When he spoke to The Spokesman-Review in December in advance of Alter Bridge’s sold-out show at the Knitting Factory, singer/guitarist Myles Kennedy expressed awe at the path his life had taken.
“There is not a day that goes by where I don’t realize that after doing this for a few decades that I still get to do this,” he said. “It’s a wonderful thing so I don’t take it for granted.”
He reiterated that Wednesday night at the Bing Crosby Theater, saying “This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’m going to play songs from the last 20 years of my lucky career.”
The world at large was introduced to Kennedy, who moved to Spokane as a child, through the Mayfield Four, a beloved Spokane-based quartet that released two albums, “Fallout” and “Second Skin,” before disbanding in 2002.
“Mars Hotel” was the first Mayfield Four tune on the set list and one Kennedy forgot the lyrics to at the very end of the song.
“That’s going to happen a lot tonight,” he said. “Trust me; I’m getting old.”
The Mayfield Four’s “Eden” and “White Flag” also made the set list, and when a fan yelled “Suckerpunch,” Kennedy obliged, easily playing a snippet of the Mayfield Four tune he said he wasn’t sure he even remembered.
Since his time with the Mayfield Four, Kennedy has perhaps become best known as the lead singer of Alter Bridge, a role he’s held since 2003. The band released its latest album, “The Last Hero,” in 2016.
After forgetting the lyrics to “Mars Hotel,” Kennedy motioned to the book of music he kept beside him during the sold-out show, which inspired him to tell a story about his time recording “AB III,” the third Alter Bridge record.
“It’s a dark record,” he said. “As we were writing the album, (bassist) Brian Marshall had a laptop and I insisted that he go to brendypugs.com,” a website that featured a livestream of a pen of pug puppies.
“That’s what I’d watch,” Kennedy said. “So metal, right?”
After tuning his guitar, Kennedy got back on track with Alter Bridge’s “Addicted to Pain.”
Throughout the show, Kennedy touched on nearly every Alter Bridge record, performing “Losing Patience,” “All Ends Well,” “Watch Over You” and encore “Rise Today.”
When he’s not working with Alter Bridge, Kennedy has managed to build quite the list of collaborators.
In 2008, he briefly worked with Led Zeppelin on songs that, as of today, haven’t been released, but, in a nod to his time with the band, Kennedy covered Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California.”
He also played the band’s version of “Travelling Riverside Blues,” originally by blues singer and musician Robert Johnson, before transitioning into “World on Fire,” a song he performs with one of his most prominent collaborators, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash.
Slash and Kennedy began working together on the former’s debut solo album with Kennedy co-writing and singing “Starlight,” which he performed at this show, and “Back from Cali.”
Kennedy joined Slash on tour in support of “Slash,” and Slash’s second and third solo albums, “Apocalyptic Love” and “World on Fire,” were credited to Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators.
Kennedy also performed “Standing in the Sun,” from “Apocalyptic Love,” early in the show.
Kennedy’s most recent endeavor, his debut solo album “Year of the Tiger,” was also featured prominently throughout the night.
From offstage, Kennedy began the show with “Devil on the Wall,” slowly making his way to centerstage as he sang.
Kennedy brought out “partner in crime” Tim Tournier to play “Haunted by Design” and, near the end of the show, the album’s title track.
“ ‘Year of the Tiger’ is about the year I lost my father,” Kennedy said before performing “Mother” live for the first time. “My mother really picked up the pieces. I’ll try not to mess it up, mom.”
“Blind Faith,” from “Year of the Tiger,” also made the set list.
Interesting side note: Kennedy brought things full circle on “Year of the Tiger,” enlisting Mayfield Four bandmate Zia Uddin to play drums on the record.
Any fan of Kennedy’s would have enjoyed this musical walk down memory lane, but what made the night even more special, for both Kennedy and the audience, was the fact that Kennedy was among family and friends.
His parents, at least one friend from high school and at least one former guitar student were in the crowd, and Kennedy seemed to recognize just about everyone in attendance.
Early in the show, after Kennedy took a moment to thank the crowd and welcome them to the show, a man in the audience yelled out “Bittersweet,” the name of Kennedy’s high school band.
Kennedy then happily shared that a member of the audience still had the pamphlet Bittersweet sent to fans on their mailing list and had brought it to the show.
“Thank you so much,” Kennedy, wearing a Spokane Doesn’t Suck shirt, told the crowd before leaving the stage for the final time. “You guys are amazing. It’s good to be home.”
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