Smith & Myers at Northlands Live, Swanzey, NH – May 15, 2021
When Shinedown rolls into town, often times singer Brent Smith and guitarist Zach Myers will make an appearance at the local radio station, and play a couple of acoustic songs. Stations occasionally would ask them to play a cover, but since Shinedown is so well known for their cover of Lynyrd Skynard’s “Simple Man,” they didn’t really want to play other covers as Shinedown. That led to them creating their side project, Smith & Myers.
In 2020, Smith & Myers released two albums, Volume 1 and, you guessed it, Volume 2. Across these two albums they recorded ten cover songs, and wrote their first ten original songs for them, as well.
As it turned out, 2020 wasn’t a great year to get out and perform new music. In the fall, they went out on a run of dates performing at drive-in venues. One of those shows was in Swanzey, NH, at the venue now known as Northlands Live. As the world is starting to move back towards normal, they came back to Swanzey, only this time the venue is set up with socially distanced pods, instead of a parking lot of people watching from their cars.
Joining them again on the tour is JR Moore and Zack Mack, half of Zach Myers’ other side project, Allen, Mack, Myers, Moore.
JR Moore and Zack Mack
Mack and Moore played a half hour set to get the audience warmed up, consisting of folk acoustic originals, like you can find on the AMMM albums, as well as some covers, like “Heartache Tonight,” by the Eagles. For many people here, myself included, this was the first live performance seen since before the pandemic began. It was a great feeling to see and hear live music again! Their set went by quick, but this was not the last we would see of them tonight…
Smith & Myers
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little emotional as Smith & Myers took the stage. In 2019, I saw 42 concerts, 3 of which were Shinedown. In 2020, I saw 1 concert. While the loss of live music may not have been the worst thing to come out of the pandemic, it was certainly a depressing blow. To see Brent Smith and Zach Myers perform again definitely gave me an uplifting feeling about where the world is headed.
You can tell that these guys have a lot of fun with performances like this. Even though this is still a physically big show, on a large stage in front of a large crowd, it has the feel of two best friends just having fun jamming and joking around. This was apparent from the end of their first song, “Coast to Coast,” when Zach, who was playing the piano, realized he had played the song in the wrong key. Brent replied with a sly, “I know.” They did not hesitate from playful ribbing each other all night, and telling silly stories in between some of the songs. Zach made sure to check in on the audience every three songs, “as mandated by the CDC.”
In regards to being back at the venue six months after playing a drive-in show, they commented on how it was nice that there were no Ford Focuses in the audience, no Geo Metros, no Hyundais, just an audience of people who they could see and hear.
Zach mentioned that when writing the setlist, he took a look at what they played here last time, in order to make it as different a show as possible. If you compare the two setlists, there’s around 6 staple songs that were played in both shows, but other than that, it’s almost entirely a different selection.
Naturally, the set consisted of Smith & Myers originals, cover songs, and Shinedown songs. They started off with an original, then a cover of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell.” After that, they played three Shinedown songs in a row. This type of mix continued throughout the night. A highlight of the night was “Monsters,” off of Shinedown’s 2018 album ATTENTION ATTENTION. Hearing them play an acoustic version of this was really cool!
Many of Shinedown’s songs suit an acoustic performance naturally. Songs like “How Did you Love,” “Get Up,” and “Second Chance” were likely easy selections for the set. Other songs, like “Cut the Cord,” and “Sound of Madness” are much heavier, and probably not the first thing you’d expect in a show like this. Though maybe not what you would have expected, they still worked, and made for unique versions of songs you already know and love.
Coast to Coast
If You Only Knew
How Did You Love
Not Mad Enough
One More Time
Shed Some Light
Cut the Cord
Sound of Madness
Never Tear Us Apart
Someone Like You
Bad at Love
New School Shiver
JR Moore and Zack Mack would sporadically throughout the night join Smith & Myers on stage, providing extra layers of accompaniment. Sometimes they were both playing acoustics, sometimes one would be on an electric guitar, sometimes they were on slide guitar. Add in their harmonies, and they definitely helped bring a more-full sound to the show.
In the second half of the show, Brent took a short break, and let Zach lead JR and Zack for a pair of cover songs, the first of which was the 90’s hit “Waterfalls,” by TLC. After that, they played Bob Seger’s “Night Moves.” Then Brent rejoined them, and they powered through the last batch of songs to finish the show, including a cover of “Someone Like You,” by Adele, and of course “Simple Man.”
I initially had to think about if I wanted to go to this show, as it was about a two hour drive for me, and it wasn’t going to be a full-fledged Shinedown arena rock show. I am very glad that I did! Smith & Myers put on a great performance, and the socially distanced pods made for a great family event. You didn’t have to look hard to see young kids losing their mind over songs like “If You Only Knew.” Everywhere you looked, people were happy to be seeing live music again!