Review + Photography by Frank Ralph

Of all the shows I’ve been to this year, this was one of the most enjoyable, and probably the most important.

With three bands on the bill that all showcased powerful women in rock it was an indicator of how much a part of the scene they have and are becoming – and it was an absolute joy to witness.

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Openers New Years Day deserve an apology of sorts from me.

I’ve seen the name numerous times and wrote them off as a dodgy pop punk band never giving them a chance. It’s my loss, they were much heavier than I’d thought they would be and Ash Costello’s voice is incredible. They even throw in a version of Pantera’s F*@kin Hostile early in the set in tribute to Dimebag, apparently it had been said by the band that it couldn’t be sung by a woman, but they were wrong.

The call back response of the crowd during Epidemic sounded great and the Motorpoint Arena looked absolutely glorious with everyone’s phones lit up. I will definitely be checking them out more in the future, don’t make my mistake and give them a listen.

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Next up was LA’s In This Moment who brought us their twisted Pan’s Labyrinthesque visual extravaganza. Their set was an absolute feast for the eyes with multiple costume changes and dark characters appearing throughout.

Maria Brink’s vocals were amazing and the characters she became throughout the set seemed to all have different personalities from the high priestess, the primal wolf woman and the evangelistic Whore.

They were definitely the most visually interesting band of the night and the music more than matched the theatrics.

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I’ve been lucky enough to see tonight’s’ headliners Halestorm on every single tour they’ve done in the UK, from the early support slot on the Taste The Chaos tour a decade ago, moving up the bill at festivals and packing out the smaller and mid size venues across the UK over the last 10 years.

They’ve earned every accolade they’ve ever got through good old-fashioned hard work on the road – like bands used to do – building a solid and loyal fan base along the way and they fully deserve to be classed as an arena-headlining band.

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Especially when you hear the quality of material they have in their armoury – kicking off with 6 absolute bangers in Freak Like Me, Love Bites, Apocalyptic Vicious, I Get Off and a strung out extended version of Amen.

Those track scattered through any set list would make for a great show but opening with them shows that the band mean business and are here to make a statement. Joe’s guitar sounds epic and Arejay’s drums powerful as Lzzy’s voice soared into the rafters of the Motorpoint Arena.

The drum and bass solo section harks back to classic bands of a bygone era, which Halestorm do have in their DNA, it’s enjoyable and the giant drumsticks Arejay pulls out are fun but it does offer some of the crowd the opportunity to visit the bar.

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As Lzzy returns they launch into a vicious Black Vultures and Uncomfortable, which was preceded with a call to arms to all the freaks to be who you want to be and don’t apologise.

Shows like this are the kind that inspire people. If you hadn’t already, you can add Hale to the list of names that includes the Benatars, the Jett’s and the Nick’s of the world that have and will influence women to pick up guitars and show the world what they can do. Here’s to more women in rock.

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See the full photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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