Sevendust has just released a metal masterpiece, Truth Killer; Alter Bridge is supporting their 2022 release, Pawns & Kings, and Wolfgang Van Halen‘s Mammoth WVH is releasing his sophomore album Mammoth II today. Three outstanding bands and musicians on one bill who continually release exceptional music. They are carrying the flag for hard rock and heavy metal.
The excitement for tonight’s show has been palpable since tickets tour went on sale. Tonight, it reached a frenzies pitch from the fans waiting under the hot summer sun in line for hours for the venue doors to open. They chatted about which band, songs, albums, and tours were their favorites. Seeing all ages, races, and nationalities beaming with pride wearing their Alter Bridge, Sevendust, and Mammoth WVH shirts in a unified moment of happiness was nirvana. These are the moments that metal fans live for; it’s their drug and religion all rolled into one. From a glimpse of this pre-show excitement, you instinctively knew this show would be extraordinary!
As soon as Wolfgang stepped on stage, the crowd at the Stone Pony Summer Stage erupted. You could tell by the look on his face that this would be a fun-filled performance as he came out smiling, waving, and pointing to fans he recognized. It was a warm and personable way to greet this overjoyed New Jersey crowd.
Once he had everyone’s attention, the guitarist and lead singer kicked into his first song, “Mammoth,” from his debut album, with his touring band Frank Sidoris [guitar], Jon Jourdan [guitar], Ronnie Ficarro [bass], and Garrett Whitlock [drums]. It’s been over eight months since New Jersey fans have seen him perform, and they were eager to delve into his set, where fans were treated to three new songs from Mammoth II; “Like a Pastime,” “Take a Bow,” and “Another Celebration at the End of the World.” The crowd instinctively sang every word to them, creating a symphony of backing vocals. Wolfgang was visibly humbled by the outpouring of love from this crowd as his proud mother, Valerie Bertinelli, looked on from side-stage.
Wolfgang has his own undeniable style of playing and songwriting that marries melodic riffs with catchy choruses. Combine that with some tasteful vibrato during the leads, and the songs are enhanced beyond expectation. Watching him combine his signature techniques of speed, dexterity, melody and reach into a tremendous display of guitar playing was awe-inspiring!
Mammoth WVH Photo Gallery (Photos by Robert Cavuoto):
Right out of the gate, the Sevendust hit the crowd with ‘Face to Face.” It quickly set the tone for the show and raised the bar for the evening. Pockets of mosh pits started to form, and fans sang along to every word as their heroes Lajon Witherspoon [vocals], Clint Lowery [guitar], John Connolly [guitar – not on stage tonight], Vince Hornsby [bass], and Morgan Rose [drums]brought a sense of fevered energy to the stage on this beautiful evening.
In their 60-minute set, they played a nice mix of classics and new songs, including “Fence” off Truth Killer. The entire new album is a homage to feeling good and enjoying life, something which has been missing in music and is well-needed. Sevendust have been writing better than ever have in their career, and this album is proof.
Clint handled all the guitar parts perfectly as John is recuperating and will be band back on stage in a few days. Despite not having his guitar partner, he never missed a beat and gave the performance of his life, handling all the rhythm parts and solos. Vince is the sonic ambassador between the pounding of Morgan‘s drumming and the guitar playing. He is responsible for holding the low end together with rhythmic fury. Lajon is a captivating and charismatic performer not only for his singing but as a lyricist who can paint thematic pictures in our mind’s eye. He tirelessly sang every song with heart and soul, with the summer sun behind the band. Lajon, who is not a typical fan of cursing in songs or on stage, apologies to the surrounding apartments and people on the boardwalk for dropping the F-Bomb once or twice, as the community has a laughable no profanity policy from the stage. The energy and fury emanating from the stage could be felt and heard outside the fenced-in venue into the parking lot, where fans and onlookers gathered!
Sevendust delivered a set that included “Denial,” Crucified,” Disgrace,” and the hauntingly beautiful “Angel’s Son,” which Lajon wrote in memory of James Lynn Strait of the band Snot. As a prolific lyricist, I asked Lajon during our last interview how he would like fans to interpret his lyrics; he replied, “I invite fans to interpret the lyrics in their own way. It’s what I do when listening to other bands’ music. It makes me feel present and in the moment. It’s supposed to make you feel good! Music is the healer, and I’m the doctor here to give the medicine.” When Doctor Lajon was on stage, there was contagious energy in the air! 7D are musical masters, as they can turn pure emotion and angst into a defiant celebration!
SEVENDUST Photo Gallery (Photos by Robert Cavuoto):
As the sun set and a full moon rose in the sky over Asbury Park’s beach, Alter Bridge took command of the Stone Pony Summer Stage. The band consists of Mark Tremonti [guitar/vocals], Myles Kennedy [vocals/guitar], Brian Marshall [bass], and Scott Phillips [drums]. If Rock & Roll is dead, nobody told Alter Bridge. The band has everything anyone can ask for; crushing guitars, heavy rhythms, and top-notch lyrics and songwriting. There is something in their music for everyone that is magically relatable.
The band raged through a ~90-minute set of the best songs the band had to offer. The songs were delivered with the same aggression as recorded. There was minimal talking by the band as they were on a mission to get as many songs across in their set as humanly possible in their set. Anyone who came to the show understood that and got what they expected…an unstoppable wall of guitars and ass-kicking bass!
The band came out with three strong opening songs; “Silver Tongue,” “Addicted to Pain,” and “Ghost of Days Gone By.” The chemistry between the band members is instantaneously noticeable. All members were working in perfect harmony, knowing all their parts, nuances, and queues without hesitation. There was no shortage of highlights in tonight’s performance, like when Myles performed “Watch Over You” acoustically or Mark took lead vocals on “Burn it Down” or “Cry of Achilles” with its flamenco guitar intro. The song that everyone was waiting for, “Blackbird,” came towards the end of the set, which has become a staple in their set.
Myles‘s hypnotizing, seasoned tenor voice filled the air as he tirelessly played guitar, danced on his pedal board, and sang confidently as a steady breeze continually blew across the stage. Mark is a true innovator on the guitar and gave his diehard fans a healthy dose of some dazzling guitar techniques like down picking, alternate picking, blues runs, and fluid legato playing. He is a visionary player who can sculpt sound and bend minds in equal proportions.
The band played the title track from their latest album; I asked Mark about the importance of playing “Pawns & Kings” live. He responded, “It encapsulates everything there is about the album. It also has one of the best choruses on the album. When the album was finished, we put it last because we want fans to experience the entire before they get to that song. It’s a must-have song in our set because it’s so fun to play live!”
Scott is the band’s engine room, ensuring all songs are timed and paced to perfection. Brian laid down the low end and knew how to handle a song by playing between the melody and the harmony, which is felt more than heard.
The night ended with two final songs in the encore, “Open Your Eyes” and “Rise Today.” Alter Bridge remains a no-nonsense band who is redefining modern-day Rock & Roll that is guaranteed to leave a mark on your soul!
ALTER BRIDGE Photo Gallery (Photos by Robert Cavuoto):