Alter Bridge are currently on a North American headlining tour supporting their latest album, “Pawns & Kings,” and just completed a six-week European tour last month. The North American tour consists of 30 shows (split into two legs) that started January 25th in Tampa, FL, and will wrap up April 1st in Highland, CA. Mammoth WVH are joining them as direct support for this entire tour.
Last week’s show at the Welmont Theater in Montclair, NJ, has been sold-out for weeks as the anticipation of seeing both bands together has reached a fevered pitch. It was evident from fans waiting in line at the venue for hours, discussing their favorite songs, albums, and tours. It’s always wonderful to see fans of all ages, races, and nationalities beaming with pride wearing their Alter Bridge, Van Halen, and Mammoth WVH merch in a unified moment of happiness. These are the moments metal fans live for; it’s their drug and religion all rolled into one. You instinctively knew this concert would be special from a glimpse of this pre-show excitement.
With only 45 minutes in their set, Mammoth WVH were outstanding and made an indelible impression. Wolfgang Van Halen wrote and performed all of the instruments and vocals on his debut album, but for the tour, he enlisted the help of Frank Sidoris [guitar], Jon Jourdan [guitar], Ronnie Ficarro [bass], and Garrett Whitlock [drums].
The band performed eight songs off their hard-driving “riff rock” debut album and cranked it up to 11. Opening with “Mammoth” and then “Mr. Ed,” Mammoth WVH were rock-solid and as tight of a band as you will ever hear. The crowd instinctively sang every word of all his songs, creating a symphony of backing vocals. The outpouring of love from this Jersey Strong crowd visibly humbled Wolfgang. When the magic of writing great riffs have eluded many bands lately, it clearly shines bright with him. The band has a fresh take on balls-out rock n’ roll, with big choruses while delivering a dynamic live show.
Wolf was a one-person wrecking crew handling all the vocals, playing guitar, taking the solos, and occasionally jumping in on keyboards for “Epiphany” and “Think it Over.” Frank of, Slash ft. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators fame and Jon are dynamic searing guitar players. Garrett, who has performed with Tremonti in the past, and Ronnie are the band’s backbone, allowing the three guitars to drive the songs. These guys know how to play their instruments, and they know how to play together. If Mammoth WVH was on a mission to preserve the sanctity of rock in its purest form, they should consider it a job well done.
Saving their best song for last, “Don’t Back Down,” Mammoth WVH turned up the heat. Just when they had the crowd fired up, their set was over. One can only hope the band comes around again as a headliner so we can hear more songs and some extended guitar solos! Mammoth WVH are destined to make a tremendous impact on the music industry and stage.
Mammoth Van Halen Photo Gallery:
Headliners, Alter Bridge came out swinging with three strong songs; “Silver Tongue,” “Addicted to Pain,” and “Ghost of Days Gone By.” These songs quickly set the tone for the evening and raised the bar for their performance. Alter Bridge are writing better than ever in their career with each album and, in turn, creates a richer and stronger live show. The sold-out crowd got exactly what they expected – an unstoppable wall of twin guitars.
Alter Bridge remains a no-nonsense band carrying the torch for rock n’ roll! Fans sang to every word of their songs as their heroes Mark Tremonti on guitar/vocals, Myles Kennedy on vocals/guitar, Brian Marshall on bass, and Scott Phillips on drums raged on. If rock n’ roll is dead, Alter Bridge missed the memo. The band has everything anyone can ask for; crushing guitars, heavy rhythms, top-notch songwriting, and melodic songs with thought-provoking lyrics that are sung well. The band performed four songs off “Pawns & Kings”, the title track, the opener, “Holiday,” and “This is War.” The album has been met with critical acclaim and is one of their best albums to date. Prior to the show, I asked Mark if there was an expectation that their newest album has to be equally as good if not better than the previous one. He replied, “The only goal you have as a writer is to get better, and if you are not getting better, then you are just getting worse. Sometimes for an artist, better is just different; we don’t want to keep repeating the same thing Blackbird record over and over. We want to add new tastes and sounds. Better for Alter Bridge is to just keep challenging ourselves.”
No Alter Bridge concert would be complete without “Blackbird,” a song about the loss of a loved one and the hardship surrounding it. It also is a rallying cry for resilience as the band lets everyone know it’s okay to mourn, love, and make peace with life.
Mark and Myles handled the guitar parts beautifully, giving the songs the heft and lift they needed. Each guitarist has a unique playing style, which is slightly different yet perfectly complements each other and the songs. Mark was armed with his arsenal of PRS guitars and Bogner Uberschall amps to perfectly connect all the notes ingrained in our brains. Adding some dimension mid-set to their performance, Myles appeared on stage with his acoustic guitars to perform and sing “Watch over Me,” and then Mark joined him with his acoustic to perform “In Loving Memory” while Myles sang. It was a spellbinding moment that raised the hair on your arms. The presentation of the song had fans’ undivided attention, as a hush fell over the theater where you could hear every nuance of the guitar and a pin drop during the vocal pauses.
Myles is a captivating and charismatic front-man not only for his legendary singing and guitar playing but as a lyricist who can paint thematic pictures in our mind’s eye. He tirelessly sang every song with heart and soul for the love of his fans. Brian is the sonic ambassador between the rhythm of Scott‘s drumming and the guitar playing. He is responsible for holding the band together with rhythm and fury.
The chemistry between the band members was combustible. All members were working in perfect harmony, knowing all their parts, nuances, and queues without hesitation – like a well-oiled machine. The band brought their own spectacular lighting that turned the theater into an arena compared to the Wellmont‘s drab poor blue lighting. Alter Bridge remain a global phenomenon stretching beyond cultural, religious, political, and racial boundaries to remain an unmovable core of our musical vision!