LIVE PHOTOS: Alter Bridge, Skillet, Dirty Honey
Review by Greg Maki
Night one of the “Victorious Sky” tour, featuring co-headliners Alter Bridge and Skillet, took place at the MECU Pavilion in Baltimore, Maryland. Though it was the last day of summer, the season refused to release its grip on the area, although the hot day gave way to a surprisingly pleasant evening with a nice breeze coming off the harbor.
The music started promptly at 7 p.m., with Dirty Honey, an unsigned act out of Los Angeles that just went to number one at rock radio with its debut single, “When I’m Gone.” The band seemed to win over quite a few fans playing a throwback style of ‘70s- and ‘80s-influenced rock. Frontman Marc LaBelle wore a Guns N’ Roses T-shirt, to give you an idea of the band’s sound, and GNR has tapped the quartet to open a couple shows later this fall.
On this night, guitarist John Notto stole the show with his blistering, bluesy leads, while bassist Justin Smolian and drummer Corey Coverstone formed a tight rhythm section. The 30-minute set ended on a high note with the just launched second single, “Rolling 7s.”
Dirty Honey will follow this tour with the two GNR shows in Las Vegas at the beginning of November, then spend the rest of the month playing headline dates. This is a band on the rise.
DIRTY HONEY SET LIST: “Scars,” “Break You,” “Heartbreaker,” “Down the Road,” “When I’m Gone,” “Rolling 7s”
After the crew cleared Dirty Honey’s minimal gear, the stage was set for Christian rock act Skillet, which formed back in 1996 and has an impressive 10 albums under its belt. Its latest, “Victorious,” was released in August, and the set consisted of three new tracks and most of the many hit singles the band has piled up throughout its career.
Band members John Cooper (vocals/bass), Korey Cooper (guitar/keyboards), Jen Ledger (drums/vocals) and Seth Morrison (lead guitar) brought nonstop energy to their performance, while stellar production—consisting of beautiful, bright light and rising platforms—brought an arena rock feel to the MECU stage. Ledger is Skillet’s not-so-secret weapon, for her thunderous drumming and, more so, her vocals, which add a unique flavor to the band, especially when she comes out front and shares the leads as she did on the showstopping “Hero.”
SKILLET SET LIST: “Feel Invincible,” “Not Gonna Die,” “You Ain’t Ready,” “Whispers in the Dark,” “Legendary,” “Awake and Alive,” “Back from the Dead,” “Hero,” “Undefeated,” “Victorious,” “Monster,” “The Resistance”
Alter Bridge, supporting its sixth studio album, “Walk the Sky,” due Oct. 18, brought the night to a triumphant close with a 70-minute set spanning its entire career. As it usually does, the band came across much heavier on stage than it does on record. Much of that was due to song selection, starting with the opening one-two punch of metallic bangers “Wouldn’t You Rather” (the first single from the new album) and fan favorite “Isolation,” and continuing later with the high-speed “Addicted to Pain” and dynamic “Cry of Achilles.” The shining moment, as always, was the epic “Blackbird,” showcasing the searing guitar heroics of both Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti.
Kennedy said he woke up that morning feeling sick, but you couldn’t tell from his typically powerhouse vocal performance. Tremonti has evolved into a fine singer, too, taking the lead on “Waters Rising,” from my personal favorite Alter Bridge record, “Fortress” (2013).
I would have liked to see Alter Bridge play longer, but this is what you get on a co-headline run like this. (Neither Alter Bridge nor Skillet returned for an encore.) The reality of the business in rock music today is that these kinds of tours are necessary for survival. When it leads to dynamic packages such as this, it’s a win for both the bands and the fans.
ALTER BRIDGE SET LIST: (Intro: “One Life”) “Wouldn’t You Rather,” “Isolation,” “Buried Alive,” “Pay No Mind,” “Rise Today,” “Ghost of Days Gone By,” “Waters Rising,” “Addicted to Pain,” “In the Deep,” “Cry of Achilles,” “Blackbird,” “Open Your Eyes”