In concert: Shinedown at Warner Theatre
Shinedown are at the forefront of the oxymoronic sensitive hard rock genre, a mix that radio programmers currently love and depends on loud guitars and drums and confess-til-it-hurts lyrics. Wednesday at Warner Theatre, Shinedown turned down the volume and cranked up the confessions.
The Jacksonville band, touring semi-unplugged and with tattoos semi-covered up, didn't introduce touchy-feely to metal: Metallica dropped its hard-as-calculus pose with the 2004 reality psycho-drama "Some Kind of Monster." But no body-inked headbanger flaunts his mental wounds more than Shinedown frontman/vocalist Brent Smith. He choked up while crediting a drug habit, since kicked, with inspiring "Save Me." He almost broke down before performing "If You Only Knew," explaining it was written about getting the surprise news that he'd be a father, and again introducing ".45," about an acquaintance who was suicidal as an adolescent but survived and now thrives as an adult. "He's happy!" Smith said, suppressing tears of joy. His spoken intros, each one heavier and more earnest than the last, fired up the crowd even more than the music, even as the band shined brighter in the stripped-down live format than it does on rock radio.
And whenever he stopped talking, geez, did Smith show he can belt out a song. He melded the shriek of Ronnie James Dio with the polish of Robert Goulet, and the grand theater's chandeliers shook during even the emo-est Shinedown material, as well as on covers of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" and Foo Fighters "Times Like These." If only BP had pipes so strong.
At night's end, before rendering his own "Second Chance" Smith pleaded with fans to chase their own dreams. And, sure, he got weepy.