Album Review: ALTER BRIDGE- ‘Live From O2 Arena + Rarities’

I will be the first to admit I’ve never been a fan of albums with recorded live music. I just find that live music is better live. But, Alter Bridge‘s newest album, “Live from O2 Arena + Rarities” challenges that view completely. The first two disks span over an entire nineteen tracks of live music that showed me what an incredible band Alter Bridge is both in and outside of the studio.

“Live From the O2 Arena” was recorded during their promotional world tour for their previous album, “The Last Hero.” November 24th, 2016 was described by Blabbermouth as “One of the biggest moments of the bands career,” performing for 20,000 people at London’s O2 Arena. It is the band’s third live album release following 2010’s “Live From Amsterdam” and 2012’s “Live At Wembley.” The album is to be released through Napalm Records September 8th, 2017.The set features a total of 30 songs. “Live From O2 Arena” includes nineteen live tracks from the London concert and “Rarities” includes “Breathe,” previously a Best Buy exclusive; two never before released songs, and eight other tracks that were only available in Japan.

I’m a big fan of Myles Kennedy’s (vocals) interaction with their audience throughout the concert. Alter Bridge is a very fan driven band, bidding their goodbyes but adding another song to their show on three separate occasions after “Show Me A Leader,” “My Champion,” and “Rise Today.” Listening to each song proves who the audience was there for. Alter Bridge simply started playing their first song “Writing on the Wall.” They didn’t feel a need to announce who they were. Each member wasn’t even introduced until later in the show. The drummer (Scott Phillips) and bassist (Brian Marshall) got an energetic and rhythmic lead in in the fourteenth track and a favorite from the band, “Metalingus.” The guitarist (Mark Tremonti) sang alongside Myles in “Water Rising,” but isn’t even introduced as a member until the end of “Ties That Bind.” Any band that can command the attention of an audience like that so effortlessly has my respect. Kennedy had no difficulty getting fans to sing along loudly in “City of Achilles,” “Come to Life,” “Ghosts of Days Gone By,” and “Metalingus.” His acoustic solo “Watch Over You” brings a hush over the arena and can call on your emotions, even listening to it at home. Between each recording’s ability to replicate the crowd’s enthusiasm, and the mental imagery that comes with Myles’ egging them on, (you could just see him holding his microphone to the crowd to sing along to the chorus in “Isolation”) anyone can put their self right in the middle of the concert.

“Rarities” is an eleven track studio set that begins with “Breathe,” the Best Buy exclusive track from “The Last Hero.” It moves onto “Cruel Sun” and “Solace,” two tracks that were recorded during “One Day Remains,” but never released until “Rarities.” The remaining eight tracks were previously released only in Japan. Personally, my favorite from the studio album is a tie between “We Don’t Care At All” and “Never Borne to Follow.” “We Don’t Care At All” has that punk sound that I as an individual just genuinely enjoy. I like the introductory riffs and drum work. Besides that, you have to admit even the title is something relatable on those days. As for “Never Borne to Follow,” I find it offers a different sound than we get from the rest of the album. Myles uses a different vocal approach, and Tremonti uses more of a rhythm tactic to his usual lead guitar route. I actually find it suits them, though I’ll remain a fan of what they’re known for.
I can’t say for sure that “Live From O2 Arena” has changed my view of all live albums, but it is definitely something any fan can get excited about. And I believe it proves that Alter Bridge are a very talented band that I hope I’ll get to see soon.


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