A few years ago we had the opportunity to interview Shinedown‘s singer Brent Smith and drummer Barry Kerch. We were so impressed with their passion for the music and openness and down to earth attitudes that we bought a last minute ticket to the show that night, behind the stage and up in the nosebleeds, just to see them live. We were blown away! But that was just a prequel to the adrenaline rush we experienced this time!
Currently on tour across Canada with KISS and promoting their newest album, Amaryllis, Shinedown is pulling no punches and winning over a whole new batch of fans! Our show was at Kelowna’s Prospera Place.
Opening the show with a bang, the band ripped into ‘Diamond Eyes’ with the vigor we’ve come to associate with Shinedown. High octane crisp clear vocals from Smith were backed up expertly with bass from Eric Bass, guitar from Zach Myers and booming drums from Kerch. Smith played to the audience – knowing that to those in the far reaches, a band is a mere speck on stage. His movements were broad and sweeping but never trite or overly dramatic. Myers and Bass refused to stand in one spot all night, alternating between front of stage, specially built ramps to elevate them closer to the side wings, and standing near Kerch to jam as a three piece. Kerch played to perfection – dreadlock hair loose and flying around his head like a dark blond halo… playing to the song not to personal ego.
‘Diamond Eyes’ morphed into one of the band’s new singles, ‘Enemies’ and Smith stood on the very edge of the stage to stare down at the audience – bending down to get to nearly eye level as he sang, “its quite the drop from the top, so how you feeling down there.” Backing vocals from Myers and Bass added to the chill of the tune’s harsh lyrics of betrayal and taking the betrayer to task. The song ended, the audience responded well and the lights went off, and the hair on the back of our neck stood up as suddenly in the dark, Smith recited lyrics like spoken word poetry. Knowing what was coming next (we reviewed Shinedown‘s video a few months ago), we kept our eyes peeled on the keyboard set up in Bass’s corner.. suddenly the clear sweet intro to ‘I’ll Follow You’ filled the almost quiet stadium, and a single spotlight shone on Bass as he leaned over the keyboard and played with a passion of a master. The audience reacted vigorously as soon as they recognized the tune (it’s been getting a LOT of airplay at local rock station Power 104 as a 4th single from Amaryllis) and people behind us were singing along by the first chorus. Each band member had a mini solo in this song – a wailing sad guitar lick by Myers at the top end of the scale, piano intro from Bass, even a booming bass drum from Kerch near the middle (which just makes us shiver).. and we unabashedly sang along with those around us as the song hit the final choruses. The thunderous applause at the song’s conclusion had the band smiling to themselves but not taking a breather – in fact, inspired by the response they kicked it up a notch.
‘Sound of Madness’ and ‘Second Chance’ (from Sound of Madness) were also songs instantly recognized by the massive crowd, and kept the energies going in a two way stream between band and audience, then into ‘Simple Man’ which was just phenomenal to hear live. ‘Bully’, the first single from Amaryllis rounded out the band’s set, and they were gone much too soon!
Shinedown are an incredible live band – they have the ‘it’ factor. That spark of something where the whole is larger than the sum of the parts – each man has his own unique style both in dress and body language. It’s impossible to take your eyes off any of them, although one has to if you want to watch the other band members! Smith has an energy that is almost palpable, a charisma that elevates him on stage from a nice regular guy, to this powerhouse of sound, and one can well imagine him still reaching the back of the venue if his mic quit and he had to sing without it! Kerch is a pleasure to watch, smiling, glowing, exacting in his movements and so in tune with his drum kit it looks effortless despite the sweat on his brow. Myers has been playing guitar since age 7, had his first recording deal at age 15 or 16 and is truly one with his instrument. Bass is the most flamboyant in style, and is mesmerizing as he moves across the stage – they all are!
Have a chance to see Shinedown live? DON’T TURN IT DOWN. This band is just getting started!
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*read our INTERVIEW with Shinedown HERE