REVIEW: Smith & Myers Open The New Year Live at House of Blues in Orlando
Cover music aces Smith & Myers rocked their faithful fans into the New Year with a sensational performance before a jam-packed sold-out New Year’s Eve show at the House of Blues in Orlando, Florida.
Formed in 2014, Smith & Myers are Brent Smith and Zach Myers, two of the four hitmakers from alternative rock band Shinedown, who delivered a charged and impressive show on the tour’s final night with a New Year’s rock show that included an extended non-stop jam session of singalong cover tunes along with plenty of feel-good moments to the capacity crowd of 2,500 fans who chose to ring in the new year with the powerhouse duo.
Billed as an acoustic show, this was far more than a couple of hired guns simply sitting on stools and strumming guitars. It was a night of the duo’s very best that included a plethora of cover tunes they are known for playing along with some newer original material from last year’s inaugural double album release Smith & Myers Volume 1 and Volume 2; studio albums that include their first ten original songs and plenty of well-recognized cover songs on those albums.
Perhaps this concert could be considered a variety show of sorts as both Brent Smith and Zach Myers are more parody like Abbott & Costello in between songs. The two go back and forth cracking jokes, telling silly stories, and amusing the crowd, providing a bit of insight as to what life is like off stage between the two selfprofessed best friends.
There was an inspired set by show openers J.R. Moore and Zack Mack, whose unique sounds come via slide guitar, keyboards, and harmonica along with stellar vocals and guitars; together they combine rock and enough country to create a unique sound of their own that got the already festive crowd going when they got into “Heartache Tonight” by the Eagles. The two set the stage and primed the crowd for headliners Smith & Myers.
The extended set list by Smith & Myers included several covers of Shinedown’s most recognized songs, including “Second Chance” and “Sound of Madness,” along a genre-diverse selection of cover songs by REM, Billy Idol, Peter Gabriel, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and other notable artists whose songs Smith & Myers have covered when requested by fans. With charismatic frontman Brent Smith handling the vocals and guitar maven Zach Myers alternating between guitars and keyboards, they were joined sporadically on stage by support musicians and special guests J.R. Moore on bass and Zack Mack on guitar, adding a rich vibe to the already impressive melodic sounds that kept fans on their feet dancing and singing along in unison to nearly every word of the two-and-a-half-hour performance. Starting with a cover of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” Smith and Myers got the crowd engaged early and led them through a series of the duo’s very best. One of the finer moments of the night included fan-favorite Smith & Myers original songs “Not Mad Enough” and “Bad At Love,” both from 2020’s Volume 1 and Volume 2. “Not Mad Enough” was beautifully played and was initially inspired and written by Dave Bassett, Zach Myers, and Brent Smith as a song against injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s tragic death. Bassett is a Grammy Award-winning songwriter and record producer known for his previous work with Shinedown.
Half-way through the performance and nearing midnight, Brent Smith paused the show as the remaining minutes of 2021 came to a close; without much thought, both Smith and Myers agreed to slightly alter the set list before counting down to 2022 and welcoming the new year with a few thousand of the band’s closest friends showering them with a blast of confetti to rock in the new year. One of the more touching moments was when Zack Myers was joined on stage by his wife, Bethany Myers, and together they sang a special duet of Randy Travis’ 1987 song “Forever and Ever, Amen.”
Now into the New Year, Smith & Myers continued with The Righteous Brothers’ 1965 hit “Unchained Melody.” Now joined again by JR Moore and Zack Mack, they got into 1973 hit “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd and 1981 tune “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins.
One thing is clear: Smith & Myers have figured out how to create a fun yet musically entertaining show with a little humor peppered in. The show was engaging and kept fans entertained and wanting more. It is a show where fans can sing at the top of their voices without any regard to who is listening. It’s not surprising that fans of Smith & Myers wanted to join the duo in welcoming in a New Year.