January 4, 2016 Shinedown’s Smith & Myers Bring Special Acoustic Show To Long Island, NY 12-13-15
Returning with their first studio album since 2012’s Amaryllis, American Rock-n-Roll band Shinedown dominated 2015’s music charts with Threat to Survival, touring extensively, and solidifying their reputation. Staying true to the title of their new record, Shinedown proved that despite what some would like to label them, their goals has always been to create Rock music that is sincere and soulful. Led by the powerful voice of Brent Smith, the lineup of Drummer Barry Kerch, Guitarist Zach Myers, and Bassist Eric Bass wrapped up their 2015 touring as of November 24th, but a secondary string of unique performances would commence on December 4th. Leading directly into Christmas week, ending on December 19th, this run would see the duo of Smith and Myers join forces for an intimate acoustic rendition of Shinedown tunes, as well as some other unexpected surprises.
No stranger to breaking down their set acoustically, many fans may recall the unforgettable experience of the 2010’s .45 Acoustic Live Tour when the band toured together for storyteller like performances. Slightly different, this latest incarceration of acoustic shows is a result of Smith & Myers coming together to release their Acoustic Sessions and Acoustic Sessions, Pt. 2 Ep’s back in 2014. With that in mind, two fourths of Shinedown returned to Long Island New York on Sunday December 13th to host a show at The Paramount down in Huntington Village. Their first visit to the area since November 18th, 2010, when they brought .45 Acoustic Live to NYCB Theatre in Westbury, a festively decorated The Paramount was packed to near capacity as everyone anxiously awaited the shows beginning.
Setting the table for the rest of the evening, Singer-Songwriter Zack Mack was first to the stage. A hardworking musician from Memphis, Tennessee, Mack has toured the USA over solo, as well as with The Zack Mack Band. A close friend to Zach Myers, the two have recorded music together, along with toured as a team in the past. Now coming along as support for Smith & Myers, Mack would be making his first appearance to a Long Island crowd since 2011 when he and Myers hit Mulcahy’s in Centereach. Coming out with just himself and an acoustic guitar, Mack performed a list of original tunes that could best be described as passionate Blues/Country Rock influenced pieces of music. Grabbing the attention of the room with each song he performed, Mack also engaged the room with his personality.
Inviting Myers out onto the stage for a handful of songs, the two musicians united for a full sound that had many hollering for more. Playing originals such as “Pretty Things” and “Looking For a Lover,” Mack also sprinkled in some cool covers, including The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” as well as The Counting Crows “Mr. Jones.” Given the opportunity to play a lengthy set, Mack would have everyone showing great appreciation for his performance until he departed from the stage, but would return on occasion as a backing musician during Smith & Myers set. Those still foggy on who exactly Zack Mack is, it is recommended to check out his work along with his project with Myers, Justin Moore from Ingram Hill, and Chris Allen on their 2015 debut album, Just South of Moonlight.
Following a minor stage change over, considering there was only music stands, microphones, and stools, Smith & Myers were ready to bring their two-man show to The Paramount. Introduced by local radio station 94.3 FM The Shark, merely minutes after, Smith & Myers appeared and fittingly began with Stone Temple Pilots’ “Big Empty” in remembrance of Vocalist Scott Weiland. Still extremely fresh on the mind’s of Rock fans, Weiland was given a just tribute as Smith danced around the notes of the track with ease, giving it the life it deserves. In no rush to just offer up music, Smith & Myers took their time, let the moments breath, and conversated extensively between songs. In fact, the two musicians were humorous and loose, making the performance feel like it was held in one’s living room from the start. Accomplishing the feat with ease, they went into hit tracks “If You Only Knew” followed by “Second Chance” to a roar of cheers.
Showing their diverse musical influences, they would move into a plethora of other interesting covers, all choices which were recorded during their Acoustic Sessions EP a year earlier. One such song was Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters,” where once again Smith put on a haunting vocal performance, staying true to his own voice, but capturing the magic of the original. Going on to speak more extensively about their experiences behind Threat to Survival, Smith explained how many naysayers wanted to write Shinedown off. Smith would later go on to explain how the band would never put out the same record twice, not because they are trying to be different, but because they are true to themselves, and have a soul. With that said, they offered up a treat in the song “Never Gonna Let Go,” an older song from the Amaryllis sessions that did not make the record, but is now available as a Japanese bonus track on Threat to Survival. Receiving a positive reaction, Shinedown’s early hit “45” came before the energizing new hit, “Cut the Cord,” which saw many fans singing along.
Giving the spotlight solely to Myers, Smith exited briefly as his partner took center-stage, and, with a delightful personality, had audience members laughing and smiling. He then went into The Verve Pipe’s sober, but beautiful ’90s favorite “The Freshman,” and was flawless. Holding his own with emotional inflection at just the right moments, Myers ignited more crowd participation. Walking back out, Smith praised his friend in Myers and the two would end the first act with The Black Crowes “She Talks to Angels.” While in most cases an act change means an intermission, Smith & Myers seamlessly segued into act two, playing Amaryllis track “I’ll Follow You” before toe-tapping newbie “State of My Head.” Mixing it up with more cover tunes, Adele’s “Someone Like You” was a bold moment as Smith brought the hurt of the words to life in vivid fashion.
Keeping with the more mellow songs, Smith gave the audience insight into one he wrote with his father in mind, “Shed Some Light.” A self-reflective song, the words are ones anyone from any walk of life can relate with at some point. Perfectly followed by the equally as introspective “Call Me,” no voices were heard from the audience and all ears were fixed on the performance as Smith continued to wow. Picking it up a notch, Smith & Myers threw another surprise their fans way when they went into Phil Collins song “In The Air Tonight.” A naturally dark track defined by its ambiance, Smith & Myers’ rendition was filled with its own life with delicate moments, as well as those which erupted with excitement. With the voices from the audience becoming louder as the song moved along, it was a flawless selection for the evening. High on the moment, the show could have ended right there, but Smith & Myers had a few more tricks up their sleeve as they rocked into their signature cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” before closing with “Sound of Madness.”
Waving goodnight, Smith & Myers were no less exhilarating than a full electric Shinedown set. The two share a chemistry that runs deep and extended beyond the boundaries of just being musicians that perform with one another. These two are life-long friends who have stuck together through thick and thin. In fact, while to the average listener Myers’ name may only be associated with Shinedown since 2010’s The Sound of Madness, he has been behind the scenes with Smith and Shinedown long before that. With the Smith & Myers run completed as of December 19th, in the new year hopes are high to bring Shinedown back around as a full band for more shows. Although, for something different and equally as fun, there will always be a place for an up-close and personal Smith & Myers performance.