind them. After their earliest singles launched them headfirst into fame, the American rock band began a storied history gilded with Platinum hits and extensive worldwide touring schedules.
For the twentieth anniversary of debut album “The Better Life,” 3 Doors Down did what they know best: hit the road. The summer of 2021 was the summer of brilliant lights and resonant amphitheaters as they embarked on ‘The Better Life 20th Anniversary Tour.’ Due to play the album front-to-back in its entirety, the support bill varied with different special guests across the United States, including the likes of Seether, Theory Of A Deadman, Candlebox, and others. Each act brought something new to the stage as they opened the night, effectively setting the scene for 3 Doors Down to douse fans with a heavy dose of nostalgia.
The cross-country trek drew to a close in West Palm Beach, Florida, on October 16th. Seether were due to give their final guest performance, having offered their talents with gusto at more than twenty other dates. Seether was a natural match for 3 Doors Down, the grit of their enigmatic hard rock calling up a similar vein of sentimentality that intertwines seamlessly with other hard rock bands that emerged in the early 2000s. These two acts have temporal links which cannot be severed, and there was no better welcome to “The Better Life” than the familiar embrace of “Fine Again.”
Seether, however, were less intent on calling up a time capsule of their past as they were accentuating the potential of the present. 2020 saw the release of their latest album “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum,” and this tour was the first opportunity to bring those more recent hits to the live stage. Explosive songs such as “Bruised and Bloodied” and “Wasteland” show just how much Shaun Morgan continues to offer in the hard rock scene and to Seether’s live presence. He tackled the demanding dual duties of guitar and vocals with effortless grace, while his band-mates Dale Stewart (bass) and Corey Lowery (guitars) moved across the stage fluidly to draw the crowd into each and every track. Morgan‘s emotional intonation was apparent from the barricade to the very back of the crowd, apparent in the expressions on his face to the passion he used to play.
A dazzling arrangement of smoke, lights and effects were in order for the set. These skilled performers were the highlight of the evening as bright pinks and purples faded into more somber reds and golds, matching the melancholic tones imbued by some of their earlier hits. From “Broken” to “Fine Again” the set-list called upon old favorites to take center stage, and each enjoyed a warm reception from an energized audience. Softer strains of sadness filled the amphitheater in the early verses of “Broken,” and Morgan more than proved the versatility of his voice as he shifted from ballad to hard-rock thunder in mere moments. Most of the current lineup has been with the band since their early years, but relative newcomer and guitarist Corey Lowery proved to mesh naturally with the on-stage chemistry. Showcasing the commanding synergy of the greatest, Seether marched in brilliant unison from start to close, keeping enthusiasm high while exuding the professional polish of experienced performers.
The crowd was crackling with energy by the time Seether left the stage, but there was an absolute explosion of tension as 3 Doors Down opened with their most fabled hymn. “Kryptonite” drew screams and shouts as loud as thunder, but longtime vocalist and front-man Brad Arnold held steady with the long-perfected build to a frenzied chorus. Voices raised in unison to recite the familiar words, allowing a wave of momentum to carry into “Loser.” Even when faced with the excitement of the crowd and of their final night, 3 Doors Down maintained superb control over their execution. More somber moments managed to make the amphitheater feel intimate, Arnold drawing in each audience member as though he were addressing each individual alone.
“The Better Life” proved ideal for the live environment and the music resonated through the walls of the beautiful Mizner Park Amphitheater. It captured the iconic sonic foundation of 3 Doors Down’s earlier years while flowing dynamically for an exuberant audience. Slower verses meshed to anthemic choruses, allowing “Be Like That” to transition into the inciting build of “Life of My Own.” The latter proved that impassioned delivery and expert musicianship are enough to hold any crowd rapt, regardless of speed or fury. Justin Biltonen was the paragon of precision as he held his own on bass, allowing each hearty note to swell to its full potential, while guitarists Chris Henderson and Chet Roberts spent their night cruising left to right, coming to the center for a guitar solo showdown and approaching the brink of the stage to engage with the fans in the front rows, as they played with fervor, locking eyes with the crowd and tearing through iconic cuts like “Away From the Sun,” “Be Like That” and “Better Life,” surgically supported by the thunderous rhythm section of Justin Biltonen and drummer Greg Upchurch.
Faced with the closing night of the tour, 3 Doors Down arranged an absolutely spectacular encore that carried with it the joy of a successful summer venture. Finale “When I’m Gone” was more than mere recitation as the stage was filled, teeming with both crew and members of Seether, in a celebration of accomplishment and the return of live music in full-force. The song could have gone on for the rest of the evening, sustained solely by the enthusiasm of the crowd. “The Better Life” may have drawn from the band’s earliest era, and the tour may have paid homage to the state of rock decades prior, but each band brought with them an indomitable passion and modern relevance.
Gasoline / Fine Again / Broken / Country Song / Nobody Praying for Me / Rise Above This / Bruised and Bloodied / Wasteland / Let You Down / Dangerous / Fake It / Remedy (with 3 Doors Down)
3 DOORS DOWN Setlist
Kryptonite / Loser / Duck and Run / Not Enough / Be Like That / Life of My Own / Better Life / Down Poison / Away From the Sun / By My Side / Landing in London / Smack / So I Need You / It’s Not My Time (with Seether)
Here Without You / When I’m Gone (with Seether and crew onstage to conclude the tour)