Never underestimate the power of a singalong song. Rock quartet Alter Bridge’s concerts are full of the heavy riffs, power chords and intricate musicianship you would expect from one of America’s premiere hard rock quartets. But the band has come to appreciate the power of a song it can sing with the audience.
Alter Bridge’s Nov. 9 show in Luxembourg started with a pummeling, four-song introduction: “Silver Tongue” from the band’s new album, Pawns & Kings, “Addicted to Pain” from 2013’s Fortress, “Before Tomorrow Comes” from 2007’s Blackbird and another new track, “This is War.”
“You hit them hard for four songs,” guitarist Mark Tremonti tells Billboard’s Behind the Setlist podcast. “And then, if they need to take a breath, you’ve got to have some dynamics.” In Luxembourg, and at other stops on the band’s European tour, that moment was the song “Broken Wings,” from the band’s 2004 debut One Day Remains.
“Fans always sing along to ‘Broken Wings’,” says Tremonti, who co-founded Alter Bridge in 2004 after the breakup of band that first took him to stardom, Creed. “I think [a sing-along is] the most powerful thing in a set. You could play heavy, complex songs, but if a fan doesn’t sing along to it or get into it, it’s not going to have as much impact. ‘Broken Wings’ is an easy song to play but as a huge impact because people are so familiar with it [that] they sing along to.”
Bandmate and Alter Bridge co-founder Myles Kennedy agrees. “There’s something to be said about hearing those choruses sang back to you,” says Kennedy, also known for his work with Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash. “And it’s powerful. It really feels like there’s a connection.”
The end of a concert is a good time for a singalong, too. Says Tremonto Recently, the band’s encores have featured “Slip to the Void,” the lead-off track from 2010 and “Open Your Eyes” from One Day Remains. “Sometimes when you play heavier songs, there’s kind of a border between you and your fans,” says Tremonti. “There’s you doing the songs and there’s the fans listening. But when you play these singalong songs, you’re all kind of one in the room. I think that’s the way you want to leave the concert: you want to get that that personal touch back. And when we play ‘Open Your Eyes,’ there’s the bridge section that really breaks down. Myles would pause as long as he wants to get the crowd to anticipate what’s coming, and then they all sing along and it’s a ‘we’re all one now’ kind of a thing before the concert is over. I think that’s important.”
Alter Bridge’s European tour wraps up at London’s O2 Arena on Dec. 12. A U.S. tour begins on Jan. 25 in Orlando, Fla., and continues to Upland, Calif., on April 1.