PEORIA, Ill. — Shinedown returned to the stage Saturday night as part of their 2022 “The Revolution’s Live” tour. Packed into the Peoria Civic Center, the tour’s massive stage filled the floor before being engulfed by the throngs of fans filling the arena.
The crowd of fans was so large, in fact, that they kept pouring in as the house lights went out, despite the door opening earlier than expected. They came out in force to announce another sign of a “return to normal” with live tours criss-crossing the country once again.
First on stage Saturday was one of the new queens of the rock scene. Even without the previously synonymous blue locks, Diamante came out swinging, delivering a one-two with rocker “Ghost Myself” and in “Haunted,” her first mainstream single of 2017. Backed by Logan Nikolic on guitar, Matthew Denis on lead bass and Joe Conner behind the kit, Diamante performed in front of the crowd through his far too short set. The title track from his album “American Dream” led to the final single “I Love Myself for Hating You”. The Goo Goo Dolls singer’s hit cover “Iris” took the crowd by storm before the evening’s final songs, ending with “War Cry,” leaving the crowd absolutely ready for more.
The middle of Saturday’s lineup was filled with The Pretty Reckless. For this tour, I actually learned about the date of The Pretty Reckless before all the other acts, and I was from that point on. From the time I started covering shows regularly, this band was on my ‘wish’ list, but events conspired to make it a challenge, including a hiatus from touring after the death of the Momsen’s friend Chris Cornell at the close of the world in 2020, just before the start of a new tour.
Fronted by actor-turned-rocker Taylor Momsen, The Pretty Reckless also features Mark Damon on bass, Ben Phillips on lead guitar and drummer Jamie “Caveman” Perkins. This line-up has been together for over a decade now, with four full-length consumer albums, the latest being 2021’s “Death by Rock and Roll.” Saturday’s set kicked off with a tribute to Cornell with a cover of “Loud Love” by Soundgarden, then “Since You’re Gone”. Momsen took center stage, prowling the stage like a cat looking for its next prey, as the band sounded tight and connected, even after their long absence from the road. The new album’s title track was followed by “Only Love Can Save Me Now”. The band’s biggest hits had Peoria audiences screaming, including the almost sung chorus of “Heaven Knows” and “Going to Hell.” Closing the set with “Take Me Down”, it’s a very easy statement for me to say that the wait to see The Pretty Reckless live, although endless at times, was worth it.
Beginning with a video showing how the world descended into the chaos of crisis and lockdown two years ago, the Shinedown set opened with a triumphant return, with the release of frontman Brent Smith, guitarist Zach Myers , bassist Eric Bass and drummer Barry Kerch, first in silhouette, shoulder to shoulder, to center stage. It was the kind of march you see a band do to close a show, but it seemed like these four were greeting the audience in a direct way. After a brief moment of waves in the crowd, Myers, Bass and Kerch rushed to grab their gear and get the show started, literally.
To put it simply, I have seen many shows with jets of flames shooting from the stage. Usually they are at the back of the stage, accenting the performers from behind and sweeping the crowd with a wave of heat. On Saturday night, amid “Saints of Violence and Innuendo,” the Shinedown stage was lined with these jets, including a pair at the front of the push into the crowd. Being just two or three feet from these flame towers is an intense experience, to put it mildly.
This warmth ran through the whole show. After the opening number, “Devil” and “Planet Zero,” the lead single from the forthcoming album of the same name, set the crowd up for a long night of killer tunes. Playing a 19-song set spanning all of the band’s eras, including 2003’s single “45”, 2008’s hit “Second Chance” and 2015’s “State of My Head”. Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins with Bass and Myers covering that band’s “Wheels”. The show ended with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s cover of “Simple Man” and then “Sound of Madness”. When the house lights came back on at the end of the night, the crowd knew without a doubt that they had seen a pure rock spectacle.
“The Revolution’s Live” tour continues through early May before Shinedown flies out for a series of European shows and returns this summer for another leg across the country. If you’ve been thinking about going out to see one of the shows near you, get off that fence and take the plunge. Screaming guitars, screaming voices, screaming fans and fire is what summers are for if you’re a rock and roll fan.