It’s amazing the information that you can cull from the Internet these days. A quick click tells me that Alter Bridge have released 5 studio albums and 3 live albums to date, this being the third. Now that’s kind of a strange ratio to me: bit high on the live albums. I’m more used to seeing that with bands that have been around for a long time, and are now concentrating on touring and live albums as a pension fund increaser. Is that an unfair thing to have in my head as I listen to this for the first time? Maybe, but equally I will allow it to be disproved by a good performance.
Now I’ve only seen Myles Kennedy live once, when he was fronting for Slash (interestingly enough pretty much the same setlist as Made in Stoke which is one of my favourite live albums) and he did an amazing job, so that had already lifted my expectations. I have to say that the recording quality is everything that I would expect from a major live venue, and that Myles has all of the power and range that I know and love. “Blackbird” in particular showcases his vocals to perfection with an awesome display of control. The guitar work towards the end of the track can only be described as hauntingly good, sending shivers down my spine as it echoes through my speakers.
One negative, though, I can’t be sure whether this is a recording issue or because that’s the way the gig was: there doesn’t seem to be much interaction with the audience between tracks. During, yes, but then even the most inept of editors could hardly cut that out.
Alongside the live recording, there is also included a batch of “rarities”. Now normally I’d be able to tell you all about these, but as the record label only included some of them for me to listen to, I can’t describe the full package. And none of what I heard changes my long held belief: anything described as “rarities” or “bonus tracks” almost always means “something that you would only pay for if you are a completist, or it’s bundled with something else”.
So, good or bad overall? In a sense I don’t think it really matters. If you are a die-hard fan of Alter Bridge you will buy this. If not, I doubt you’d bother. For me personally it still comes down as a cynical attempt to milk the market for all it’s worth.