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Smith & Myers wow the crowd at Jannus Live

 

December 12th, 2020 St. Petersburgh FL

In a year of pandemics, social distancing, and lockdowns, things have been bleak. This has especially been true in the music industry. One of the first establishments to be shut down were the concert halls, which ultimately deprived fans of taking part in the most sacred thing in their lives, concerts. But even in the darkest of days a rare beam of light can shine through. One of these extraordinary days took place on December twelfth. Smith & Myers, one half of the iconic band Shinedown , the band that holds the record for the most number one rock hits, came to Jannus Live in St. Petersburg FL. On this magical night, they treated their music starved fans to a special blend of Shinedown hit songs, select cuts from Smith & Myers  latest effort, and a few surprise covers.

For those that remember that far flung time when concerts were a frequent event, there was always a great band that either the headline act knew well, or was an upcoming band just itching to burst on the scene. This night would be no different, as sharing the stage would be Allen Mack Myers Moore. It seemed as though there was a theme of only half the band in the house tonight. As Smith & Myers are half of Shinedown , only half of Allen Mack Myers Moore would be gracing the stage. For those that aren’t aware of it, The Myers in the name is the very same Zach Myers of Shinedown. Yes, he is part of this band when he isn’t performing with Shinedown. Tonight, Zack Mack and J.R. Moore would be representing the group on stage and playing their hearts out for the sold out crowd.  For the next thirty minutes these two put on an acoustic set that thoroughly entertained the music starved audience with their unique combination of blues, country, and rock.

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All images courtesy of Bruce Neufeld

As everyone sat at their tables while keeping a appropriate and safe distance apart in the open air courtyard that is Jannus Live, the nervous energy was palpable. All eyes were on the stage with everyone in disbelief that this event was actually going to happen. The stage was simply set. With just a Smith & Myers back drop along with two mic stands set on either side of the stage as well as  two more mic stands towards the back of the stage. There was no line up of huge amplifiers or a massive drum kit. This night wasn’t about bombast or an over the top rock production, this would be an intimate night of music.  Zach Myers finally made his way on to the stage, walked out to the center and waved at everyone, not surprisingly the crowd was cheering wildly. When Brent Smith joined him on stage and flashed his big smile at the crowd, if at all possible the cheers got even louder. They kicked off the show with “Panic!” off of their self-titled double album that was just released this year. From the opening staccato notes of Zach Myers acoustic guitar that accompanied  Brent Smith’s voice, everyone knew this would be a special night. Above and beyond that, this was the first tantalizing snippet of a real live concert everyone in Jannus Live would be witness to. One thing that anyone in earshot could tell you is Brent and Zach sounded too damned good. They followed things up “Coast To Coast” with another song from Smith & Myers . Joining them on stage was Zack Mack and J.R. Moore to lend a hand. For this number Zach left the guitar work to Zack while he took to the keyboards. What an astonishing song, that was performed brilliantly.

Two songs into their performance, and a couple things are obvious. The new material that Brent and Zach have created is incredible. Yes, this pandemic has caused so much pain. But if there could be a silver lining to all this, some fabulous music like Smith & Myers double album has been come from this as well. The other is, their latest creation is absolutely perfect for the type of intimate shows that they are managing to squeeze in. The stripped down performances fill a smaller venue perfectly. They can just let the songs breath and simply perform them, then let the audience take in every second of this unique event. As this was an intimate affair, there was no need for an over top light show. The simple mix of deep blues and red helped to create just the right atmosphere. Once again, there was no need for anything extra. Brent, Zach, and their music was far more than enough.

