By Brandon Carson
On Alter Bridge’s third live album, the band decided to change their sound. In a bold move, the Parallax Orchestra, a 52-piece orchestra, joined their show for two nights at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England. What came out of this was a brilliant setlist, crisp production, and an incredible amount of emotion.
An adventurous setlist that adds to the experience
When many bands perform live, they always bring out the same old hits and never the deeper cuts from any their albums. When bands play the same songs every night, their show becomes repetitive. You hear the same lines, the same jams and, worst of all, the concert doesn’t stand out. However, bands like Pearl Jam change up their setlist every night. That makes each night unique and gives each show its own personality. Alter Bridge does this with this live album, allowing their more unknown songs to come out of the dark. I remember checking the setlist on the night they played the concert and saw that the song ‘Words Darker Than Their Wings’ was played for the first time ever that night. So, every time that someone listens to this live album they will hear that song for the first time live!
They play more deep cuts during the show such as “Fortress,” “This Side of Fate,” “Lover,” and “The End Is Here.” These songs make the concert more adventurous and bolder than the setlist on their last live album, Live at the O2 Arena. “Fortress” is a long song with many changes in the structure. Along with “This Side of Fate” and “The Last Hero” this is a very challenging setlist for them. This shows the effort they put forth for this concert and makes me respect them even more as artists.
With this setlist, Alter Bridge creates a truly unique night for their fans at the concert, and a unique experience for people listening to this live album. When a band has five great albums at their disposal to play from, what more could you want in their live show? The setlist can make or break a concert, but this one shows Alter Bridge at their full potential.
Production that highlights all members
Another great aspect of this live album is that it was produced and mixed to perfection. Let’s get the usual suspect out the way: Brian Marshall, the bass guitar player, is fit into the mix well enough to hear him playing. Usually no one ever hears the bass player in live albums, but on Royal Albert Hall, you can hear Marshall do incredible riffs and bass fills, adding to the sound.
What scared me about this project was the large 52-piece orchestra being added into the mix. But I am happy to say that the orchestra only adds to the experience. “The Other Side” is a song where the orchestra shines. The song is very dark in tone and in the lyrics, and the orchestra just adds to the feeling. There are many melodies that the orchestra creates to make the song darker and beautiful at the same time. The Parallax Orchestra also stands out on the “Wonderful Life/ Watch Over You” medley. While singer/guitarist Myles Kennedy is the only member playing on these songs, the orchestra hums away in the background, creating a somber yet uplifting atmosphere for both of the songs.
I should also mention that Mark Tremonti (lead guitar), Myles Kennedy, and Scott Phillips (drums) sound as solid as ever, not missing any note in the set. Even on the tougher songs like “Cry of Achilles,” “Fortress,” “The Last Hero,” and “This Side of Fate” each song is played with precision and passion. The solos are crisp and jaw-dropping, and the riffs are beautiful and heavy when they need to be. The production does a great job of giving each band member a moment in the spotlight.
A triumph worth listening to
There are not many bands who will bring a 52-piece orchestra on to share the stage with them, but Alter Bridge is not one of those bands. Metallica has done this with their live album S and M’and Bring Me the Horizon has done this with their live DVD. But even though Alter Bridge isn’t the first band to do this, they bring to us a live album that I believe is better than Metallica’s and Bring Me the Horizon’s.
The Other Side
Cry of Achilles
In Loving Memory
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Featured Image from Happy Metal Geek
Live at the Royal Albert Hall
With ‘Live at the Royal Albert Hall,' Alter Bridge has crafted a live album that will please both hard-core and casual fans. The Parallax Orchestra gives the songs a new life and sound that I will never get tired of. The production gives all members a part of the spotlight and is a huge improvement from the band’s last live album.