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Music DVD Review: Alter Bridge – Live From Amsterdam

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Rising from the molten metal of the Creed meltdown five years ago, three of the band's founding members, Mark Tremonti (guitar), Scott Phillips (drums), and Brian Marshall (bass), immediately joined forces with former Mayfield Four frontman, Myles Kennedy, to form an equally powerful rock and roll force for the new millennium, Alter Bridge.

Although I was not exactly blown away by the band's debut album, 2004's One Day Remains, I did find their 2007 follow up, Blackbird, to be one of the best hard rock albums of the year. I still listen to it regularly whenever I need a good adrenaline fix to kick off my day.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a concert DVD from these guys so soon, considering that they only have the two albums under their belt, and the fact that Creed has recently reunited. The band is adamant, however, that the Creed reunion does not spell the end of Alter Bridge, and according to Kennedy's blog they have already finished recording the basic tracks for their third album.

Live From Amsterdam was recorded live at the Heineken Music Hall, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, on December 8th, 2008, in front of about 8,000 wildly enthusiastic European fans. The concert was produced and directed by veteran concert DVD producer Daniel E. Catullo, using twenty-four high-definition cameras, and the results are spectacular.

Alter Bridge were still touring in support of their Blackbird album last year, so the concert features ten of that album's thirteen tracks. Six songs from the debut album, the rarely performed b-side, "New Way To Live," and a bodacious cover of "Traveling Riverside Blues" round out the eighteen-song setlist.

I had been wondering whether Kennedy's powerful, four-octave, pipes were the real deal or not, and this killer performance certainly puts that question to bed. It's as if they designed the guy straight from the official rock and roll frontman blueprints – he plays a mean guitar, can sing with the best of them, knows how to work the crowd, and according to my wife, is pretty easy on the eyes. Oh, and he almost took over for Robert Plant in Led Zeppelin last year.

I've been enjoying Mark Tremonti's guitar playing with Alter Bridge a lot more than I ever did with Creed, as he has really honed his skills over the last decade. He plays a variety of his own signature model Paul Reed Smith guitars throughout the show, and during "One Day Remains" you even get to watch his fingers fly across the fretboard at a ridiculously close angle thanks to a small camera mounted on the guitar headstock.

The concert gets off to a head banging start with one of my favorite Blackbird tracks, "Come To Life." The band keeps the crowd clutched firmly in the palms of their hands from the very first riff, and they never let go. The intensity of the crowd response really sucks you into the experience, and with the right home theater setup you are transported right to the show. Unlike Creed, Alter Bridge have far fewer songs, if any, that make me want to hit the skip button. Where Creed seem to either hit big, or miss big, with most of their stuff, these guys are much more consistent.

Performance highlights for me were "Brand New Start", and then of course the band's very own "Stairway To Heaven"-esque epic, "Blackbird," which follows that same infamous formula of the mellow, clean, intro, and then the slow build-up to an intensely rocking finale – and they pull it off in spades. Kennedy even kicks off the song with a few bars of the Beatles' "Blackbird," which was especially cool.

Kennedy also makes it clear that Alter Bridge are not just Creed with some new singer. His amazing solo acoustic performance of "Watch Over You," leaves no doubt that he has one of the finest voices in rock. During the encore set, he even dusts off the Robert Johnson blues standard "Traveling Riverside Blues," where he lays down some pretty tasty slide on his Dean Resonator guitar.

The DVD has excellent production values all around. DTS 5.1 surround and Dolby stereo tracks each provide crisp and well balanced audio mixes, the video quality is of the highest caliber, and the twenty-four cameras provided all of the angles you could ever ask for.

My only beef is that no bonus features were included. A band interview certainly could have been interesting, especially if they got into what led to Brian Marshall quitting Creed at the height of their success, and then rejoining the guys in Alter Bridge, and eventually reuniting with Creed. Maybe on the new Creed DVD.

Track List
01. Come To Life
02. Find The Real
03. Before Tomorrow Comes
04. Brand New Start

05. White Knuckles
06. Buried Alive
07. Coming Home
08. One Day Remains
09. Watch Over You
10. Ties That Bind
11. Blackbird
12. In Loving Memory
13. Metalingus
14. Open Your Eyes
15. Broken Wings
16. New Way To Live
17. Traveling Riverside Blues
18. Rise Today

Ratings:
Performance – 8/10
Production – 10/10

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