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Alter Bridge: Live From AmsterdamAlter Bridge: Live From Amsterdam
Universal Republic Records

Alter Bridge Strikes Emotional Chord in First Concert DVD

Alter Bridge's first concert DVD, Live From Amsterdam, isn't trying to replace the fanfare found at an overpriced arena gig. There are no carnival acts, pyrotechnics or gratuitous shots of half-naked women from 40-year-old drummers.

What the DVD does give viewers, however, is a no-frills and honest look at arguably one of hard rock's most under-appreciated bands.

Playing in front of more than 8,000 fans at the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Alter Bridge tore through a balanced 18-song set of its two albums, One Day Remains and Blackbird. The quartet of Myles Kennedy (lead vocals/guitar), Mark Tremonti (lead guitar/vocals), Brian Marshall (bass) and Scott Phillips (drums) perform with ease and precision, displaying the camaraderie built after years on the road together.

Vocally, Kennedy takes a few songs to warm up, starting tentatively on the opening numbers, "Come to Life" and "Find the Real." He quickly rebounds though and cuts loose with a four-octave range that leaves jaws on the floor, particularly during a solo acoustic version of "Watch Over You."

Other stand out performances include the epic "Blackbird," an emotionally-charged rendition of "In Loving Memory," fan-favorite "Open Your Eyes" and the head banging anthems "Metalingus" and "Ties That Bind," which highlight Tremonti's shredding guitar solo style.

The picture and audio quality of the DVD matches the top-notch display by the band. Filmed by 22 high definition cameras and presented with an option for 5.1 surround sound, the 90-minute show is captured well. Although some camera angles change too rapidly, the picture is crisp and both audio mixes are balanced nicely.

Unfortunately, while the performance and footage are both exceptional, Live From Amsterdam does have its flaws. The disc features absolutely nothing in terms of extras. Given that bonus content has become the norm for concert DVD releases during the past decade, the fact Alter Bridge chose to include nothing is disappointing and mars an otherwise enjoyable viewing experience.

In addition, while a Blu-ray Disc version of Live From Amsterdam was originally announced earlier this year, the idea was shelved, without further marketing and explanation. It is unfortunate, as the picture quality and close-up angles of the band are ideal for the higher definition format.

A deluxe edition of the current DVD, featuring bonus content but four less songs is planned for early 2010. According to the band's Web site, there are legal issues between Alter Bridge's first label, Wind-up Records and its current one, Universal Republic Records, that have caused the delay.

Legal disputes and the bare bones approach to the initial pressing aside, Live From Amsterdam is still a must have for Alter Bridge fans. It chronicles one of the finest moments in Alter Bridge's history and is a worthy introduction to the group for hard rock and metal fans looking to give Alter Bridge a shot.

- Brian Heaton

Copyright 2009, Brian Heaton. All Rights Reserved.