LIVE: Shinedown / Jelly Roll / John Harvie @ Saratoga Performing Arts Center, 09/14/2022

On Wednesday night, Shinedown brought its Planet Zero 2022 tower blasting in the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. The Jacksonville natives have spent much of 2022 on the road supporting the album and show no signs of exhaustion or illness from being in a touring rock band. They brought a slick rock production with enough pyro to take us into space, a flying and glowing piano, huge projection screens and songs that truly make them one of the best of their generation.

John Harvie (photo by Amy Klemme)

Michael Buffer’s familiar rumble call hit the ticket, as John Harvie kicked off the evening. Harvie’s music sounded more like Riddick Bowe than Mike Tyson. Harvie, obviously inspired by Good Charlotte and Lit, took us through familiar old neighborhoods, with sing-alongs and enough weaving and weaving to make you giddy. Her song “Bleach (On the Rocks)” got the best response of the set.

After Harvie, Jelly Roll took the stage in a mullet, denim jacket and southern fervor and swagger the size of the Smoky Mountains. Judging by the crowd, they felt lucky to be at the counter waiting for Jelly’s mix of country, hip hop and rock. Mainly playing songs from his latest album, Ballads of the Broken, the SPAC crowd was there to soak in and smoke out. Jelly Roll has demonstrated that he grew up a shredder of musical tastes (and his country band too). Their medley of “Sweet Home Alabama”/”Smells Like Teen Spirit”/”99 Problems”/”Killing in the Name of”/”Beer Never Broke My Heart” was a perfect example. Shinedown guitarist Zach Myers even lent his vocals to rap for the medley during Jay-Z’s downfall.

Jelly Roll, Zach Myers (photo by Amy Klemme)

“Son of a Sinner” had the crowd chanting every word. Jelly Roll’s musical themes cover all the struggles that chemicals, mental illness and the streets have. His current number one hit, “Dead Man Walking,” kept everyone on their toes. Where they would stay for the rest of the evening. “Save Me,” the closer set, brought out all the cellphone lights and sent Jelly Roll back on the bus, in love with Saratoga.

Then it was time for the headliners to appear.

The screens opened and Shinedown took the stage in a meditative show of gratitude and unity. Lead singer Brent Smith pointed to the sky, touched his heart, and launched a missile that spun in orbit for nearly two hours. Smith, along with guitarist Zach Myers, bassist Eric Bass and drummer Barry Kerch were close, in sync and on message. This message: how you live and love is the legacy you leave.

Smith had an almost perfect voice, strong and flowing like his stature. Smith spends a lot of time in the gym as part of her wellness plan, and the work shows. No signs of real fatigue, vocal or otherwise. Smith ordered everyone to be careful, and they were careful. Especially when he asked for participation.

Shinedown (photo by Amy Klemme)

From the pounding rage of the opener, “The Saints of Violence and Innuendo” and throughout, the message was anti-groupthink and pro-seeing the world with a larger vision. Smith’s life as a recovered drug addict paints his lyrics with the optimism of someone who has returned from the clutches of the dragon to complete his hero’s journey.

Rockers like “Bully”, “Enemies” and “Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)” would bring thundering explosions and heat. The crowd was in, and you could tell many had this show on their waiting list for a long time. Although the house smelled like a new dispensary, I saw families sharing the bond of live music. Justine and Brian, a couple ahead of me who I spoke with, had brought their nine-year-old son, Cameron, for his first concert experience. The one he will never forget.

The most powerful parts of the evening were when Smith and company slowed down and got introspective. “Get Up”, “Crow and the Butterfly” and “Daylight” were accompanied by a house full of cellphone lights that reminded us that the universe is within, literally and metaphorically. Smith spoke eloquently of the pain and trauma we have all endured over the past few years.

Brent Smith of Shinedown (photo by Amy Klemme)

September being Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month, Smith said we are never alone and someone will listen if we ask for help. Smith talked about how important we are as human beings and being here is a gift. They also put money in the pot. Shinedown Stocks, the group’s way of giving back, directly supports organizations. Two close to my heart are the National Association of Mental Illnesses (NAMI) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

Complete with the actual recording of Casey Kasem’s original joke, Shinedown launched into “Second” Chance as the one-of-a-kind DJ announced the song was number one on the Top 40 countdown. surreal experience, I’m sure.

The show ended with a band sans Brent Smith allowing guitarist Myers and multi-talented Bass to trade verses to the Oasis tune, “Don’t Look Back In Anger.” When Myers prompted the audience to sing the chorus, there was little singing. To my dismay, it’s as if the world has forgotten about the Gallagher brothers.

Shinedown (photo by Amy Klemme)

Following the less than stellar song, Smith asked Jelly Roll to return for a performance of Skynyrd’s “Simple Man”, which was the precursor to “Sound of Madness”, which closed out the monster set.

Shinedown will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its first album, leave a whisperin 2023. The Planet Zero tour ends in December.

Photo gallery by Amy Klemme