Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry and Theory Of A Deadman @ Newcastle Metro Radio Arena, November 26 2011

Alter Bridge unleashed their full arena show on a frenzied Newcastle Arena – and brought two of the best support acts ever along for the ride. 

The evening kicked off with Theory Of A Deadman – the Canadian crew who mix post-grunge with alt-rock and country to create one of the most identifiable counds around.

Featuring Tyler Connolly (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Dave Brenner (rhythm guitar), Dean Back (bass) and Joey Dandeneau (drums) the quartet clearly sensed an opportunity to showcase their talents to a growing crowd.

And with new album The Truth Is causing quite a stir, The Bitch Came Back drew warm applause from those canny enough to roll in early.

Of course the night would not have been complete without live standards Lowlife and Bad Girlfriend – with other standout tracks including All Or Nothing and Hate My Life.

One of the memorable highlights was when the band began playing Paradise City – only for Connolly to joke that they’d have to stop because Axl still hadn’t turned up!

TOAD weren’t nearly as heavy as their label mates to follow but the standard had been set on a night when a little inter-Roadrunner rivalry went a long, long way.

Next up were Black Stone Cherry and the famous line ‘Well you can’t judge a book just by looking at the cover’ has got to be the most apt slogan for any band, anywhere.

Celebrating their 10th anniversary the US favourites rocked the place with singer Chris Robertson on a personal mission to out-perform his fellow vocalists.

For many of the unconverted the stunning sound booming out of BSC’s under-pressure PA was a totally unexpected pleasure. For those in the know this was the reason Roberston and co. have become one of the biggest draws on the live music scene.

The band starred on the Download main stage this summer and have picked up a huge UK following – many of whom showed their support on Tyneside.

Often sounding like The Black Crowes with balls, BSC are consummate storytellers and their songs often deliver a familiar message.

Lonely Train is one of these songs and a modern rock classic while Things My Father Said retains its place in the setlist on emotive effect alone.

Soul Creek, Peace is Free, Blame It On The Boom Boom and In My Blood were all included as a band with three fine records under its belt delivered a confident and uber-cool set.

But if you weren’t there for BSC then Alter Bridge were the big-hitting main event. And as a result there was a collective sigh of disappointment that Myles Kennedy’s vocals constantly suffered in the face of a big bass sound too high on the mix.

That said AB are, usually, the masters of live gigs. And once the gremlins were sorted Kennedy sounded great and it was business as usual for the US stars.

A heady mix of melodic heavy rock – leaning heavily on everyone from Led Zeppelin to Black-era Metallica and Guns N Roses to Soundgarden – has been honed to perfection over the years and ABIII, the band’s latest album, highlights a steady progression.

Blackbird was the song of the night and Kennedy played Watch Over You and Wonderful Life during what can only be described as an amazing acoustic performance.

Kennedy – already bagged by Slash and feted by many more of rock’s biggest names – has one of the best voices in the business and Newcastle was ultimately treated to another masterclass in leading from the front.

One of the highlights of the night was the guitar duel between Kennedy and lead guitarist Mark Tremonti – that also included a guest appearance by Nuno Bettencourt (who was playing as Rihanna’s guitarist the following night). It was clearly too good an opportunity to miss for all three men.

This had to be seen to be believed – an amazing performance which culminated in all of the other band’s guitarists joining in at the end! Guitar heaven and, if you missed it, rock hell!

Diane Goodrum