From the first chord to the last pyrotechnic blast, you could feel every Godsmack drum beat and Shinedown guitar riff echoed in your chest. The audience loved them, they loved the audience and they made sure the audience knew it.
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls … the only reason we are here is because of every single one of you,” Brent Smith, lead vocalist of Shinedown, rhythmically shouted into the mic over appreciative screams and enthusiastic applause.
Asking Alexandria opened the show, immediately firing up the impatient concert goers. The crowd was eager to engage as Ben Bruce, lead guitarist, encouraged everyone to sing along for a few bars. “When The Lights Come On” set the tone for the whole night: “after sitting and waiting and anticipating, the energy through the walls reverberating; it’s so captivating.”
And captivating is exactly what it was. The combination of charismatic performers, fireworks, fog cannons and coordinated light design was just the right dose of spectacle to hold the audience’s attention all night.
Before the curtain fell away to reveal the first of the co-headlining bands you could hear guitars and drum sections being soundchecked, the crowd’s impatience and excitement increasing with every test.
Godsmack took the stage with fire, explosions and a seamless setlist representing every album they’ve released. Each song brought a new wave of enthusiasm to the arena with pyrotechnical outbursts added for emphasis.
The show was consistently full speed ahead with a few well placed moments of respite. Before “Something Different” Sully Erna, lead vocalist, had the booth kill the overheads and the arena was filled with thousands of little stars as he asked the audience to light the stage themselves.
After “Voodoo,” another audience favorite, Shannon Larkin’s drum set rolled down to the right, making way for another set. Erna jumped up on the second drum set platform and, initially using only his bare hands, started to answer Larkin’s challenge in “Batalla de los tambores.”
Erna brought Zach Myers, lead guitarist from Shinedown, on stage for a cover of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” which the audience wholeheartedly sang along to before ending with a final Godsmack hit, “I Stand Alone.”
The crowd went wild. Erna thanked everyone for showing their support and coming out to the show. “There is nothing you can do to replicate the feeling of being at a real live show. There is nothing like this.”
Then came Shinedown. The new set design was exciting in itself. A system of ramps and bridges overtook the stage with a center dais for the drum set.
It took very little time for Smith to take control of the audience. He said stand and they stood, jump and they jumped.
The spectrum of emotion Shinedown could evoke ran from a primal desire to get up and start a fight, many of which playfully broke out in the stagefront crowd at intervals through both bands’ sets, to a deeper compassion for the personal struggles of each of the musicians outlined in the lyrics of “Get Up” and “Second Chance.” Shinedown’s use of laser lights, mirrors and coordinated fireworks was so well timed that it seemed as if Smith was magicing them up at his discretion.
As the show went on it was impressive how, using so many of the same special effects, the show designs for each band could still feel so different. The sheer violence of the drums and magnetic, coercive force of each lead vocalist brought the crowd to their feet as they loyally waved their arms in the rock n’ roll salute.
Godsmack and Shinedown each left the stage with a promise to come back to Spokane because we had been, as they said, “the tour’s best crowd by far.” And, in the words of Shinedown’s Eric Bass, “rock n’ roll has always made its name off of honesty.” So, let’s hold them to it.
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