Shinedown- London Roudhouse- 8/02/12
[This my first attempt at a live review, so any critiques are very welcome here. Also I realise I lack any pictures which prove I was there but my camera has decided to do walkies somewhere. I was there though, really.]
After what seems like hours queuing outside in the freezing cold, eventually the doors open to allow us to queue for a further age or two. It’s the return or American rockers Shinedown we are waiting for; the first date on their UK tour and later on, according to the front-man Brent Smith on stage, the first place they chose to play since recording the brand new album Amarylis. Arena headliners in their home country, Shinedown’s popularity over here is not quite as big, as the size of the Roundhouse proves, but they are on a steady rise in the UK and the reaction from some is very euphoric. At this stage above the guys are undertaking meet and greets in view of those of us who chose not to invest; and once these finish they move past the shrieking, hysteric masses they met just previously...to enter the venue at our level to no reaction whatsoever, but this may be as I’m the only one who appeared to see them, therefore I am claiming that wave from Brent was for me and me alone!
Eventually we are allowed to the stage area, and kudos to the stage staff that it is not long at all until opening act, Brummie rockers Liberty Lies [3/5] kick off proceedings, nor is there a huge wait between any of the acts. Undoubtedly youthful but unashamedly confident, these lads put on an infectiously fun show and manage to get much of the ever growing crowd jumping; sadly their songs are not the most memorable and are quickly forgotten by the time Halestorm [4/5] arrive. Halestorm play like their livelihoods depend on it and have pretty much the whole crowd gripped from start to finish. This is such a confident showing that you seriously have to remind yourself that these guys are not headlining the show. Front woman Lizzy Hale puts on an especially great performance and comes across much grittier in the live scene than on record. Drummer Arejay seems to be trying to steal the show from his sister with a very charismatic performance behind the kit, on the kit, through the kit, wherever the hell he wanted to be really. A drum solo (no surprises there) that includes the entire band still was a unique touch as well, before the band finishes and leaves the entire place with grins on their mugs.
Grins only widened further when Shinedown [4/5] make it to the stage. Kicking off with the title track from previous album The Sound Of Madness the entire place is moving as we are pummelled with hit after hit. Other than the inclusion of three brand new tracks (one of which is first single ‘Bully’, which does sound a lot better live admittedly) this is quite a safe set with very few surprises, other than the really unexpected but very welcome cover of ‘Simple Man’ (a song the band had previously said would not be played again because of its association with an ex member) played simply by Brent and guitarist Zach Myers with an acoustic guitar, which proves a very moving rendition. Since the last time I saw this band live way back at Download Festival in 2009 it seems Zach has come on leaps and bounds as a player and as a showman, his playing tonight clean and tight, and several times throughout the night he goes centre stage and seems to try to wrestle the show from Brent.
However, like at any Shinedown show it is Brent who will be most remembered, and he too appears to have improved hugely on stage. Before, between songs, he could verge too far towards preaching to the crowd, tonight however he is completely heartfelt and believable, and in the songs you know he means and bleeds EVERY word he sings, ‘Second Chance’ being a great example. When he asks the crowd to fulfil the band’s dream of having the crowd singing back so loud they can’t hear themselves play, you can feel the crowd’s hearts being tugged at before they dutifully oblige. Since the last time I saw these guys, Brent has developed in to one of the most genuinely thankful and heartfelt front-men around. The new album should see this band get even bigger over here, perhaps eventually pushing to arena status, and with a visibly vast improvement as a live band, fully deservedly so.