JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

August 20, 2011
State Fair - St. Louis
Sedalia, MO USA
Review by Phyllis Kempker
Photos by Phyllis Kempker

Carnival Of Madness

The Missouri State Fair saw Mother Nature stage its own ‘carnival of madness' production two days prior to the actual tour, when destructive winds descended upon the fairgrounds. Knocking out power, toppling campers and downing numerous tents, the fair was closed for several hours the next day as the facility was cleaned up. When the real deal finally arrived Saturday evening, the appropriate ‘madness' was restored.

The four-hour extravaganza began with Atlantic recording artist Emphatic. Touring behind an appropriately title album, Damaged, the Omaha, Nebraska rockers created a high energy storm that electrified the crowd .The manner in which this band bounced around the stage delivering one hard charging song after another, you forgot that Black Stone Cherry wasn't on the bill tonight. Band members even took photo ops with the audience before, and after their set, further endearing themselves to those watching the show. This is definitely one rocking outfit to take note of in the future.

With Black Stone Cherry missing in action because of a prior commitment, Adelita's Way took the stage. These rockers wasted little time whipping the Pepsi Grandstand crowd into frenzy-like fashion. This band has literally lived on the road the past two years, and those travels have certainly paid off. Well, it has paid off in every position but lead guitar. Robert Zakaryan is now the third musician to man that spot taking over for the departed Creighton Biggs, who took over for founding member Chris Iorio. I'm sure there's an interesting story in-between the lines that will come out one day, but this particular evening, it was the music that was doing all the talking. "Invincible", "Last Stand" and the group's current hit single "Sick", where especially well-received.

Next up was Creed's superior alter ego, Alter Bridge. As everyone knows, this band features three of the founding members of superstar band - guitarist Mark Tremonti and the rhythm section of bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips. The real difference here is the addition of the versatile Myles Kennedy. Without a doubt, he's a great rock vocalist, probably one of the best in the world today. His band mates obviously feel the same way. When it came time for Alter Bridge to take the stage, a lone red spotlight rest squarely on Kennedy's silhouette, as the band silently slipped on stage during the intro to "Slip to the Void" off of last year's AB III. From that moment on, it was nothing but in your face rock and roll.

Kennedy's vocal range is unique, and that's putting it mildly. His commanding stage presence allows the rest of the band to concentrate on the music, and now, after their third album, the dividends of this arrangement are paying off. "Ghosts of Days Gone By" has been rapidly climbing the charts, and the audience responded in kind. Other highlights from the set included "Watch Over You" and the catchy "Metalingus." Of course no Alter Bridge set would be complete without Tremonti's guitar masterpiece, "Ties That Bind". Kennedy also paid tribute to slain guitarist Darrell Abbott, who would have celebrated his 45th birthday. Mix in the band's other mainstream hit, "Isolation", and the band's latest hit "Rise Today", and you have a magnificent ending to the band's "hour of power" stage performance.

Theory of a Deadman had its job cut out for them coming on after the blistering set by Alter Bridge. To the band's credit, they worked their ass off to win over the crowd. The band kicked things off with "Gentlemen" from their recently released album, The Truth Is. They followed that with "Got it Made" from Scars and Souvenirs. The 2008 breakout album for TOAD would make up half of the 12-song set.

Highlights of the set included their current smash hit "Low Life", the tongue-in-cheek satire "Bitch is Back" as well as "Santa Monica" from 2003's Gasoline. The only head-scratching moment of the night was TOAD's inclusion of J.J.Cale's classic, "Cocaine" in their set. Let's face it, Eric Clapton owns the song. It was a waste of time for the band to even attempt to make it their own when they have enough material of their own to play.

All in all, it was a great night for music. The thousands in attendance got a little bit of everything from the four participating groups this evening. And the best news of all - Mother Nature cooperated completely.