First up on tonight’s bill are New Zealand’s very own Like A Storm . Backed by moderate success in the US billboard charts and having touring with the likes of Staind and Drowning Pool, it totally makes sense to see LAS on a bill such as this. Trudging along with their big beefy riffs with little to offer in the originality department, if you like your chunky guitar tones and hooky melodic lines, these kiwis will happily tick that box for you.
On the furthest side of the spectrum, Gojira , right off the bat are not what you would call your typical meat and two veg metal band. Prolific in the polytechnic, the native Frenchmen are the chalk to Volbeat and Alter Bridge’s cheese. With spectacular mechanical precision, the tech-metal outfit are unequalled to any other in their craft. Opening with Toxic Garbage Island, the sheer might of this titanic track overflows the senses, sending a clear message that Gojira aren’t ones to tone down their sound for the occasion.
Blastbeating through the finer moments of their latest record Magma, including the lung draining The Cell and the brain leaking Silvera, vocalist/guitarist Joe Duplantier’s spine shuddering, gravely bark has the Motorpoint to its knees. A visually stunning representation of metal at its finest, bands like Gojira don’t come around often. Leaving dumbfounded jaws dropped, no other band at this moment in time could even begin to match their life-affirming performance. Arguably the most important band on the planet, those who seek to expand their tastes to more challenging territories, seek out
Which leaves Volbeat  with the impossible task of picking up where their support left off. For a band that might even get away with a Eurovision entry, Volbeat are your typical, all frills, no thrills band. Eagerly showcasing their recent album Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie, the Danes aren’t here to contest the norm by any means. Dipping from rockabilly to galloping metal is an interesting musical direction does come off a little cliché at times. Happily chugging along with their infectious hooks and failsafe toe tappers, it’s only when Napalm Death’s Barney Greenway decides to show up during Evelyn does our interest suddenly peak. A wink the Beyond Hell/Above album perhaps? Fuck only knows. Only a few songs earlier did a circle pit brake out for their rendition of Johnny Cash’s Ring Of Fire, so at this point we’re willing to believe anything. A little bewildered, we can’t quite put our finger on Volbeat. A perfect supplement to enhance anyone’s Friday night festivities. Shame it’s a Monday.
It’s a good thing their Danish counterparts took the hit Gojira dealt, or else Alter Bridge  would have had a real dilemma on their hands. Comprising a setlist mostly from The Last Hero, the band’s fifth and most recent release has all the trademarks of your usual Alter Bridge record. Melodic lines that drill themselves deep in your cerebellum, blistering solos and of course Myles Kennedy’s vocals that are cleaner than an angel’s underpants on laundry day. Incredibly digestible, it shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise that they’ve come to be one of the world’s major rock acts. More impressively, it only took them twelve years to achieve this status.
As far as their back catalogue goes, they have some of the most infectious songs on Earth. Barely into the second song, Come To Life is met by ecstatic enthusiasm that most bands will never see in their lifetime. By the halfway mark, there are instances of brilliance including a breath taking rendition of Blackbird, but we fail to see anything truly remarkable about this band that lives up to their hype. Seeing guitar virtuoso Mark Tremonti giving the audience a solid meaty punch to the ear hole is always a pleasure to witness, but this only goes so far in terms of musical sustenance. By no means are they lifeless plastic figures on stage, their integrity and charisma is delivered with the power of a hurricane. Chorus after infectious chorus, the audience are putty in their hands, making light work of the nation’s capital tonight.
Big hooks aside, one of the main issues that holds back tonight’s show is the overwhelming sense that this is unreservedly, bog standard arena rock. They have the light show, the thirty-foot screens and crowd chanting bangers by the album load. So why does this feel so bland? Not to taking anything after from the Alter Bridge boys, their ability to play to vastly larger audiences is second to none. Specifically knowing exactly what their fans want is their speciality, which they have down to a science that some bands in similar positions seem to lack. When all is said and done, there aren’t any features of exceptional note in Alter Bride’s arsenal that help them stand out from others on the arena circuit. Not bad, but by no means great.
Photo Credit: Syracuse Music Collective