August 5, 2015 Shinedown Inspire Beacon Theatre, NYC 7-24-15 w/ Nothing More
Last Spring, it was announced that Shinedown was to kick-off an initial fourteen-date Summer tour in order to personally announce to their fans that a brand new fifth album will soon be released. Formed in 2001, with original members Brent Smith on vocals and Barry Kerch on drums, they have produced four successful albums over their fourteen year career. Founded in Jacksonville, Florida, these hard rockers have proven to their fans that quality triumphs over quantity. Their musical efforts have consisted of polished melodies, tempestuous lyrics, and a pristine production quality found on each release. It was no surprise that when the latest single “Cut the Cord” was released at the end of June 2015, after a three-year waiting period, it provoked a tasteful, formidable return for Shinedown. Over the course of their career, there have been a few lineup changes, and these days, the rest of the band includes Zach Myers on lead guitar and Eric Bass on bass. Nearly halfway into their Summer tour, on Friday, July 24th, 2015, Shinedown hit the heart of New York City just outside of Lincoln Square, selling out the classy Beacon Theatre.
Opening for them that evening were Nothing More, an Alternative Metal band who hail from San Antonio, Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana. Crushing their way onto the scene back in 2003, Nothing More have become known for pouring their hearts out into each song they create. After five independently released albums, Eleven Seven Music picked up their latest self-titled album in 2014, marking their first time ever under a major label. This successful release has seen them rise to chart-topping positions in Billboard Mainstream Rock and Mediabase Active Rock, along with popular radio play, especially from the notorious Florida-based Rock station JRR. The latest lineup consists of Jonny Hawkins (lead vocals/aux drums), Daniel Oliver (bass/backing vocals), Mark Vollelunga (guitar/backing vocals) and Paul O’Brien (drums). New Yorkers were ready to see their invigorating, bestial live performance, and a mass of bodies awaited in front of the stage for the show to begin.
Taking the stage kicking and screaming, they opened up with their hit of “Mr. MTV.” Hawkins flooded the platform with his passionate vocals, while Vollelunga lifted the crowd’s spirits as he wailed right into a crushing guitar riff in “Christ Copyright.” Hawkins’ energetic momentum persistently engaged the audience as his vocals reached throughout the venue. Moving right along with their limited set time, they smashed right into “First Punch.” Keeping the fans engaged, Oliver flew in with a one of a kind solo which led to the bass being placed on a platform for all to jam to under one shared spotlight. As the crowd were left, jaws dropped open, Hawkins introduced the next track as their latest single of “Jenny.” This piece tugged on heart strings throughout the crowd with its theme of mental illness, expressed beautifully by Hawkins’ captivating stage presence. As their set wound down, Hawkins announced the next song as being written about something that is difficult for all to do, which is to let go, as they broke into the heartstopping “This is the Time (Ballast).”
After six songs from their latest album, it was time to close the set with the classic “Salem (Burn the Witch)” from 2009’s The Few Not Fleeting. Hawkins grabbed his drumsticks and played in front for a while. Oliver and Vollelunga joined in as well, raising their own sticks in the air. This unique quartet drum solo closeout bewildered the crowd, until shortly after when each member went back to their respective gear for the ultimate “Burn the Witch” screaming finale. After the success of their self-titled album, Nothing More are guaranteed to return for their own headlining tour. There is still plenty of time to see them live since they have shows lined up through the middle of October. Theirs is a ferocious performance that should not be missed.
After a quick break, the house flooded with people decked out in Shinedown t-shirts. Despite the packed house being a seated venue, no one was sitting down the moment Shinedown came onto the stage, leaving the house lights on as they opened up with the brand new unreleased track of “Asking For It.” A quarter into this song, the house lights went out and the extravagant stage lighting began. The smiling Smith appeased his veteran fans as they went into “Crying Out” and “Fly From the Inside” from their debut 2003 studio album Leave a Whisper. During this performance, Smith even shook as many hands as he could from his perch upon the stage. The energy persisted, especially from Myers and Bass switching positions across the stage, thrusting forth a compelling performance impossible to ignore. Fans continued to scream and sing when they went into the next hit “If You Only Knew” from 2008’s The Sound of Madness.
Slowing down the pace, hitting the piano, it was time for the enchanting “Unity” from 2012’s Amaryllis. Keeping the fans on their toes, they went directly into “The Crow & The Butterfly” which ended in a rousing guitar solo by Myers where he entertained all while wailing on his axe upside down until the fading close-out. Fans crazily cheered as they went into the fun “Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom).” Smith showing his comfort upon the Beacon Theatre stage, sat right down and went into the dramatic, “I’ll Follow You.”
As the set was now about halfway done, Smith announced more than just their music that night as he explained, “We want to introduce you to someone. Come here wild man. Ladies and gentlemen, all of New York City, this is Mr. Bill McGathy, everyone say hello.” Everyone cheered to McGathy as Smith continued, “Bill McGathy has been our manager for almost two decades and tonight is his birthday. We get to hear it in a sold out audience. This man is our family, this man is our mentor, and this man is our dearest and best friend in the whole world. So if you don’t mind, and I know this for a fact, I can’t say, but we are going to make this a fact right here and right now. New York City, would you mind singing the loudest Happy Birthday Song here at the Beacon Theater?” The fans cheered and the entire venue sung Happy Birthday.
