The Last Hero Tour started on January 21st and over the past 11 months Alter Bridge has been all over the world supporting the album. Now, the band was starting off the very last leg of the tour in what’s considered the band’s hometown Orlando, FL. The band’s first leg would be at the House of Blues Orlando with All That Remains and Sons of Texas in support. I was fortunate enough to get access to photograph and review the show and needless to say I was more than excited. I had the opportunity to photograph them in April at Earthday Birthday 24. I arrived at House of Blues early for an interview with Mark Morales, vocalist for Sons of Texas. The line was already wrapped around the building and by the time I got back to enter the venue an even bigger crowd was waiting to get in. Once inside there was a large group of media waiting to photograph the bands. This was going to be a memorable show.
First up was the band from McAllen, TX named Sons of Texas. The band solidified the lineup in 2013 and was discovered by Josh Wilbur after seeing a YouTube video of the band. They signed with Razor & Tie and released their first album ‘Baptized In The Rio Grande’ in March 2015. The album received great reviews and charted into the top ten of Billboards US Hard Rock albums and onto the Billboard 200. This led the band to record a second album titled ‘Forged By Fortitude’ which was released on September 22nd. Tonight, Mark Morales (vocals), Mike Villarreal (drums), Nick “Rat” Villarreal (bass), Jon Olivarez (rhythm guitar), and Jes De Hoyos (lead guitar) were ready to rock the House of Blues crowd.
Sons of Texas say that they like to do things big like Texans do, and they weren’t kidding. The band came out rocking hard and had the crowd moving right away. Jon and Jes played like madmen on stage with energy-laden riffs. Nick’s bass work was just as heavy and he looked like he was enjoying the crowd’s energy with his smiles and grins. Mike’s hard-hitting drumwork was fast and reverberated off your body through the speakers. But, Mark’s vocals were better than on the recorded album. Mark has this energy that’s infectious and spread out through the crowd with every note he sang. And he includes this almost blues like to his vocals that just resonates well. Their setlist included “Baptized in the Rio Grande” and “Expedition to Perdition”. Sons of Texas showed the crowd not to underestimate them as they are a band on the rise.
All That Remains, the heavy metal band from Springfield, MA, was next to the stage. The band formed in 1998 but did not release their first album, ‘Behind Silence and Solitude’ until March 2002. They followed up with ‘This Darkened Heart’ in March 2004. When they released ‘The Fall of Ideals’ in July 2006 through Prosthetic Records it hit the Billboard 200 at #75 in week 1. The band was making good traction as the album was certified Gold and they were invited in 2007 to play Wacken Open Air and in November 2007 released their live album ‘All That Remains Live’. They would release five more studio albums, including the most recent, ‘Madness’, which was released April 28, 2017.Supa Dave from our local rock station WJRR came out to talk to the crowd before introducing All That Remains. Phil Labonte (vocals), Oli Herbert (lead guitar), Mike Martin (rhythm guitar), Aaron Patrick (bass), and Jason Costa (drums) were ready to rock House of Blues.
They opened with “The Last Time” from the 2010 album ‘For We Are Many’. It’s a great kick-off song with lots of energy, nice melodic guitar riffs, and strong vocals from Phil. The crowd recognized it and started bouncing and moshing along. They followed with the title track, “Madness”, from the 2017 album. It’s a different mix from prior songs as it starts heavy and then mellows before jumping back into the heaviness. It’s one of my favorite songs by the band because of the musical and vocal versatility. “This Probably Won’t End Well” from the 2015 album “The Order of Things” was next up. All That Remains was rolling from song to song and looking and sounding amazing.
