Review & Photography by Greg Hamil for MPM
What better way to get acquainted with the Riviera Theatre in Chicago, than attending an Alter Bridge concert!
The Riviera Theatre was built in 1917 as a movie theater. In 1986, it was transformed into a nightclub and has become one of Chicago’s great concert venues hosting many great bands.
Kicking off the show tonight is Red. Formed in 2002 by brothers Anthony and Randy Armstrong along with Michael Barnes. Three of them have been the core of the band with various others filling in on drums and keyboards through the years. Currently touring with them on drums is Brian Medeiros. Over the years Red has released 8 albums, including the 2009 album “Innocence and Instinct” which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Gospel Album.
Red walks on stage to some ominous sounding music. Anthony breaks into a slow guitar riff that comes to a sudden halt. After a couple seconds of silence, Michael breaks into a long growl to open the song “Infidel” from the 2020 album “Declaration”. Anthony and Randy crisscross the stage encouraging the crowd to clap and sing along, getting that exact response.
Next up was “Death of Me” from the 2009 album “Innocence & Instinct”. The opens with a recorded keyboard intro, but quickly hits hard and heavy on the guitar and bass and a super-fast drum beat that gets the headbangers in the crowd going full force. Randy joins Michael on the chorus singing a perfect harmony.
The pace slows every so slightly with “Faceless” from the 2011 album “Until We Have Faces”. With still heavy guitar riffs and pounding bass drums, Michael’s vocals are softer but very precise.
Going back to the beginning, the band breaks into “Breathe Into Me” from their 2006 debut album, “End of Silence”. Again, Michael’s vocals are on point, while Randy joins in on the chorus with perfect harmonies. The crowd sings along with arms waving above their heads.
The lights dim and eerie music pours through the speakers, slow growing louder. The stage suddenly goes from dark to light with first hard chords and pounding bass! Michael let’s out a long sustained scream as they break into “Feed The Machine” from the 2011 album “Until We Have Faces”. By far, the heaviest song of the night for Red, this fulfills their duty in getting the crowd ready for the next two bands.
The final song for Red is their hit “Breathe Into Me”, from the “End of Silence” album. This is probably the best mix of all their sounds. From the heavy guitars and pounding bass, to a heavy drum beat. Michael flawlessly transitions from easy melodic vocals to thunderous growls. This ends their set and as they end their night, they thank all the fans for the support on this tour which is their last with Alter Bridge on this leg of the tour. But the crowd seems to be pleased with the performance and are warmed up for what is to come!
SET LIST: Infidel – Death of Me – Faceless – Already Over – Feed The Machine – Breathe Into Me
Next to hit the stage is Mammoth WVH featuring Wolfgang Van Halen, son of the late Eddie Van Halen and actress Valerie Bertenelli. Wolfgang filled in on bass for Van Halen until they disbanded. In 2013, he joined Tremonti playing bass as well, and stayed on to record Tremonit’s 2013 album, “Cauterize” and the 2016 album, “Dust”.
In between playing for Van Halen and Tremonti, Wolfgang embarked on a solo project called Mammoth, which was the first version of Van Halen with Eddie Van Halen on vocals. His self-titled debut album was released in 2021 with Wolfgang playing all instruments and singing all vocals.
On tour Wolfgang hands the vocals/guitar/keyboards and is joined on stage by Frank Sidoris on guitar, Jon Jourdan on guitar, Ronnie Ficarro on bass, and Garret Whitlock on drums.
The lights dim in the theater and on stage as Mammoth WVH walks on stage. As the band plays a little riff as blue lights slowly come up, Wolfgang steps to the microphone and says “Chicago! Are you ready to have some fun! Then let’s go!” And with that they transition into a slow riff, that slowly builds in intensity as they break into “Mammoth” as the first song of the evening.
With any pause in between, the catchy opening riff of “Mr. Ed” brings the crowd to their feet. With both guitarists providing background vocals, Ronnie come to the front and encourages the crowd to clap along. This was probably the most “Van Halen” sounding song of the evening.
The next song was “Epiphany”. The song begins with hard and heavy drum beat, but is also a slower song than the first two. Wolfgang is on keyboards for this, with Ficarro once again getting the crowd to clap along. Wolfgang almost sounds like he is narrating a story, rather than singing. This was a very powerful touch.
The first catchy riffs of the next song ring out with the drums almost playing off beat. “Stone” is a slower song with a really nice groove and great harmonies between Wolfgang and Frank.
The band takes a few minutes to catch their breath as Wolfgang tells a story about how “Think It Over” was his dad’s favorite song. There are a lot of catchy riffs and a beat that had the crowd dancing. This song had almost a pop/rock feel to it.
Next, Wolfgang explains that the song “Distance” is the first song he wrote. Wolfgang starts the vocals singing very softly while Jon plays along on the acoustic guitar. The sound builds throughout and fades as it comes to an end with Wolfgang singing the final lines a cappella.
Red lights begin to flash on and off as the band begins to play a much heavier “You’re to Blame”. Vocals are split between Wolfgang and Frank. As Wolfgang plays the solo, Frank and Ronnie come to the front of the stage standing back to back which gets a big rise out of the crowd.
