When a man gets a Digeridoo out on stage at a rock gig, then it’s a fair bet that Like A Storm are involved. “Love The Way You Hate Me” – aka the one with indigenous instrumentation – ends the set here and whilst it remains the highlight, there is much to commend the rest of their 40 minutes too. The Brooks Brothers, who make up three quarters of LaS have got this stuff down to a fine art now, and Chris Brooks is a formidable and energetic frontman. Modern rock, but with its own touches and flourishes – there is plenty of baritone bluesy guitar here as well, notably on the superb “Wish You Hell”. Matt, the lead guitarist, takes lead vocals on “Solitary” which adds a different vibe, and whilst they are literally amongst friends and family here (their dad was born in the midlands and there’s plenty of the clan around to share) then that is metaphorically true too. Not for Like A Storm any notion of struggling to get the crowd warmed up, indeed it’s a struggle to think of a time when an opening act has gone down this well in a long time. Songs like “Become The Enemy” have been honed with more than opening in mind and by the time “…Hate Me” is done, Chris Brooks is in amongst his people in the pit. Job, absolutely and completely, done.
From a man with a Digeridoo in hand to a man bashing the drums with his head. That’s how Shannon Larkin chooses to end “Come Together” – the massively rocked up version of The Beatles song that they end with tonight.
To be honest too, “massively rocked up” basically sums up the whole of the Godsmack sound throughout.
Originally planned for last autumn, but postponed after the tragic death of guitarist Tony Rombola’s son, the set is still heavy on material from last years wonderful “When Legends Rise” album. The title track soars to kick things off, but there’s plenty more where that came from.
“Unforgettable” is a real highlight, as is “Say My Name” but they don’t forget the past either.
A stellar back catalogue is mined for the visceral “Crying Like A Bitch” and “Something Different” amongst others, and “Voodoo” absolutely broods with dark intent.
Mostly, the music speaks volumes here. But frontman Sully Erna does lead the crowd in some organised chanting in “Whatever” before “….Together” morphs into “Stairway To Heaven” and back again in something of an extended jam to finish things off here.
What happens in the encore, though, is interesting. “Scars”, was a real departure on the record and is here too. Erna sitting at the piano but speaking movingly about the foundation the band have started to help those who are struggling with depression before he plays the track.
No doubt, though about the sheer class of “Bulletproof”, the absolute highlight of “…Rise” is here too, and the crowd goes all kinds of crazy for “I Stand Alone”.
It is a measure of the level that Godsmack are at, perhaps, that Erna suggests towards the end that he “loves these intimate shows……” As a local I am often at this venue and honestly, the top balcony, where I am sat tonight, is rarely open. The place is packed, absolutely heaving and the assembled throng seems like it is having the time of its life.
The only conclusion to draw from this is a simple one: whatever formula Godsmack have hit on, it works.