Shinedown, Puddle Of Mudd, Skillet At The Nokia Theatre Nyc
by Michael Menachem
Shinedown’s recent show at the Nokia Theatre in Times Square offered something for all fans of rock. With PUDDLE OF MUDD and Skillet supporting, Shinedown and company delivered a thrashing good time, whether pumping some adrenaline-heavy metal tracks, sharing some nostalgic tunes or playing hits that reminded everyone why the trio of bands are in demand.
Brent Smith, lead singer of Shinedown entered the stage in his signature all-black attire – leather jacket and sunglasses included – with a lively opening of “Sound of Madness” from their most recent release of the same name (“THE SOUND OF MADNESS.”) The speakers lining the back of the stage were stacked diagonally like tetris pieces, with pulsing red lights blaring while the guitars were shred on another recent single “Devour.” Smith was intense the whole way through but his commanding stage presence was especially noticeable on this one. The lights went white, blurring the images of the band to zero visibility and then abruptly went to black.
By the time the roaring “Save Me” ended with a memorable guitar solo by Zach Myers and Smith’s strong vocal, everyone in the crowd was jumping and dancing.
A solemn and chilling guitar strum opened the next song, with cries that sounded like a violin, but it was really a guitar. By now, Smith’s sunglasses were off and the melody revealed that it was the band’s biggest hit to date, “If You Only Knew.” Smith hung with one outstretched arm on the mic stand, head down and eventually grabbed the mic with two hands during this powerful rendition with a great section from bass player Eric Bass and heavier drums than what can be heard on the recording.
“Hello New York!” shouted Brent Smith. He continued his introduction of the band and warmed everyone up by urging fans to look to either side of them and shake the hands of the people next to them and they did. “It’s your show,” said Smith. He also told the crowd to get up out of their seats, “1, 2, 3, GO!” and they obliged.
Later in the show the band slowed it down and Myers sat on the lofted stairs strumming away while Smith said “Zach’s gonna play and I’m gonna sing a song by my favorite artist of all time.” He dedicated it to “the legendary Atlantic Records” and soon it was revealed that OTIS REDDING’s classic “(Sittin’ On) THE DOCK OF THE BAY” was that tune, played with a bluesy essence. By the end of the cover, all bandmates were up, rocking away.
Another highlight was “The Crow & the Butterfly” with a notable guitar solo reminiscent of some of the best from 70s and 80s rock bands.
For Shinedown’s encore, Myers was on acoustic guitar with Smith at the mic stand for “Simple Man.” Smith got on the riser at the front of the stage, one knee on the floor and finished with a final, drawn out note. After collecting himself, Smith said, “New York, this is our last song of the night. Feel like singing it with us?” Everyone in the crowd knew what was coming – a pretty instrumental led up to “Second Chance” and concluded with a rousing applause.
Puddle of Mudd opened prior to Shinedown, feeding the crowd’s appetite with rock with their hit “Control” as the audience sang along happily, “I love the way you look at me, I love the way you smack my ass, I love the dirty things you do.” Lead singer Wes Scantlin’s nonchalant attitude was perfect for the mood of the set which included songs like “FAMOUS” and “She Hates Me” with the crowd screaming the lyrics in a call & response pattern, “she fucking hates me,” alternating with Scantlin. Signature song “Blurry” resonated in meaning and instrumentation today as it has in the past, with a tight arrangement and guitar effects and vocals that were both haunting and beautiful. Puddle of Mudd also took a moment with their song “Thinking About You” in which Scantlin provided a dedication, “this one’s for Haiti man.”
Skillet kicked the evening off with “Hero” and guitarist Ben Kasica impressed with his solo on “Whispers In The Dark.” A violinist, cellist and keyboardist were joined delivering the highlight of the set “AWAKE & Alive” in which lead singer John Cooper and 20-year-old drummer Jen Ledger traded off some memorable and powerful vocals. The two male string players were lively as they pumped their fists in the air, bows in hand alongside the members of Skillet. Cooper said power ballad “Believe” was “for the ladies” and recent single “Monster” provided some rock flavor that left listeners wanting more.