April 6, 2012
House of Blues - Dallas
Dallas, TX USA
Review by David Huff
Photos by Trey Campbell
I learned a valuable lesson about music that had conveniently slipped my mind. Never, ever, let a single song define a band. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I did exactly that as I waited for Shinedown to walk out on stage before a packed house at the venerable House of Blues in Dallas.
Despite the fact this group was touring behind their fourth album, the recently released Amaryliss, I was convinced that Shinedown was nothing but a one-dimensional pop rock ensemble. Ironically, my perception of the group centered entirely on a particular tune written by lead singer Brent Smith. The song all but begged the listener to give themselves courage to face the unknown.
The song I am referencing is "Second Chance," the group's 2008 breakout single that to date has sold over two million copies. I've been addicted to that hit, and especially the lyrics, since I first heard it on the radio a few years ago. The tune sports one of my all time favorite lines, 'I'm not angry, I'm just saying / Sometimes goodbye is a second chance'. Brilliant in its simplicity and concept, I still can't get enough of this composition to this very day. Unfortunately, I let that one song cloud my opinion on just who and what Shinedown was all about. Imagine my surprise when Smith, guitarist Zach Myers, and the rhythm section of Eric Bass and drummer Barry Kerch, hit the stage rocking out hard to the track, "The Sound of Madness." Seriously, who in the hell was this band? Where was their pop rock ingenuity?
It would have helped had I taken the time to check out other compositions by Shinedown on YouTube other than hit the repeat button for "Second Chance." In fact, giving this band a second, or even third chance, was exactly the one thing I didn't do going into the evening's performance. After three consecutive rocked out tunes, my perspective on Shinedown had done a complete 360. By the time the group launched into its other masterpiece, "If You Only Knew", whatever preconceived notions I once had of this group all but vanished.
I was in complete awe of Brent Smith's vocal prowess. The mini-riser he performed off of center stage throughout the show actually made his performance behind the mic that more powerful. The sold-out crowd ate it up. Five of the first eight songs on this evening's set list were off the band's best selling recording to date, The Sound of Madness. Again, each tune rocked your socks off. The fillers spaced between these five rockers also turned up the decibels. They included two songs ("Enemies" and "Nowhere Kids") off of Amaryliss and "Save Me" from their 2005 effort, Us and Them.
I may have been clueless about Shinedown walking into the show this evening, but the audience gathered inside was not. They sang-a-long to every song and cheered the band constantly throughout their entire performance. You know there's something special going on during a show when every time you feel like leaving the building, the music pulls you back in. Again, although I was a neophyte to the sounds of Shinedown, by the time the group launched into the first of its four encore tunes, I was addicted. "Bully", "Skynyrd's "Simple Man", (brilliantly done by the way) and "Fly from the Inside" ended a great evening of hard-nosed rock and roll.
Again, to say I'm in awe of Brent Smith's vocal ability would be an understatement. I don't think there are enough adjectives around to describe how great a front man this singer truly is. The musicians responsible for bringing Smith's words to life also deserve kudos for their outstanding work. I may have been naïve going into this show on all things Shinedown, but I came out of the experience appreciating the gift of music this group had to offer. Yes, sometimes goodbye is indeed, a second chance.
Sound of Madness
Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)
If You Only Knew
The Crow and the Butterfly
Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
Fly From the Inside