royal albert hall, LO NDON
If you’re going
to put on an orchestral show, do it in style. And the Albert Hall is the perfect venue. As soon as his band step onstage to be greeted by 5,000 ardent fans, Alter Bridge’s Myles Kennedy looks awestruck. “This is such a special place,” he says at one point during their two-hour set.
The classical-rock mash-up often looks better on paper than it is in reality, and countless bands have used orchestras as little more than seasoning rather than properly incorporating them into their sound. Alter Bridge and the Parallax Orchestra’s Simon Dobson and Will Harvey ensure that these two opposing elements are fully integrated. AB staples such as Addicted To Pain and Fortress are given extra depth and gravity by the 52 additional musicians onboard tonight, and they dig out In Loving Memory for the first time since 2008.
It’s not without its quirks. The venue’s rules insist on a 25-minute interval after just 40 minutes, which Myles apologetically announces. It interrupts the momentum, though it will take more than a posh toilet break to kill the atmosphere. The second half sees them play Words Darker Than Their Wings for the very first time, while Myles and Mark trade lines. The guitarist steps up to the microphone for Waters Rising (complete with sly references to Mark’s beloved Celtic Frost in the line ‘Circle of tyrants’), and the epic Blackbird takes wing and doesn’t touch down until eight minutes later.
Inevitably, the stripped-down songs are the most nakedly moving, though it’s to Simon Dobson’s credit that the orchestration enhances rather than swamps the acoustic medley of Wonderful Life and Watch Over You. It’s even more effective when both band and orchestra pull out all the stops, as on the climactic Open Your Eyes. “Thank you, this has been an amazing night,” says the typically selfeffacing Myles Kennedy when it’s finished.
It’s impossible to argue with him.
Nerves forgotten, Myles transports us to another world