The first time Alter Bridge found themselves on Irish shores, back in June 2017, they were already thirteen years deep into their career. Within the intimate setting of the Olympia Theatre, their Dublin debut became gig of the year material, followed by another at the same venue within a year. Throughout the intervening years, vocalist Myles Kennedy and guitarist Mark Tremonti have made repeat returns to Dublin with their respective projects. You might even say they like Dublin, as December 2022 saw A.B. play their largest Irish show to date. The 3-Arena on a bitter cold and snowy night. In the company of friends Halestorm, Mammoth W.V.H, and an arena full of fans.
Carving their own path as they emerged from the pandemic, Mammoth W.V.H gave an admirable account as the night’s opening act. Balancing songs such as “Think It Over” and “Distance” from their self-titled debut album, Wolfgang Van Halen and his entourage of stellar musicians had their learning curve accelerated early in their set. As Wolf’s guitar amp went for a smoke break, his sound cutting out entirely, crew members scrambled for a remedy. Wolf, remaining humble, if noticeably shaken, reached for as many variations of “it’s great to be here” as he could. When the issue was resolved, Wolf held on to his humility as he laughed at himself, having weathered the storm in style. Closing out a set that stands second only to his character on a night that won him many new fans in Dublin.
With her instantly recognisable voice that could shatter walls or hearts, singer Lzzy Hale of Halestorm commanded all eyes with a presence that cannot be taught. Based on the wild reaction of the audience, you could have mistaken Halestorm for headliners; their ten-song set felt like a headline show. Weaving newer favourites such as “The Steeple” and “Back From The Dead” with anthems including “I Miss the Misery”, they topped it all off with an always impressive, and at times hilarious drum solo from Arejay Hale. Giant, novelty-sized drumsticks never get old. Halestorm leaving its mark. Setting the bar for what was still to come.
One final and wildly efficient changeover later, Alter Bridge wasted no time as they launched into “Silver Tongue.” A song awarded ‘best guitar riff of 2022’. Featured on their new album, “Pawns and Kings”, the cover of which draped the back of the stage. A production of rotating lights, smoke cannons, and crystal-clear sound made for a set comprising of deep cuts and catalogue staples. From the thrilling chorus in “Addicted to Pain” to the ruthless shredding of “Isolation” Kennedy, Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips brought their best.
Which made the response of some sections of the audience curious. Perhaps it was the lack of intimacy the Olympia Theatre had created, or the absence of the seminal, singalong crowd favourite “Watch Over You”, but by the time the monster that is “Metalingus” came around, some of the participants seemed to falter. The experience suggesting bigger isn’t always better. However, the massive sendoff in “Open Your Eyes” and “Rise Today” brought the night to an end with a literal bang, arising from the band, their fans, and the explosions on stage.
As thousands poured out into the winter snow decorating the night sky, there was a shared feeling of a night well enjoyed. That Alter Bridge, Halestorm, and Mammoth W.V.H. are three of the hardest-working and most exciting acts in rock today. A tangible sense that 2022 had ended in celebration.