Godsmack - Shinedown

Like A Storm Concert

August 4, 2018 - Irvine CA

Story by James West, The-Rocker.com

Photos by Danette West, TheRockerChic.com

It seemed like a bit of an odd-pairing with Shinedown and Godsmack sharing a bill at Irvine’s Five Point Amphitheater a couple weeks ago.  I’m a fan of both groups but for different reasons.

 

Shinedown has to do with my love for vocals which singer Brent Smith brings in spades; Godsmack has to do with my love for riffs and grooves which Sully Erna and company always bring the heat.

Both bands do their best at bringing both to the table; but to me neither has fully realized their potential in delivering both the way that bands like Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, and The Who brought in their heyday.  But for 2018 both these groups give us classic rockers hope that strong songwriting and great musicianship still have a future in Rock and Roll!

Didgeridoo For You Too!

The evening started off with another unique band on the bill- Like A Storm from New Zealand.  The Rocker Chic and I had never heard of the band prior to that night, and she even texted my Rocker Spawn April to see if she knew of them, and it seems we were all a bit clueless about the band.  It turns out this happened to be a band who is the highest charting New Zealand hard rock band in American radio history with both of the bands albums debuting in the Billboard 200!

top notch American acts like Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry, and Korn.

The interesting thing about  Like A Storm is their use of a Didgeridoo in most of their songs!  Yes, I did say Didgeridoo, like Crocodile Dundee Didgeridoo! It was a bid odd for rock and roll, but you know what?  The sound led to some interesting music coming from this cool little band.  When singer Chris brought out the thing I thought initially that it was some sort of huge BONG and he was gonna share with the audience!  Ha Ha!  Don’t laugh… we were in recreational California for Christ sakes!

Chris blew the hell out that Didgeridoo and would toss it across the stage to a handler who’s main job was to catch the big log without

The band started promptly at 7 p.m. and the Rocker Chic and I were still getting settled in our cheap but great 20-dollar seats.  We were both immediately impressed with the quality of musicianship from the band.  The three brothers Chris, Kent, and Matt Brooks were all on point and played like it was their first time in front of a large crowd.  It turns out the band has opened for several

knocking someone else out in the process.  The crowd loved it and both the Rocker Chic and I enjoyed the cool sound combination this instrument made when combined with the bands harder-edged sound and great vocals.  Like A Storm were thankful to be at the event; even bring along what looked like their entire tribe of family from New Zealand with them hanging out backstage!

Shinedown Overshadowed

For some reason I thought Godsmack would be opening for Shinedown as Godsmack has lagged behind Shinedown with Brent and company having had more commercial success with songs like Simple Man, Save Me, I Dare You, Second Chance, and If You Only Knew.  So when Shinedown took the stage it was a bit of a shock at first.  

 

You could immediately tell there was a larger female

presence than at most of the concerts we see!  The gals were up out of their seats and bouncing to Brent and the band and didn’t slow down during their whole performance.  The crowd in general seemed to be more mainstream with this band; maybe because of the band’s shift to more pop-oriented sounds the last couple of albums. 

Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with having more of a palette of diversity to offer fans, but for me, I’ve gotten kind of lost in their shuffle from harder to more radio-friendly fare.   In fact, the band didn’t even play some of the hits that made them successful like Save Me, If You Only Knew, and my personal favorite song of the band, I Dare You!

The lighting and sound sounded great from the stage, and new songs like Cut The Cord, Black Soul, and even the rap-influenced offering State Of My Head went over well with the crowd.  I did feel like most of the performance felt a little forced on us though from Brent, who often felt like he had to instruct the crowd as to what to do to his satisfaction.  Sorry to offend any fans here, but I don’t need to be ordered around at a Rock concert, Ha!

 

So, as you can tell from my review here, it was a good performance from Shinedown, but overall I felt a bit annoyed and let down from the song selection and stage presence.

Godsmack Gets Bulletproof!

With Godsmack up next I felt a little apprehensive as to what to expect from them also.  As with Shinedown’s latest album Attention Attention,  I also checked out a sampling from Godsmack’s latest album When Legends Rise before the show.  I’m all about bands trying new things, like with Shinedown’s attempt at a concept album and with Godsmack’s more mainstream approach with When Legends Rise.  But that doesn’t always mean they

always work, and both bands have missed their mark with their latest releases in my opinion.  But what would Godsmack bring live for me and The Rocker Chic that night?  Perfection- That’s what Godsmack brought to us who attended in Irvine California that night!

The Metallica and Alice In Chains-type riffs and thundering drum and bass are what separated Godsmack’s performance from the Pop and Polish of Shinedown that evening.  Even the four songs off Godsmack’s new album the band performed were delivered in true Godsmack form.  It’s like you can’t try to make an apple an orange, and in this case, you can’t try to make this Hard Rock band into a Pop Band!  Why deny who you truly are, and Godsmack leader Sully Erna knows this, and as a result, led his band to a great performance that night in Irvine. 

That’s not saying he didn’t try to Pop it up a little with their new single Bulletproof; but there was no denying the heaviness this band brings to performance and fans alike.  Unlike most Hard Rock bands that the Rocker Chic and I go to see Godsmack even had a full-blown mosh pit down front and fully engaged by the crowd.

 

But that wasn’t the only thing we enjoyed seeing that night; the intense lighting setup combined with a generally laid back attitude from Sully and the band

combined to make the performance both mesmerizing and fun at the same time; something Shinedown could take notes from.  The Rocker Chic captured some absolutely beautiful pics even from our not so close seats; which, in a way, allowed us to witness not only the power and intensity of the band but also the artistic side of the performance as well.

Sully often took breaks to joke about the heat the band felt the night earlier in Vegas where it was 100+ on stage, “My armpits were hurtin’ from all the sweat!” he exclaimed, and then joked about how great his hair was holding up at our venue in California; “You guys always have the best weather to play in- My hair gel is holding up incredibly.  I could ram my head through someone’s ass and still look good!” he exclaimed with laughter in his voice.  You could genuinely tell Godsmack was having a blast, and in return, the crowd gave that excitement back to the band.  This is what a concert is all about folks… What you take is what you give back; a mutual love of music and camaraderie between band and fans.

Sully wasn’t the only Godsmack member firing on all cylinders that night; drummer Shannon Larkin and Tony Rombola’s guitar playing was also incredible!  While Erna’s singing has been compared to the snarl of James Hetfield and composed of dark harmony that sounds like Alice In Chains, Larkin’s drumming has been compared to worshipping at the twin altars of Neil Peart and John Bonham. Rombola’s guitar playing style has been praised as guitars that sound like percussion instruments.

One of the highpoints of the evening came when Sully showed he wasn’t a slouch either on drums during a drum-off with Larkin.  They both brought the thunder and even performed some Metallica and Rush classics to the crowds’ enjoyment.

 

So, from the Didgeridoo of the Outback of Like A Storm to the Military rank and file of Shinedown to the Hair grease and relaxed atmosphere of Godsmack,

it was quite a diverse evening the Rocker Chic and I witnessed in Irvine.  To each his own, but for me, Godsmack’s performance Shine-Downed upon a great crowd on a great night to enjoy Rock and Roll!

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