The line wrapping around the perimeter of History on a brisk Saturday evening, The Alter Bridge Pawns And Kings tour with Mammoth WVH, draws in a sold-out crowd. Fans adorning Alter Bridge t-shirts and leather jackets pushed towards the front of the stage as the doors opened promptly at 7 pm, wanting to claim the perfect spot for the night.
Alter Bridge – Mammoth WVH
History, Toronto – 11 February 2023
Words and Photography: Taylor Cameron
The North American tour follows the Pawns And Kings European leg, which closed out 2022. The show in London’s O2 Arena saw MetalTalk describe Alter Bridge as giving “yet another stylish performance that absolutely reaffirms their rightful place as the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll royalty,” while Mammoth WVH were “like a breath of fresh air, marking that perfect marriage of stylish melodious guitar-driven music that brings a novel approach and rightful confirmation that rock music is very much here to stay.” You can read our coverage of that show, including interviews with each band, at https://www.metaltalk.net/tag/pawns-and-kings-tour.
Back for the second time in under a year, fans cheered excitedly as Mammoth WVH took the stage, kicking off the night at 8 pm. Opening the set with the guitar-driven track Mammoth, those present were immediately captivated by Wolfgang Van Halen’s melodic and powerful vocals.
His band of talented musicians (Frank Sidoris – Guitar, Jon Jourdan – Guitar, Ronnie Ficarro – Bass, Garrett Whitlock – Drums) followed in tow to help bring Mammoth WVH’s 2021 debut album to life. Swiftly moving into the fan favourite, Mr. Ed, the crowd sang along loudly with their horns high in the air.
“What’s going on, Toronto?” Wolfgang asked the enthusiastic crowd, a roar of cheers filling the room as he made his way over to the keyboard set up on his left, jumping into Epiphany. Mammoth WVH are known for creating their sound completely live, with no tracks used, producing a raw sound that has their set ranked high.
An emotional wave flows over the crowd as Wolfgang introduces the track Think It Over as his father’s favourite, following it up with Distance, a song written in tribute to his late father, Eddie Van Halen. “Thank you, Toronto”, Woflgang smiles. “You know I’ve been coming here since I was fifteen with my dad. I spent my twenty-first birthday here, not that it meant anything,” Canada’s drinking age being nineteen. The crowd laughed.
“You guys are always so great. I promise I will continue to come back every time.” Closing out the set with the heavy groove of Don’t Back Down, Mammoth WVH finished on a high note. Only playing a forty-five-minute set, however, they pumped up the crowd perfectly, ready for Alter Bridge to tear down the roof.
Mammoth WVH delivered a superb set, the perfect choice of an opening act and with their second album in progress, the world is keenly awaiting the results of Wolfgang’s skilful efforts. “I knew I could play the instruments,” Wolfgang told MetalTalk, “but I didn’t know if I’d be able to create something cohesive as its own project. So it was really a personal challenge at first. But now that I’ve proved to myself that I can do it.” He sure can.
As 9:15 hit the clock, the house lights went down, the crowd erupting into loud cheers as Alter Bridge took the stage. Kicking off their set with Silver Tongue, a track fro of their latest release, Pawns and Kings.
Myles Kennedy had the crowd in the palm of his hands within seconds, his voice soaring throughout the venue. Kennedy’s unique vocal tone, paired with the roaring guitar parts played by his partner in crime, Mark Tremonti, are a match made in rock ‘n’ roll heaven.
Shifting gears into an earlier Alter Bridge track, Addicted To Pain, the energy stayed high. The hardcore fans immediately recognized the song from the heavy guitar riff and a thumping drum beat that starts it off.
Halfway through their set, Kennedy took an acoustic guitar as the rest of the band left the stage. “You guys are great,” Kennedy smiled. “Usually, when a show is going this great, it’s usually because the crowd thinks we’re someone else”, he laughed. The crowd began to chant “Alter Bridge,” letting Kennedy know that there was no mistake about who they were there for.
Stripping it back, Kennedy played This Is War, showcasing his guitar skills and raw vocals before inviting Tremonti back to the stage to perform a song Tremonti wrote about his mother, In Loving Memory. A breathtaking performance delivered by both talented musicians.
Bringing back out bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips, Tremonti began to play the haunting melody of their 2007 track Blackbird, the sold-out crowd singing along to every word Kennedy sang.
Closing out the set with Metalingus, a track from their debut album, they left the crowd wanting more. With “one more song” echoing throughout the venue, the band re-emerged from the darkness, answering the audience’s prayers.
Performing two more songs, Rise Today and Open Your Eyes, everyone did not want the night to end. All members stepped towards the middle of the stage, taking a bow and throwing out a few guitar picks to be caught by some lucky fans.
Both Mammoth WVH and Alter Bridge shook the roof off History, leaving everyone in the room more than satisfied. These bands are truly on fire and are delivering a raw rock ‘n’ roll show night after night.
This was a night of melodic hard rock at its finest, and it was unquestionable that Alter Bridge were no pawns. They were the kings of the night.