Wolfgang thanks everyone for coming out to the show tonight and announces that this is also Mammoth WVH’s last show on this leg of the Alter Bridge tour as well. The band plays a heavy intro and breaks into the final song of the night, “Don’t Back Down”. This brings the entire crowd to it’s feet as Wolfgang belts out the lyrics and they sing along. The band comes to the front of the stage for a final bow to a thunderous response from a very appreciative crow.
SETLIST: Mammoth – Mr. Ed – Epiphany – Stone – Think it Over – Distance – You’re To Blame – Don’t Back Down
Now it is time for Alter Bridge. Formed in 2004, the band consists of Myles Kennedy on vocals/guitar, Mark Tremonti on guitar/vocals, Brian Marshall on bass, and Scott Phillips on drums
Wasting no time, the band get the crowd jumping with “Silver Tongue from the new “Pawns & Kings” album., Myles’ vocals are spot on, and Mark plays a screaming solo as only he knows how. Of course, done in his traditional way with one foot up on the monitor. The crowd roars as the song ends.
Alter Bridge picks up the pace even more as they break into “Addicted to Pain”. Marshall is at the front of the stage, crouched down as he plays. Smoke canons go off bringing the harsh red lights down to a glow.
Scott’s drum beat and Myles’ opening notes get the crowd clapping as they play “Ghost of Days Gone By”. As the tempo of the song increases, Myles, Brian, and Mark come together at mid-stage and stand side by side as Mark plays a screaming lead guitar lick that has the crowd going out of their minds.
Time to slow things down as the band plays “Broken Wings”. This is a chance for Myles to rest a little as he sings in a slow and emotional manner. Spot lights shine on a disco ball that reflects on the crowd who are waving their arms and lighting up their cell phones.
Next, the band plays “The Other Side”. It begins with a very ominous guitar riff and is shortly followed by a pounding drum beat. Myles vocals are on point and Mark’s solo is spot on. By coincidence, this is the same night as WWE’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view and this is the song that is used by Judgement Day as their entrance music.
Myles introduces Mark and announces that Mark will be taking over on vocals for the next song which is “Burn It Down”. This slows the pace down quite a bit. Mark’s vocals are much deeper, but just as “on point” as Myles’. There is a little bit of a role reversal on this one as Myles plays the lead solo. As he plays his solo, he closes his eyes and throws his back; and you can tell he is really feeling the emotion of the music.
We are back to the hard core as the pounding intro to “Cry of Achilles” begins. Myles begins to clap and tells the crowd to “get your hands in the air”. Back and forth guitar riffs and pounding rhythms were incredible as was Mark’s solo.
“Sin After Sin” is from the latest album, “Pawns & Kings”. A very moody style brings the crowd through several ups and downs. Mark’s solo is amazing and probably is best of the night.
Now is time to slow things down as everyone leaves the stage except for Myles. He now has an acoustic guitar and begins strumming the opening for “Watch Over You”. As he begins singing, he smiles as the crowd sings along very loudly. He even pulls away from the microphone to let the crowd sing on their own and it seemed like everyone was happy to oblige.
Still with his acoustic guitar, Myles is joined on stage by Mark to perform “In Loving Memory” which is a tribute to Mark’s late mother. Again, the crowd takes over on vocals a couple times which brings a smile to both performers faces.
All members of the band back on stage now, they begin to play “Blackbird” which gets a loud pop from the crowd. Mark’s solo gave me goosebumps and Myles’ vocals were bone-chilling. Myles even brought the song to a close with his own solo.
Myles steps to the microphone to announce that the next song is “Stay” which will be sung by Mark. Myles states that he appreciates having two breaks in this particular show to rest his vocals chords. Mark seems happy to oblige. It opens with a melodic riff as the rest of the band joins in. A more upbeat song with a pop feel. But the vocals are tremendous and the crowd clapped along and bobbed their head to the easy beat.
Next is the title track to their most recent release “Pawns & Kings”. A heavy beat and heavy vocals from Myles has the crowd going crazy again. Mark crosses the stage and joins Brian as they face each other like they are having some kind of bass vs guitar battle.
As “Pawns & Kings” ends, they transition straight into “Isololation” with a rapid drum beat and strobes that almost render you dizzy. Myles belts out the lyrics with Mark on backing vocals. The crowd reacts with fists pounding in the air as both Myles and Mark acknowledge the crowd’s enthusiasm.
Myles introduces Scott Phillips on drums, as Scott breaks into the opening beat of Metalingus which is personally the song I have been waiting for all night! Being a big WWE fan, it is instantly recognizable as the entrance music for WWE Superstar “Edge”. The pounding drums, the insane guitar riffs, smoke canons going off, and the crowd losing their minds; this was the climax of the entire night!
Back for the encore, Myles asks “Are you ready to “Rise Today” to a huge pop from the crowd. The crowd claps and sings along, which brings another back and forth between Myles and the crowd where he smiles and the crowd takes over. As the music dies out, the rest of the guitar picks are thrown out, along with some drum sticks. Myles announces that this is the last night of the first leg of their U.S. tour, but that they will be back out on the road after a couple weeks off with Sevendust in support.
SETLIST: Silver Tongue – Addicted to Pain – Ghost of Days Gone By – Broken Wings – The Other Side – Burn It Down – Cry of Achilles – Sin After Sin – Watch Over You – In Loving Memory – Blackbird – Stay – Pawns & Kings – Isolation – Metalingus – Rise Today