Shinedown, if nothing else, has always been a monster when it comes to a live setting – anyone who has filled a seat at one of their shows throughout the years can attest to that. Now, with that in mind, one would think that the bands recently released Somewhere in the Stratosphere live CD/DVD couldn’t miss, and while there is a level of validity to that point, it isn’t entirely true.
Somewhere in the Stratosphere is a lengthy, comprehensive collection of what Shinedown is able to accomplish when taking the stage, and is split into two sections - the first titled Live from Washington State (Electric Show) and the second titled Live from Kansas City (Acoustic Show). The electric portion finds Shinedown shot out of the gate like a rocket propelled grenade with zealous outings “Sound of Madness” and “Devour” leading the charge, though it doesn’t take long, namely “I Dare You,” for the concert to hit a snag. The following “Cyanide Sweet Tooth Suicide” sounds robotic, though “Diamond Eyes” redeems the show a bit with fist-pumping drives and crowd interaction. Unfortunately, two of the bands most recognizable cuts, “.45” and “Simple Man” fail to live up to their lofty billing, but there should be no doubt that frontman Brent Smith always remains at the top of his game. His emotional, powerful delivery never seems to waver, even when things going on around him are seemingly lacking. Be sure not to miss “the Crow and the Butterfly” and “Her Name is Alice,” two highlights from Live from Washington State.
The following acoustic portion of Somewhere in the Stratosphere, Live from Kansas City, is a bit lost as a mere accompaniment to the electric portion, but it’s clear that it is the better half. Smith’s vocal’s trend somehow more bleeding heart and raw here, with the band following suit, armed with acoustic guitars and little else. Aside from the fact that Shinedown treats listeners to three cover tunes – “Simple Man” (Lynyrd Skynyrd), “Times Like These” (Foo Fighters) and “With a Little Help From My Friends” (the Beatles), Live from Kansas City offers up a handful of tunes not to be missed, including acoustic renditions of “If You Only Knew” and “Call Me.”
Though Live from Kansas City might be the superior in audio on Somewhere in the Stratosphere, the DVD portion of the show is the best piece of the pie here. Even though it comes far too close to Live from Washington State in terms of sound, Shinedown’s live show is something that needs to be seen, not just heard.
While Somewhere in the Stratosphere falls short in some respect of fully capturing what Shinedown is capable of when given a stage and an audience, there is still enough here to make this collection of CDs and DVDs a must own for any fan.
Listen to: “Her Name is Alice”