Alter Bridge tears up Town Ballroom (2011)

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When Creed called it quits in 2004, the public’s reaction was anything but typical.  Rather than millions of fans crying foul and expressing their undying affection for all things Scott Stapp, we heard nothing but jubilation from pundits who had reached wit’s end regarding the band’s bloated brand of theological post-grunge.

Despite being one of the most commercially successful bands of the 2000s, the musical community turned its back on Creed, making way for a slew of parodies and vitriol that, to me, felt a little unfair for a band that happened to include a sumptuous cast of musical technicians.

I’ll concede the fact that Stapp’s lyrics and ham-fisted stage antics wore thin following the release of 2000’s “Human Clay” but there was a time, if only for a moment, where I believed in Creed as a true rock-and-roll ensemble.

They brought their A-game on 1997’s “My Own Prison,” and I can’t really fault them for becoming too big, too fast.

Having said that, seeing Alter Bridge’s performance inside Buffalo’s Town Ballroom on Tuesday night opened my eyes to just how far Mark Tremonti, Brian Marshall, and Scott Phillips have come since inviting singer Myles Kennedy into the fold.

Kennedy is a revelation, an old-school howler with a signature vocal style reminiscent of Glenn Hughes and the killer guitar chops necessary to go toe-to-toe with Tremonti’s Paul Reed Smith.  His presence makes Alter Bridge one of the finest hard rock outfits to emerge from the last 10 years, because we finally get to see what these guys are really capable of.

Opening with the eerie vibes of “Slip to the Void,” the band established an immediate connection with a crowd that appeared hell-bent on throwing down early and often.

I wouldn’t consider Alter Bridge a thrash band per se, but mosh pits have indeed made themselves a staple of hard rock concerts as of late, and the band clearly fed off of the chaos.  Tracks such as “Buried Alive,” “Ghost of Days Gone By,” and “Open Your Eyes” came off wonderfully as the overall sound of the band asserted itself as tailor-made for the stage.

The climax of the evening arrived in the form of a guitar duel between Kennedy and Tremonti, and culminated with the anthemic verve of “Rise Today,” a song that many people may have recognized from promos for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

As a unit, Alter Bridge has gotten better and more complex with each release, so I don’t think that it’s off-base to think that, at this point, they’ve carved their own niche apart from the Creed catalog.

Comparisons are inevitable for some, but engaging in that type of stinginess only takes away from what both bands are about and, to me, makes one a victim of their own petty prison.

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