American rockers Alter Bridge rock Birmingham

Ian Harvey reviews American rockers Alter Bridge's performance at the NIA in Birmingham

American rockers Alter Bridge rock Birmingham

Brian Marshall, Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge

Four albums in and American rockers Alter Bridge's rise continues on its meteoric path to glory.

Just three years ago the four-piece were making noises at Birmingham's modest Academy venue. This time round they laid claim to the NIA, heading up a three-band bill which pulled in 8,000 baying rock fans.

Kicking off the evening with a punchy 30-minute set was Halestorm, the Pennsylvania band fronted by the sparky “Lzzy” Hale.

With her lion-maned brother Arejay on drums, Halestorm wasted no time crashing into their Grammy-winning hit Love Bites (So Do I).

It may have been a bit ambitious to include a drum solo in such a short slot but Arejay got the crowd cheering along with his acrobatics. The set included a blast through Midlands metal gods Judas Priest's Dissident Aggressor, Lzzy effortlessly hitting Rob Halford's highest shrieks, and ended on a more gentle note with the country-flavoured ballad Here's To Us.

Florida rockers Shinedown's set enthralled and frustrated in equal measure. Despite outstanding songs like Sound Of Madness, If You Only Knew and the gorgeous Second Chance, there was a real stop-start feel to their set.

Singer Brent Smith can whip up a crowd but he can also lay on the rambling dialogues a bit too much. And the decision to include an equally rambling acoustic section which took in Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit and Bon Jovi's Wanted Dead Or Alive on the way to Lynyrd Skynyrd's Simple Man, seemed confounding when it meant fan favourites like The Crow and The Butterfly and Cyanide Sweet Tooth Suicide were given the elbow.

With drummer Barr Kerch and bassist Eric Bass in full shock rock make-up, there was almost the feeling that Shinedown were casting around to make an impression. Perhaps they should just let the music do the talking.

That was exactly what Alter Bridge did in a 90-minute-plus set which drew from all four of their albums, taking in the gamut from all-out metal to uplifting, contemplative ballads.

This year's Fortress album has been widely hailed as Alter Bridge's best and they kicked off with its lead-off single Addicted to Pain; a thunderous statement of intent.

Singer Myles Kennedy has simply one of the best voices in modern rock and is a fine guitarist too, Put that next to virtuoso lead guitarist Mark Tremonti and you have a chemical reaction on your hands, their soloing styles both contrasting and complimenting each other.

It's difficult to pick out highlights, but White Knuckles, Cry Of Achilles and Metalingus took the temperature sky high, while Kennedy's solo acoustic reading of Watch Over You followed by Rise Today was a truly emotional combination.

Alter Bridge finished off with the double whammy of Slip Into The Void and Isolation, staking their claim to be the most compelling band in heavy rock today.

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