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Shinedown, Bush + Airbourne Summon Rock Revival in Springfield, Mass.

Mary Ouellette, SheWillShootYou.com

Back in January of 2012, Shinedown frontman Brent Smith issued a bit of a challenge to rock fans asking them to rise up, take a stand and declare the return of rock. Since that time, Shinedown has been proudly carrying the torch, bringing their formidable live show from coast to coast with a force fueled by the fists of a legion of loyal rockers.

In fact, one might even surmise that Shinedown are addicted to the road. Since the release of ‘Amaryllis’ back in March of 2012, Brent Smith, Zach Myers, Eric Bass and Barry Kerch have been consummate road warriors, headlining tour after tour, proving that the best way to get their point across is to stage an audio revolution. Their revolution rolled into the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield, Mass., this week (May 1) stacked deep with the talent of Bush and Airbourne rounding out the triple bill.

The mates in Airbourne kicked off the night turning things up to eleven. Hailing from Australia and often evoking comparisons to AC/DC, Airbourne chugged through their set at a frenetic pace with lots of head-banging and guitar shredding, setting a high-energy tone for the night. While their set was short, their impact was felt, quite literally, as frontman Joel O’Keeffe hopped on the shoulders of a member of his road crew and was carried through the crowd as he played guitar. Fearless and fun, Airbourne’s third disc ‘Black Dog Barking’ comes out later this month on May 21.

For a band coming off of a recent reunion after taking close to a decade off, Bush haven’t lost a beat. Mixing their monster hits from the ‘90s with new songs from their 2011 release ‘The Sea of Memories,’ Gavin Rossdale and Bush stirred up feelings of nostalgia while paving the road for a bright future.

Although Rossdale didn’t stop to say much verbally to the crowd, his music did all the talking necessary. Between dropping to his knees to play guitar and jamming with guitarist Chris Traynor, Rossdale seduced the crowd with almost sheer precision.

After ‘The Chemicals Between Us’ and ‘Everything Zen’ but before ‘Little Things,’ Bush sprung into a cover of The Beatles ‘Come Together.’ During the song, Rossdale made fast work of the arena crowd, running through the general admission floor, up the stairs to the third tier, and back down again, stopping only to share a chorus or a wink with fans in the crowd. His jaunt through the audience included one woman in a wheelchair on the second floor who probably never thought she’d see Rossdale up that close and personal from her seat so far away.

The end of Bush’s set featured Rossdale alone on the stage with only his guitar for ‘Glycerine.’ While I’m not sure if it was planned or just some technical difficulty, towards the end of the song Rossdale tossed aside the guitar and all that was left was his voice, sending chills throughout the crowd. He was then rejoined by the rest of the band to end the night with ‘Comedown,’ cutting us right back down to size.

It was now up to Shinedown to close out the evening on a high note. The dangers of touring so much during one cycle is the propensity to fall into old routines and for things to become stale on stage – but not for Shinedown. Their chemistry onstage is infectious and the passion they have for the music they are making permeates throughout the crowd, casting a spell like Dorothy Gale on poppies (look it up).

Soundwise, Shinedown has always run a pretty tight ship but they’ve really never sounded better. Smith’s vocals soar out over smooth melodies and slinky riffs. Myers, Kerch and Bass get down and dirty during the rockers but know how to tone it down a bit when the softer side of Shinedown is on display.

Their set list was, as expected, heavy on ‘Amaryllis’ tunes and peppered with past hits like ‘Sound of Madness’ and ’45.’ While their live version of ‘Simple Man’ is one that is best heard live rather than described, let’s just say they pay homage to many musical greats throughout the performance, showing off that they are as much fans of rock as they are leading purveyors of the genre.

The staying power of ‘Amaryllis,’ with four successful singles and another on the way, is just further proof that rock is most definitely not dead, in fact, head out to a Shinedown show in your town and you’ll never feel more alive.

 Photos of Shinedown, Bush + Airbourne in Springfield, Mass.:

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