Photos and Review by: Allyssa Arens
Venue: The Criterion, Oklahoma City, OK
Date: March 15, 2023
Fresh off the release of their latest album Pawns and Kings last October, Alter Bridge are in the midst of their second leg of the Pawns and Kings tour, bringing their blend of melodically heavy rock to venues across the US. On March 15, Oklahoma City was the lucky audience as the band rocked the faces off of that night’s visitors to The Criterion.
Kicking things off on a hard and heavy note were newcomers to the rock scene, Pistols At Dawn. The band originally formed in 2015, but their current lineup was not solidified until around 2019, with the quintet currently made up of Adam Jaffe on drums, Devin White and Will James on guitar, Sean Benham on bass, and Cris Hodges on lead vocals. Their blend of heavy yet very radio-ready rock made the most of their brief set time as they rocked their way through a short selection of songs from their 2019 self-titled release as well as 2022’s Ascension, closing with their latest single “Under the Surface”. Though the band said it was their first time in OKC, it definitely won’t be their last, as they are set to make another appearance in May while out with Ugly Kid Joe and Fozzy. If you’re coming out to the Pawns and Kings tour, make sure to get there early to catch Pistols At Dawn!
Next to take the stage was another newer act, although they are very quickly making a name for themselves, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I see them headlining some of these same venues within the next year or two. Mammoth WVH, the creative brainchild of none other than Wolf Van Halen (yes, son of Eddie Van Halen himself), kept the crowd energized as they shredded their way through selections from their eponymous 2021 debut, including “Mr. Ed”, “Epiphany”, “You’re to Blame”, and “Distance”, the latter of which was a unique electric rendition rather than acoustic due to some technical issues behind the scenes. Near the end of the set, Wolf also led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to his fiancee, Andraia, who was in the audience. The set closed with their hit single “Don’t Back Down”, and the venue was full of people singing and headbanging along. Throughout their set, it was clear that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, with Wolf continuing to honor the Van Halen name through his own projects while rightfully making a name for himself as well.
Finally, at around 9:00, Alter Bridge took the stage, and they did not disappoint as they played tracks from throughout their almost 20-year career. The band, made up of guitarist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall, drummer Scott Phillips, and vocalist/guitarist Myles Kennedy, are one of only a few bands to still have their full original lineup intact so many years later, and it’s clear that they have a special creative chemistry when they’re performing together, that hopefully will allow them to continue rocking together for years to come.
The set kicked off heavily with “Silver Tongue” from their latest release, followed by my personal favorite of theirs, 2013’s “Addicted to Pain”. They continued a heavier streak for a couple more tracks, such as “Ghost of Days Gone By”, “Holiday”, and “Broken Wings”.
A few songs in, Tremonti took over lead vocals while they performed “Burn It Down” from their 2004 debut One Day Remains, and it was awesome to hear that there are multiple talented vocalists in the group, although no one can compare to Myles’ unique tone. Later, Tremonti and Kennedy also stripped things back for a couple of songs as they performed “Watch Over You” and “In Loving Memory” before turning the amps back up to 11. The setlist was a good mixture of tracks from throughout the years, with the only album not represented being 2019’s Walk the Sky. This was my first time catching Alter Bridge live, and they blew me away with their talent and showmanship. Alter Bridge have perfected the art of blending shredding solos with more melodic and chill vibes, and they continue to prove their place as a force to be reckoned with within the rock scene, and I highly recommend checking them out if they’re coming to your area.
The current US run of the Pawns and Kings tour continues until April 1 in Highland, CA, then their third leg of the tour with support from Sevendust begins in May. All upcoming Alter Bridge tour dates can be found here.