Since releasing ‘One Day Remains’ in 2004, hard rock giants Alter Bridge have developed a hardcore fanbase who have helped escalate from an offshoot of Creed to certified arena headliners in their own right. Their third live album ‘Live at the O2 Arena + Rarities’ is a gift to those fans from the band.
Recorded from London’s prestigious O2 Arena, ‘Live…’ captures Alter Bridge in their natural element as they pave through a greatest hits set with a selection of tracks from last years’ ‘The Last Hero’ in between. Admittedly, ‘The Last Hero’ was a weaker chain in the otherwise impenetrable AB back catalogue, and tracks like ‘The Other Side’ seem to meander by and gain favourable enough reactions, before the stomp-and-groove of ‘Isolation’ and the immense ‘Cry of Achilles’ really puts the crowd in a frenzy.
While one can sense the weight of the occasion in the band’s performance, a swampy mix dampens the impact of hooks on the should-be-monstrous ‘Ties That Bind’ and ‘Metalingus’. With the mix putting frontman Myles Kennedy’s vocals front and centre, the real standout comes with the fully acoustic ‘Watch Over You’ where Myle’s delicate handling of the departure based ballad culminates with an audience of 20,000 people signing its signature chorus.
The additional disc of ‘Rarities’ includes previously released tracks from the ‘One Day Remains’ sessions and a collection of bonus tracks for Japanese album releases. The unreleased ‘Breathe’ and ‘Cruel Sun’ are interesting artefacts of a band finding their feet which gives fans a chance to appreciate how far AB’s approach to songwriting has evolved since then. While this collection provides a catalogue of fist-raising hooks on ‘We Don’t Care At All’ and ‘Never Say Die (Outright)’, one can understand why they didn’t make the original tracklisting of each album they would have belonged to.
Essentially, ‘Live at the O2 Arena + Rarities’ exists for the die-hard fans that got Alter Bridge playing in venues of that size. It gives fans and the band a chance to reflect on how far they’ve come as a unit, and celebrate the heights they’ve reached from years of constant touring and recording. Casual listeners need not approach, this collection is for the dedicated followers.
‘Live at the O2 Arena + Rarities’ by Alter Bridge is out now on Napalm Records.
Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)