As the show progressed, Brent and Zach dipped back into their latest effort and decided to debut “The Weight Of It All”. With Just Zach on the keyboards and Brent singing it was truly a moving performance. Brent had just the right sense of urgency in delivering the lyrics.  Yes, this was a stripped down show with some very moving music being played. But here would be more to it, as in between songs they also entertained with just the two of them going back and forth. The deep friendship and comradery they share was on full display.  As most hardcore Shinedown fans, Zach Myers is fully in charge of putting together the nights setlist. Tonight, Zach told everyone that for the first time ever, Brent came to him and asked if he could put together tonight’s list.  Brent was beaming as Zach was telling the crowd all this. With that they promptly launched into some of Shinedown’s biggest hits. To hear “Second Chance” stripped down  with just an acoustic guitar, it was almost as if you were in a private rehearsal studio watching them playing it for the first time as a finished product. Of course, “State Of My Head”, “Sound Of Madness”, and “How Did You Love” were performed to absolute perfection.

During one of the great stories that Brent was relating to the crowd, he talked about one of the songs that didn’t make it onto their album Amaryllis. He said that while they really liked the song, they just couldn’t fit it into the album. They fully intended to get the song out there at some point as it meant a great deal to him. They were just waiting for the right opportunity.  With the pandemic in full swing, they finally found a truly fitting time and released the song “Atlas Falls” to help raise money as well as to help deliver an uplifting message during these hard times. It goes without saying that they delivered a truly moving performance of the song.

Yes, the music is what helps make a show great and, on that point, Smith & Myers delivered. But the banter between the two was a show unto itself.  With Zach at times wryly dropping some double entendre’s only to have Brent reel him back in. At one point Zach was talking about a past performance. In the story, he related that when Brent is talking, he likes to calmly strums some pleasant chords on his guitar, which he is doing as he is telling everyone this. He goes onto say that Brent told the audience that next year they will be releasing a Smith & Myers double album. At that point Zach let everyone know that was the first time he had heard anything about it, and with that he went from strumming nicely to deliberately playing poorly in disbelief at what he heard. Meanwhile, during all of this Brent is chuckling at the story. His excuse was if you put it out into the universe it will happen all the while laughing as he said this. Of, course there were far too many stories and laughs to relate.

Certainly, Shinedown has an amazing catalog of songs that could easily fill many nights with music, and Smith & Myers as a duo have written some stunning new material. They have also recorded some of their favorite songs from other artists on their new double album as well. During tonight’s show, they showcased some of these favored songs of theirs.  At one point midway through the concert, Brent gave a heartfelt introduction to his bandmate Zach. He then walked off the stage leaving the spotlight to Zach. Taking a seat behind the keyboards, Zach was joined by his bandmates Zack and J.R.  They played an incredible version of “Learning To Fly” by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. As good as he sounded with that, he uncorked one helluva performance with the classic Bob Seger song “Night Moves” . Other songs covered were INXS “Never Tear Us Apart”, “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins, and yes they even included the iconic drum breakdown which was played by J.R. Moore. During “Rockin’ In The Free World” Zach Mack unleased some vicious slide guitar work that absolutely wowed everyone.

In normal times, when there is plenty of entertainment to be had and your choice of concert to see, the show that Smith & Myers put on would stand head and shoulders above the rest. With a perfect blend of music, and stories, delivered in an intimate setting by half of one of the greatest rock bands out there, this show was a music lovers dream. Now transport that very same show to a bleak time, when everyone is desperate for a break from all the terrible news surrounding them. It now becomes a godsend.  The timing and message couldn’t possibly have been any better. Together, we will all get through this and concerts like tonight’s will be the reward waiting for us when things return to normal.

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All Images courtesy of Bruce Neufeld

Allen Mack Myers Moore:

Smith & Myers:

   

Jannus Live:

Setlist:

  1. Panic!
  2. Coast to Coast
  3. One More Time
  4. The Weight of It All
  5. State of My Head
  6. Second Chance
  7. Sound of Madness
  8. How Did You Love
  9. Atlas Falls
  10. (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay
  11. Learning to Fly
  12. Night Moves
  13. Bad at Love
  14. Never Tear Us Apart
  15. Not Mad Enough
  16. In the Air Tonight
  17. Rockin’ in the Free World
  18. Simple Man
  19. New School Shiver

 

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