Shinedown at Soaring Eagle in Mount Pleasant, MI

Shinedown fire up their fanbase with a blazing sold-out show at Soaring Eagle with support from Theory of a Deadman and Pop Evil.

For most fans tonight, it has been 18 months or more since they have seen a live show by a national touring act. You can sense their anticipation with throngs of people tailgating in the parking lot and those already inside waiting in long lines to grab the latest t-shirts and other merchandise of their favorite bands. While it had rained earlier in the day, the weather by showtime is in the high seventies with partly sunny skies and the fans are ready to get rocking.

Pop Evil gets things started with an eight-song set. Hailing from Muskegon, MI, Pop Evil has a solid fanbase in the state and you can tell from the loud audience response that their fans have shown up tonight. They kick it off with “Deal With the Devil” from the 2013 album Onyx, and follow it up with one of their heaviest songs, “Let The Chaos Reign,” from their 2021 album Versatile.  Half of their set consists of songs from Versatile including “Survivor,” “Work,” and “Breathe Again.” 

The band has a different look this time around with long-time bassist Matt Dirito having recently left. Filling in for him is Devour the Day bassist Joey Walser and he seems to be fitting in well and plays up to the crowd with poses atop the drum riser, and until recently, drummer Hayley Cramer was stuck in the UK with travel approval issues, but she is back in the fold tonight and tearing it up. As always, Davey Grahs and Nick Fuelling provide the riffs and leads that propel the songs. Vocalist Leigh Kakaty rarely stands still as he works the crowd from side to side, raising his arms in the air and the mic stand to garner cheers from the audience.

For one of their fan-favorite songs “Trenches,” Leigh brings out Devour the Day singer Blake Allison. This song has the fans waving their arms in the air as they sing along. They close out their set with another hard-hitting song, “Waking the Lions” from their 2018 album Pop Evil. The fans love their home state heroes and can catch them again in the fall when they headline some shows in Detroit and Flint.

Keeping the momentum going, Canadian rockers Theory of a Deadman take the stage to rousing cheers. Pretty much the whole crowd is on their feet as they launch into “Lowlife” from the 2011 album The Truth is…, and keep it rolling with hits “Bitch Came Back” and “Blow.” The sound is rock solid and clear and the band members are highly active with singer/guitarist Tyler Connolly using the whole stage and bassist Dean Back bouncing around and joining guitarist Dave Brenner in front of the drum riser. Drummer Joey Dandeneau pounds the skins while thrashing his head about. They came to rock tonight and gave the fans a treat.

Their set pulls from six of their seven albums and includes a solid mix of hits from across them. Several come from their multi-platinum 2008 album Scars & Souvenirs including “Not Meant to Be,” “So Happy,” and “Hate My Life.” During “Hate My Life” the crowd is very engaged as they sing along and pump their fists in the air. The set also includes “History of Violence” and “World Keeps Spinning” from their 2020 release Say Nothing.

One of the highlights of the set is when they start playing “Nutshell” by Alice in Chains. After jamming it a bit, Tyler introduces the song “Santa Monica” from the 2005 album Gasoline, a song he says they try to play every show. He also mentions that even though times are tough, music is the thing that pulls us together and gets us through. Tyler went on to joke with the crowd that the humidity is not good for his hair and gets some great audience laughter. With an intro of “Paradise City,” they close out their set with their chart-topping hit “Bad Girlfriend” that has the crowd dancing and singing out loud. 

Finally, the time has arrived for the headliner Shinedown to rock the house. The lights go down and the fans erupt as they open with “Cut the Cord.” Singer Brent Smith is truly a great singer and frontman and knows how to work the crowd. He stalks the stage and loves to point out to the crowd and has this somewhat devious look at times where he stares to one side along with a grin. Whatever it is he does, it works because the crowd is eating it up. Guitarist Zach Myers is also highly active as he also works the whole stage and bounces and jumps around, and joins bassist Eric Bass many times as they rock out. Filling in on drums for a few weeks is Dustin Steinke from Sixx: A.M. while Barry Kerch quarantines from a recent positive test for COVID-19.

The next song, “Unity,” takes it up a notch as it features several explosions with sparks shooting in the air. They then take it way back to their first album Leave a Whisper with the radio staple “Fly From The Inside.” An early highlight in the show is another song, “45,” from that first album. Before the song, he mentions just how much Michigan has meant to them going all the way back to that album.

It is hard to believe that Shinedown has been around for 20 years, but only have six studio releases. However, every one of those releases has been a huge success and in total have produced 27 top five hits and helped them sell over 10 million albums. The set tonight has a mix of songs from all them including songs “If You Only Knew,” “Save Me,” “State of My Head,” “Diamond Eyes,” “I’ll Follow You,” and “How Did You Love.”

There are many highlights in the show, but the following stand out. With a lengthy jam that that has the crowd jumping, they go into the hard-rocking “Enemies” that has the crowd singing out in unison and also features lots of pyro and explosions. They follow that up with “Devil” which begins with the stage in red lights while some eerie music with chimes/bells plays. Brent takes some time to talk about the show the previous day in Iowa and Mother Nature. Having rained all day, he says he asked her for a few hours of no rain before the show and she obliged. Then for the Soaring Eagle show, a similar situation happened and Mother Nature obliged again. He then asks everyone to take out their lighters and/or cell phones and light up the sky since none are visible. The crowd obliged and kept them on throughout the hit song “Get Up.” Now that is what bringing fans together is all about.

Winding down the main portion of their set, they play a trio of songs that has the crowd really fired up. “Bully” from Amaryllis has a large portion of the audience moving and singing along, and then “Monsters” from their latest release is full of pryo with huge flames shooting into the air near the front of the stage. Shinedown has always been known for having great live shows and tonight they do not disappoint. They close it out with one of their biggest hits, “Second Chance,” which shows off Brent’s soaring vocals and gets a huge amount of applause and whistles from the fans.

Returning to the stage, they finish the show with two more fans favorites. First is their awesome cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” which once again shows off the vocal range and control of Brent Smith. And wrapping it up is “Sound of Madness.” The fans surely got their money’s worth tonight.

Be sure to catch Shinedown and all of the bands when they come to a venue near your town.

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About Gary Pahlow 62 Articles
Gary is located in Rochester Hills, MI and has been officially photographing and writing concert reviews since early 2016. His main music interests are metal and hard rock, but he is also a fan of most genres including alternative, indie, jazz, and even some pop and country. When not covering or attending concerts, you can find him traveling with his wife or watching the Detroit Red Wings.