Florida rockers Alter Bridge’s latest release, Live at the O2 Arena + Rarities, comes out in a variety of formats on Napalm Records. The live album, recorded during their 2016 headlining show at London’s O2 Arena, comprises two CD’s and features a set spanning their entire career. The third disc features eleven songs which were all either previously unreleased or given a very limited release in foreign special-edition album versions.
Formed in 2004 by members of Creed in conjunction with singer Myles Kennedy (The Mayfield Four), Alter Bridge have put out five studio albums so far. The tracklisting for the live album draws from all five, but pulls most heavily from the Orlando group’s second record, Blackbird, and 2016’s The Last Hero. The sound quality is great despite having been recorded in such a large venue, and the nineteen-song set features all the hits you’d expect, capturing Kennedy in extraordinarily fine form.
The rarities CD is a gem fans will doubtless appreciate: a full-length album whose songs are as strong as those which did make it onto previous studio albums. ‘Cruel Sun’ is a slow, soulful song on which Kennedy sings, “As we fight our fathers’ wars, we don’t know what we’re dying for.” The song was recorded during the sessions for One Day Remains, Alter Bridge’s debut, and how it didn’t make the cut is a mystery. ‘Solace’, also from the One Day Remains sessions, is melodically in the same vein but takes a more hopeful view on the future. “I pray my days will bring me solace and I’ll have faith, I’ll find a way to a better tomorrow than today”, Kennedy sings, and delivers his strongest vocal performance of the album.
The standard version of Live at the O2 Arena + Rarities is a 3-CD set, but limited versions with bonus content will also be released. For completist fans, the 4-LP version with its accompanying documentary may be of interest. For the casual fan, however, the standard 3-CD version should be ample. Sometimes live albums and compilations can feel self-indulgent, but Live at the O2 Arena + Rarities provides a good overview of Alter Bridge’s career and a snapshot of a band whose live performance is at its peak