As the set turned into an intimate evening, it was time to pick the pace back up as the screaming “Enemies” began. It was at the end of this, with the crowd jumping and singing, when a fan screamed out, “Oh my god that was amazing! He is such a good singer!” The evening switched to an intimate acoustic setting as Smith announced the next piece, “So when we were putting this particular set list together, we wanted to do something a little different at this point in the show. We put these songs that have never been played before on any of the tours previously so we were bringing some songs back. So this is a song, the one we are about to play, we haven’t played it in quite a while, and when we were touring on the last album, it got requested a lot. I don’t think the entire time we have been playing it has been played, so we are going to bring it back tonight and it’s called ‘I Dare You’.” The audience were grateful hearing this performance as they continued to sing along throughout.
Smith’s warmth to all continued as he explained the meaning behind the next track, “In Memory” as he announced, “This next song, it’s quite an interesting story how it came about and that we’re actually going to perform it tonight. Mr. Eric Bass, he walked into rehearsal one day and he had this interesting idea. He said why don’t I take one of the songs from the first two albums and lets flip it. Almost as if it’s a reimagining. So what we did was we picked a song from our very first album, it wasn’t a single. It’s quite inspiring in a lot of ways because now when we are playing this song it’s like we are playing it for the first time all over again, so if you know the words feel free to sing along.”
Closing the acoustic set on an even more personal note, Smith admitted to all, “So our last record, which is the record called Amaryllis, does anyone know that one?” The audience responded in a loud cheer and Smith continued, “This was actually a song that got requested on that album and never appeared on it. We’re going to play it tonight. It’s very interesting, I know I’ve said that a few times tonight but, this particular song, I think we didn’t play it because I didn’t really, honestly know if I could personally sing it every night. I don’t know if you ever looked at yourself in the mirror before and you feel like you’ve seen a ghost. That’s the way I felt when we wrote the song, but the very honest feelings that I have now about this song is I was able to let him go. This song is called ‘Through the Ghost’.”
Ripping back to their electric gear and heavy vibrations, it was time to knock into their latest single, “Cut the Cord.” Shortly after this track, there were a bit of technical difficulties, where the band stood in front of the exhilarated crowd, who were unaware that there was even an issue. Smith quipped, “So every time we have a little bit of technical difficulty, as long as we’ve been doing this, there’s no manual on what to do and how to address the audience because, every time a musician tries to tell a joke or something like that, it’s just stupid. There’s no point in it. We know we’re not funny, we understand that. We think we’re funny but, that’s not what it’s all about. You ready now?” Fans pounded in a clap which ignited to the introduction of the infamous hit “Devour.” Heading back to the Leave a Whisper era, Smith cried out, “And the next song, since we’re all inside and all together, show us what the stars look like tonight in New York City, every single lighter you got.” Fans proudly raised their cell phones and lighters as they went into “45.” Shortly after, it was time to pick up the pace as they crushed with “Bully.”
The evening was on the brink of closing, and yet the mesmerizing surprises continued as Shinedown went for another round of their acoustic set, moving in with the favored “Second Chance” from The Sound of Madness. As the screams settled down in the audience, Smith asked all, “You still having a good time?” Fans roared again, Smith looked at Myers and stated, “Whenever you’re ready sir.” Myers “tuned” his acoustic guitar by briefly going into Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” Smith joked, “Oh he’s out of tune.” A fan cried out in an nostalgic-esque 1992 Wayne’s World fashion, “No Stairway!” After the laughter settled, they went into the Lynyrd Skynyrd cover of “Simple Man.” When the song was nearly wrapping up, Smith engaged with the crowd on a heartwarming and serious level stating, “Everyone see my hand? I’ll make you a deal. In a moment, the higher my hand goes up, the louder you scream, the louder you all sing. This is simple and this is not about ego, this is about love. I want to tell you all, because we live in an absolutely beautiful, and I mean beautiful world, but we also live in a really devastating world. So for a moment in time, right here in the greatest city in the world, there will be no such thing as religion, there will be no such thing as race, except for the human race. My hand goes up, let it go, as loud as you can and send every single ounce of love that you have to the rest of the world. Let them know exactly where we are tonight and let them know that we are sending them all and I do mean all, of our love. Deal?” As Smith raised his hand, the screams in the crowd were excruciatingly loud as it echoed across the room. People screamed to the top of their lungs as though the entire Upper West side of Manhattan could hear it. The audience loved this moment as Shinedown continued to beautifully close out with “Simple Man.”
At this moment, there was a song that was obviously missing from the set. It was time, saving the best for last as they closed the night with the acclaimed “Sound of Madness.” The audience waved their fists in the air, chanting and singing along. Once the song ended, Smith spoke to the crowd one last time, expressing his love by saying, “You are forever in our hearts. It’s never goodbye. Until next time.” Disclosing this multitude of intimacy at such a large venue as the Beacon Theatre left New Yorkers in a whirlwind, who would most likely put this show in their personal top-five list of best performances. On July 30th, Shinedown hinted on their Facebook page, posting a black photo with the number five along with the date 08/07/2015. Fans should prepare themselves since this could be the announcement of the official name and release date of their fifth album, which has been rumored to be released in September. Look out for more tour dates after this upcoming announcement. With a performance like this one at the Beacon Theatre, Shinedown proved they are full of glorious surprises.