Shinedown Command The Paramount Huntington, NY 9-7-17 w/ Biffy Clyro

The end of the summer season can be a sad affair for many. Gone are the long days, outdoor cookouts, and for some, summer love. Thankfully, here to help wash away the end of summer blues are Hard Rock titans Shinedown on a limited North American run of shows with Scotland’s Biffy Clyro. How limited? Well, it comes just a month after Shinedown wrapped up a summer fling of their own touring across the country in support of 2015’s Threat to Survival and it lasted of all a week long. Say it isn’t so! Not to worry, the boys from the south more than likely will have a few shows between now and the end of the year, but it is time to get some much needed R&R, and oh yea, perhaps record some new music!

Before closing the book on this chapter, Shinedown kicked off the early September block of shows at The Paramount in Huntington, New York on Thursday the 7th. A buzz-filled event indeed, on hand was Long Island’s own FM Rock station 94.3 The Shark acting as hosts. Garnering a devoted following, a line formed up New York Avenue early on and the show was all but sold out for Shinedown’s first visit to The Paramount since their special acoustic performance on December 13, 2015. 

Ready to get the party started, Biffy Clyro brought with them their unique brand of Rock-n-Roll; one that is all but foreign to most Americans. Together for over twenty years now, Biffy Clyro began when Lead Vocalist/Guitarist Simon Neil was only fifteen years old with Bassist James Johnston, and soon after, inviting twin brother Ben Johnston on drums. Growing up together, they have released seven studio albums since 2002, with their latest being 2016’s Ellipsis. Attaining platinum, gold, and silver records album after album, Ellipsis hit # 1 in the UK, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, and of course Scotland. Already striking gold, the album unfortunately has not caught on much in North America yet, but Biffy Clyro are trying to change that trend on this bill with Shinedown.

Not without their own dedicated fans, there were certainly people in the audience who knew of Biffy Clyro and some even traveled distances for the rare chance to see them. Coming out, the band wasted little time getting to the music, dishing out tunes such as “Wolves of Winter,” “Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies,” and “Bubbles.” Now, for those who have little to no knowledge of Biffy Clyro would more than likely think the song titles alone all sound vastly different. The truth is, that is the beauty of Biffy Clyro. This band is more than impossible to pigeonhole into a genre. Somewhere in between Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Punk Rock, along with Alternative Rock, their songs are carefully crafted and all their own.

Excited for the chance to showcase their sound to a potential new fanbase, Biffy Clyro exerted tremendous energy as they moved along with clever tunes such as “Friends and Enemies” followed by others including “Black Chandelier,” “That Golden Rule” and “Animal Style.” Then, taking it down a few notches, the balladesque “Many of Horror” captured the audience’s attention fully before they wrapped up the set with choppy, yet rhythmic “Mountains.” Certainly one of the European Rock scene’s best kept secrets, the time is now for Biffy Clyro to shine in America.

Now packed tightly, the floor of The Paramount had little room as a mix of friends and family awaited Shinedown to take the stage. With 1 out of every 3 people sporting a Shinedown t-shirt, it became evident this was not the first live experience for most of the crowd. Let us not forget Shinedown has been at this for over 15 years now, so there has been plenty opportunities to catch the band live. That in mind, it is always a new experience thanks to the powerful voice of Brent Smith matching his equally as powerful and engaging personality.

Smith and his bandmates – Zach Myers (guitar), Eric Bass (bass), and Barry Kerch (drums) – have formed an alliance, far stronger than the average band. They have been through the fire together, both personally as well as a Rock-n-Roll band. Sticking together, Shinedown has gone on to achieve great things releasing one chart-topping record after another, and 2015’s Threat to Survival was no exception. An album which came 3 years following some criticism over 2012’s Amaryllis, Shinedown essentially shut down the naysayers with one of their most cohesive records to date.  

Still riding high on Threat to Survival, the band took to The Paramount stage energized, determined, and ready to rock. In fact, it was no holds barred as they blasted into the politically emotional “Devour” before early favorite “Fly From the Inside” and the chant along “Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom).” A healthy Smith, slender and athletic looking, moved about the stage with ease as he belted out extremely intense vocal lines, barely breaking a sweat. A testament to his recommitment to himself, fans, and family after a few years back when he found himself stirring off the tracks, Smith is no doubt one of the best frontman in Rock. 

Proof of the bloated statement, Smith not only sang at a high level, like always, he commanded the crowd at that same level. Making eye contact, hand gestures, and pointing out, he had complete control of this audience. Speaking with everyone as if he knew them on a personal level, he made the statement that the night was a special night, different than any other. Why? Because it was their night and no one else’s. Allowing that to sink in, the music continued on with other killer tunes including “How Did You Love,” “If You Only Knew,” and the irresistibly heavy “Enemies.” 

Keeping that community theme going all set long, Smith requested the audience acknowledge one another with a handshake, but it was more than that, it was a chance for people to humanize one another and realize the person standing next to them was more than just another body. Keeping the conversation flowing in between the songs such as “Unity,” Smith rightful addressed the misfortune of fellow Americans who have been in the path of storms over the past few weeks before going into “State of My Head.”

Striking a nerve with each passing melody and harmony sung, Smith and company kept the energy level high through hit tracks “Second Chance,” “I’ll Follow You,” before the rowdy “Cut the Cord” and “Bully.” All showered with the perfect balance of aggression and passion, individually, Kerch hammered the kit as he sat high on a raised platform while Bass stomped his feet and spun around as Myers offered an animated display of guitar work. At this point, a break to catch one’s breath would be fitting, and that was exactly Shinedown’s plan of attack as they broke out the acoustic guitar for a Smith & Myers emotional rendition of “45” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man.”

Digging deep into the souls of everyone in attendance with the touching acoustic segment, the time came for one final kick in the ass as the entire band joined for “Sound of Madness.” With laser lights beaming and a sea of hands in the air, as everyone bounced in rhythm to the music, they unleashed their last wind of energy before being sent off into the night. While it was over, every ending brings a new beginning, so where do Shinedown go from here? Chances are they will rightfully spend quality time with their families before re-entering the studio to record the follow-up to Threat to Survival. Rumor has it the blueprint of music is already in the works and the band has a concept in place. While fans anxiously await more detail in the coming months, they can rely on the fact that Shinedown will be back before they can bat an eye. 

Photo credit: Stephanie Pearl Photography 

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