May 01--WILKES-BARRE TWP. -- The guys in Shinedown may be rockers, but that doesn't mean they don't know how to give their fervent fans a classy, polished show.
The band, with the reconfigured 1990s favorite Bush, treated the crowd of about 2,000 to a night of alternative, grungy rock on Tuesday at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
A large drop cloth, emblazoned with the Shinedown logo, hid the stage from the audience before the band's set. It dropped to reveal the band dressed in sport coats and vests, with lead singer Brent Smith punching his way into "Enemies," from their 2012 album, "Amaryllis."
"Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvaaaaania," he greeted the crowd, checking how many were seeing the band for the first time. "Now, are you ready to see what a real rock and roll show looks like?"
That led into the fast and heavy "Devour," from 2008's "The Sound of Madness," with Kerch singing from a riser at the front of the minimalist, all-in-black stage. The band used eye-catching light patterns and ear-catching beats to introduce many songs, like "Save Me" and "Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)" -- the latter written for the 2010 film "The Expendables" and used as a World Wrestling Entertainment theme song.
They introduced one of their latest hits, "Unity," with a recording from Charlie Chaplin's speech in the film "The Great Dictator" -- "You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this night a wonderful adventure."
As the frontman, Smith kept the show flowing along as the group ran through their catalogue of hits, though each band member got their own time in the spotlight. He engaged the audience frequently, urging the audience to wave their hands during songs like "The Crow and the Butterfly," off "The Sound of Madness."
"Ladies and gentlemen, hands up," Smith said, waving his own, "and side to side."
He mused on the reasons that brought the band and audience together that night, and that music has on people.
"What were those songs that made to feel strong again? --feel alive again? That made you want to fight?" Smith said. "Rock is no genre of music. Rock and roll? That's a way of life."
When Bush appeared, the audience screamed with delight, those on the floor pressing up against the barrier and holding up cellphones to take pictures as soon as the lights went up.
The band, making their comeback after a few years away from the stage, kicked it off with one of their biggest '90s hits "Machinehead."
Lead singer Gavin Rossdale proved he can still rock a microphone with his signature raspy voice. He delighted many audience members by jumping off the stage and into the crowd while belting out the Beatles' "Come Together." He hopped the barrier and wound his way down the seats, stopping to sing surrounded by women, holding one girl's hand through a chorus, and have his arm rubbed by another who booked down the stairs to get to him. And he still looks quite fine rocking the guitar and bopping around onstage, in a sleeveless shirt that showed off his muscular arms.
Oh right, the music!
The band showed off a few tracks from their latest -- and the first since reuniting -- 2011's "The Sea of Monsters," with "All My Life" and the most popular, "The Sound of Winter." The latter topped the Billboard Alternative and Rock charts. Attendees also got a first listen to their brand new song "This House is on Fire."
"So how you've guys been?" Rossdale asked, gauging the crowd's happiness. "It's a perfect night. It's a perfect situation."
While the crowd seemed to appreciate the band's newer material, Bush's '90s hit list got the greatest response, from the familiar heavy beats during the intro to "The Chemicals Between Us," to the crushing riffs and flashing lights on "Everything Zen."
Throughout the performance, Rossdale and his bandmates looked like they were having a great time on stage, feeding off the crowd's energy. They appeared well aware of their first album's appeal, playing five songs from their 1994 debut "Sixteen Stone" -- wait, it's been almost 20 years since that came out? That's hard to believe, given their lively performance.
They finished the night with a long guitar-heavy introduction into their breakout hit from that album, "Comedown." Overall, the band gave the eager crowd exactly what they wanted -- vintage Bush, with some new tricks.
(c)2013 The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)
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