Alter Bridge, the American rock/metal act featuring three members of Creed and Slash's current frontman Myles Kennedy, have had a rapid rise to popularity since forming in 2004. And here's the evidence, a CD/DVD package of their sold out performance at Wembley Arena on 29th November 2011. In fact, the press sheet informs it's been their "collective dream...to one day sell out this iconic venue" which Kennedy alludes to early on in the show when he says, smiling in a semi-humble/semi-accomplished manner: "Good evening Wembley...I've always wanted to say that!" A second DVD in this impressively packaged set features a near-hour long documentary entitled 'The Road to Wembley', so this was obviously a momentous occasion for the band and, as such, this is an important release in capturing the significance of that night in all its audio/visual magnificence.
With the CD featuring only fourteen songs and the DVD twenty one, I'm sure it's the latter fans will be most interested in. At just over 76 minutes, the CD's been filled to capacity but with the DVD's full two hours it's a shame the show in its entirety wasn't split across two audio discs. Still, it's a minor criticism for, like I said, the real gem of this package is the DVD for multi-camera footage captures the band from just about every conceivable angle with a nice balance of close-ups and tracking/crane shots from around the arena, and the option of a stereo or 5.1 DTS soundtrack.
Personally, I'm not a great fan of arena shows - they're usually incomparable for atmosphere but all too often inferior for sound through unmanageable acoustics that become impossible to satisfy audience members in all disparate vantage points. I'm usually not a big fan of live releases either; after all, nothing compares to the experience of actually being there and an audio/visual document of such can sometimes offer little more than a nice memento for those who were. However, in this case, the quality of the sound is so good that it's perhaps the best way to enjoy the audio part of what went down that night.
With a mere three albums to their name thus far, Alter Bridge's recorded material is naturally well represented here although these live versions offer a rawer and greater vitality to their studio counterparts. Again, this is where the DVD provides a fuller experience over the CD as every emotional nuance is captured in close-up on band members' facial expressions as they perform with a great sincerity - most notably Kennedy, and you can clearly see how much the occasion means to the man. And it's a nice touch when he jumps from the stage into the photopit at the show's climax to shake as many hands as possible with fans up against the barrier.
As for the documentary, it's a nicely edited montage of interview excerpts from all band members, intercut with concert footage as well as on the road and behind the scenes snippets from around the world. The four musicians talk humbly and sincerely about their rise to prominence and how fortunate they are to have such a dedicated, wide-ranging fanbase, as well as general life as touring/recording musicians, early influences and the original formation of Alter Bridge. They also chat away about what they love about each individual country within which they've performed although you would've thought a keener-eyed proof-reader could've been employed as a subtitle that flashes up for "Gothemburg" is a bit of a blunder.
For fans of the band, this CD/DVD package provides an astonishingly good snapshot of this particular point in Alter Bridge's career. And with Kennedy said to be spending 2012 working with Slash, and Mark Temonti, Brian Marshall and Scott Phillips back concentrating on Creed, it'll be a while before they reconvene for recording and/or touring. In that sense, this release fills that gap nicely.
LIVE AT WEMBLEY - EUROPEAN TOUR 2011
Review by Mark Holmes
2nd April 2012
CD: 1) Slip to the Void; 2) Find the Real; 3) Ghosts of Days Gone By; 4) Come to Life; 5) All Hope is Gone; 6) Metalingus; 7) I Know It Hurts; 8) Cour D'Alene; 9) Blackbird; 10) Wonderful Life; 11) Watch Over You; 12) Ties That Bind; 13) Isolation; 14) Rise Today
DVD 1: 1) Slip to the Void; 2) Find the Real; 3) Ghosts of Days Gone By; 4) Before Tomorrow Comes; 5) Come to Life; 6) All Hope is Gone; 7) White Knuckles; 8) Brand New Start; 9) Metalingus; 10) Broken Wings; 11) I Know It Hurts; 12) One Day Remains + 9 more
DVD2: Documentary Film + Photo Gallery
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...an astonishingly good snapshot of this particular point in Alter Bridge's career."