A cold, rainy, Tuesday night in Connecticut received a jolt of energy when Alter Bridge brought their Pawns & Kings world tour to the Dome at Toyota Presents The Oakdale Theater on February 7. The Oakdale Theater is a state-of-the-art, 5,000 capacity theater, the Dome is essentially the lobby and once housed the original theater. With a standing, general admission capicty of about 1,800, the Dome feels more like a club than a theater and all three bands seemed to thrive from that energy.
Red, a Christian modern-rock band started off the night. The band played a short set that was well-received by the packed house. While singer Michael Barns did mention a new record, Rated R, on the way, they set was culled from previous albums.
Second on the bill was Mammoth WVH, featuring Wolfgang Van Halen. I saw Mammoth WVH one year ago on the Young Guns Tour with Dirty Honey, so, with no new music out since then, I was interested to see how the band evolved over the past year. The first impression is that it felt much more like a band. Last year it really seemed more like a solo act, this year saw much more interaction among band members. A big change is the addition/return of guitarist Frank Sidoris. Last year, Sidoris was on the road with Slash, Ft. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators so he missed the Mammoth WVH tour. Having him there really changed the feel as he is a veteren of the stage and carried a tremendous stage presence. He also joins Van Halen and Jon Jourdan in creating a 3-guitar attack that certainly adds muscle to the songs. The band drove through 8 tracks all from its 2021 debut record.
Around 9:00, Myles Kennedy, Mark Tremonti, Brian Marshall, and Scott Phillips took the stage. The band launched into Pawns & Kings track “Silver Tounge” and it was clear we were in for a special night. From the first note, Kennedy reminded the crowd of why his is simply one of the best in the business. His voice was flawless throughout the evening. The first half of the set played like a Greatest Hits, touching on a number of albums. A highlight was Kennedy on guitar and Tremonti on vocals for the classic “Burn It Down” off of the debut One Day Remains.
After “Cry of Achilles”, Kennedy came out with an acoutsic guitar for a solo version of the beautiful “Watch Over You”. He then passed acoustic guitar duties to Tremonti for “In Loving Memory”. Hearing those two songs, stripped down, back-to-back created a powerful moment and a true highlight of the night. Tremonti took the mic again for “Waters Rising” before a stunning version of the sure-to-be classic “Pawns & Kings”. The raw energy of the crowd carried the band through the rest of the set, featuring “Isolation”, “Metalingus”, and an encore of “Broken Wings” and “Rise Today”.
While the club-style setup clearly led to an energy that fed all three bands, one can’t help but wonder how a band as insanly talented as Alter Bridge was playing the smaller version of the venue. Led by one of the best vocalists in rock and one of the genre’s most underrated guitarists, this band deserves the arena spotlight, however judging by the crowd reaction and the smiles on each member’s face, Alter Bridge wouldn’t have it any other way.