By Phil Ashdown.
In October 2017 I was fortunate enough to purchase a ticket for the second night of US hard rock outfit Alter Bridge’s two shows at London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall. What made these gigs special was that on this occasion the band were going to be backed by the 52-piece Parallax Orchestra.
This highly anticipated BluRay / DVD / CD package promised to be the perfect souvenir of this once-in-a-lifetime gig.
In fact this release comes less than a year after the band’s Live At The O2 Arena album that commemorated their sell-out show at that iconic London venue. Alter Bridge enjoy great commercial success here and in Europe, regularly filling large venues and arenas whilst in their homeland they only have comparatively moderate levels of achievement.
This review will concentrate on the BluRay part of the release as it gives you the most immersive experience and the viewer can more appreciate the orchestral touches that accompany the performance. It delivers a stunning display of masterfully shot camerawork with close-ups of each band member and orchestra with some superb long shots which demonstrate the simple but effective lighting throughout the whole venue.
Also it soon becomes clear just how much the band are enjoying themselves when the realisation of what they have accomplished dawns. The little looks or congratulatory pats on the back guitarist Mark Tremonti gives Myles Kennedy during the performance, most notably during the epic Words Darker Than Their Wings when the vocalist reaches a particularly pitch-perfect high note help make the song something very special.
I won’t go into too much detail on every song but it opens with a majestic Slip To The Void with Myles’ pure voice coming through brilliantly over the gentle keyboard intro with simple string accompaniment before the huge riff brings the song to life. As one would expect the longer, more epic songs is when the orchestrations really come into their own and lift the performances to another level. Most notably during The Writing On The Wall, Fortress, Waters Rising (when Mark takes lead vocal duties in impressive style), Addicted To Pain and fan favourite, Blackbird. Simply stunning.
When Myles takes centre stage for acoustic versions of Wonderful Life and Watch Over You, sitting beneath the lights on a stool, strumming his guitar along with some beautiful string and brass backing it becomes clear why he is one of the most sought-after singers in rock right now. This brought goosebumps on the night and watching it back it was possibly even more moving. The simplicity of these songs along with the orchestra score really does take them to another level. Spellbinding stuff.
My only criticism of the film is the way it constantly breaks away from the action to bring documentary insights from the band, the manager, orchestra members and rehearsal footage. These interruptions, for me, spoil the flow of the performance and whilst interesting they would have been better put on a separate ‘making of..’ disc.
Whilst generally live albums do not have the fan value they had during their glory days during the 60s and 70s they can be a good document of a show that you attended and this one certainly delivers in that respect. Overall a superb recording of a truly magical night and one of the best live videos in my collection
1. Slip To The Void
2. Addicted To Pain
3. Before Tomorrow Comes
4. The Writing On The Wall
5. Cry Of Achilles
6. In Loving Memory
8. Ties That Bind
9. The Other Side
10. Brand New Start
11. Ghost Of Days Gone By
12. The Last Hero
13. The End Is Here
14. Words Darker Than Their Wings
15. Waters Rising
17. Wonderful Life / Watch Over You
18. This Side Of Fate
19. Broken Wings
21. Open Your Eyes
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