The one thing I really loved about their performance, besides the great selection of songs they provided, was their interaction on stage with the fans. Aaron was singing along on stage to the crowd urging them to cheer them on. Oli’s guitar performances were stellar and his expressions were picture perfect. And of course, Phil’s singing was exceptional and getting the crowd energized comes easily for him. Their setlist also included “Hold On”, “Six”, and the Garth Brooks cover “Thunder Rolls”. Hearing it live was chilling to me as it is a great rock version of that famous country song. And their highlight moment was right at the end with a great mix of songs with “What If I Was Nothing?”, “The Calling”, and “Two Weeks”. All That Remains put on a phenomenal set for the crowd and got them even more riled up for the headliner.
Alter Bridge was formed in 2004 after the band Creed went on hiatus in 2003. Mark Tremonti (lead guitar), Brian Marshall (bass), and Scott Phillips (drums) got together to reform a new band and invited Myles Kennedy of The Mayfield Four to be their vocalist in June 2004. It was only a two months later that their debut album ‘One Day Remains’ was released in August 2004. The album peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200, was certified Gold, and sold 750,000 copies worldwide. The band’s popularity grew quickly as the single “Metalingus” was adopted by the WWE wrestler Edge as his theme song. They also had singles used in Madden 2005 and in the movie Elektra. They followed up with ‘Blackbird’ in October 2007. The album received excellent reviews and peaked at #13 on the Billboard 200. ‘ABIII’ was then released in October 2010. “Isolation” the first single would reach #1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Hot Rock Charts while the album peaked at #17 on the Billboard 200. The fourth studio album, ‘Fortress’, was released in September 2013. The album peaked at #12 on the Billboard 200. Their most current studio album, ‘The Last Hero’, was released on October 7, 2016. The album peaked at #8 on the Billboard 200. The band has toured worldwide and now were ready to kick off this tour at House of Blues Orlando.
The show started off with strobe lights as the band walked out on stage one at a time and then jumped into “The Writing on the Wall” from ‘The Last Hero’. Myles stood front and center singing and playing while Mark stood to his left quickly strumming out his riffs. Brian mostly stayed towards the back. They followed up with “Come to Life” from ‘Blackbird’ which that recognizable few guitar chords and then Myles’ high pitched vocals. The crowd was loving the performance so far and it was only the beginning of something wonderful. Scott led a rapid drumbeat up into “Farther Than The Sun” from ‘Fortress’ as their next song. Besides the great vocal work, the band meshes the guitars and bass beautifully and Scott’s drumwork is impeccable.
The band’s lighting was the best of the evening with some great bright white lights intermixed with red or orange background on their large symbol against the back wall of the stage. The band continued on with some great tunes from their catalog including “Addicted to the Pain”, “Ghosts of Days Gone By”, “Cry of Achilles”, which has some of the best instrumentals the band ever produced, “Ties That Bind”, “Crows on a Wire”, and “Waters Rising”. And then the band pulled at the heartstrings with Myles Kennedy performing “Watch Over You” from ‘Blackbird’ in a solo acoustic performance. It was hair-raising, haunting, and a breathtaking rendition. Mark then joined Myles on stage for another acoustic performance this time of “In Loving Memory” from ‘One Day Remains’. And this performance was two times better than the first. It reminded me of why I love their music.
Alter Bridge went on playing some of their best tracks including “Blackbird”, “Isolation”, “Fortress”, and “Metalingus”. When they performed “Metalingus” Myles gestured to the crowd to literally crouch down low when he brought his vocals low. The entire floor of House of Blues Orlando were crouched down or on their knees. And at the moment in the song when he brought the vocals high, he gestured for the crowd to get up and they all jumped to their feet and continued jumping. It was an amazing sight to see. And then finished with “Open Your Eyes”. The band did come back to encore with “Show Me a Leader” from ‘The Last Hero’ and “Rise Today” from ‘Blackbird’.
This was an amazing show to kick off the last leg of The Last Hero Tour. Sons of Texas, All That Remains, and Alter Bridge all delivered amazing performances. Alter Bridge is a band any fan must see live. If you’re lucky enough to have the band stopping through your town on this tour, do yourself a favor and go see this show. You will remember it forever.