TVD Live Shots:
Alter Bridge, Skillet,
and Dirty Honey at MECU Pavilion, 9/22

On September 22, Alter Bridge and Skillet kicked off their co-headlining, “Victorious Sky” tour at Baltimore, Maryland’s MECU Pavilion, with young rock upstarts Dirty Honey in the supporting role.

Leading off was California’s Dirty Honey (vocalist Marc Labelle, guitarist John Notto, bassist Justin Smolian, and drummer Corey Coverstone). With only an EP under their belts, they’ve already rubbed elbows this year with Slash on his tour with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators as well as made the rounds of the summer festivals. While the band’s sound will likely remind fans of anyone from Zeppelin to Guns ‘n’ Roses to current rock saviors Rival Sons, it’s clear they are not out to mimic anyone. Rather, during their six-song set, they demonstrated that they’ve arrived to carry the torch of their classic rock forebearers, but in their own young and modern way. It was the third time I’d seen Dirty Honey; they keep getting better.

Coheadliner and Christian rock stalwarts Skillet excited the crowd with their super high energy and exhilarating set. I’ll admit to being unfamiliar with Skillet; the term “Christian rock” makes the agnostic in me bristle and run for the hills. I like my rock and roll dark, dirty, and demon sprinkled, with squeezed lemons my preferred imagery.

However, Skillet’s style goes over well live as their songs are melodic and uplifting, the band members charismatic and skilled musicians. It’s great fun to watch and rock out to, especially when vocalist John Cooper strapped on what could only be described as fire extinguishers to his arms and blasted water vapor in the air, or when Seth Morrison and Korey Cooper got lifted on risers. Drummer Jen Ledger smiled for my camera as she sang and wailed on the drums. They were terrific.

The band is touring in promotion of their new album Victorious; the set list included the title track from this album, inspired by those suffering from depression. Other entries include new track “Legendary” and clear fan favorite “Hero,” the latter being the only time during the show it became very clear this was a Christian rock set, as Cooper hat tipped Jesus and the crowd waved their hands in the air.

Alter Bridge is on the road promoting Walk the Sky, which isn’t being released until October; in the meantime it’s generating quite a bit of positive buzz. The setlist naturally featured “Blackbird,” but also a few songs from the new album, including “Wouldn’t You Rather” and “Pay No Mind,” a total ass kicker that’s found a permanent spot on my playlist of favorite songs.

The combination of loud guitars and Myles Kennedy’s incredible voice is like an aural Jack and Coke: smooth and may possibly lead to bad decisions later. Kennedy mentioned he woke up “sick as a dog” that morning; you wouldn’t have known it otherwise as he turned in his usual flawless vocal performance although he got a break when Mark Tremonti took over lead vocals for “Waters Rising.” Getting to shoot Mark Tremonti from the photo pit, mere inches away, was a total treat. As fans already know, dude’s a beast and it was a pleasure to observe his skill and intensity up close.

An incredible performance by all band members, including bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips, it made me want to eye airfare to catch them in Europe this fall. I’ll own up to being very late to the Alter Bridge party. I spent too much time remembering its connection to Creed, a band I did not like, and not enough time appreciating the fact that it’s a different animal. It took getting doses of human gateway drug Myles Kennedy in other settings (with Slash as well as his solo work) to get over it. Better late than never.

The “Victorious Sky” tour continues through October 25th.




Dirty Honey Setlist:
Break You
Down the Road
When I’m Gone
Rolling 7s

Skillet Setlist:
Feel Invincible
Not Gonna Die
You Ain’t Ready
Whispers in the Dark
Awake and Alive
Back From the Dead
The Resistance

Alter Bridge Setlist:
Wouldn’t You Rather
Buried Alive
Pay No Mind
Rise Today
Ghost of Days Gone By
Waters Rising
Addicted to Pain
In the Deep
Cry of Achilles
Open Your Eyes

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