Gig Review + Photos by Dave Musson

Halestorm

This tour feels like an important one for Halestorm; the hard rocking fourpiece have shown they can win over an arena crowd with a short, sharp set, but what about the prospect of them making it back to the big venues on their own? This headline run of decent sized venues could go some way to determining their next step.

WIlson

Opening things up, a band making its UK debut – Detroit rockers Wilson, whose phenomenal album Full Blast Fuckery has already earned them a cult following on these shores. And from the moment vocalist Chad Nicefield appears on stage in a military jacket and banging a huge drum with FUCKERY written on the front, there was no chance of them disappointing. With big beards, bigger riffs and frankly huge choruses, they instantly warm up the room and set the party dial to ‘swinging’. Cuts such as If You Ever Leave Me I Will Find You and College Gangbang from their aforementioned album go down a treat and are sung back with gusto, while they also rip through a brilliant cover of AC/DC’s Back in Black, that has Nicefield leading the crowd singalong from the barrier and even draws applause from the Civic’s security guards at the end. Wilson then rattle through a couple more original numbers, which are enhanced with a percussion kit made of beer bottles and another appearance for the Fuckery drum. Their set is nothing short of triumph and with a new album imminent, let’s hope Wilson come back to the UK very soon.

Nothing More

After such an onslaught, you could forgive Nothing More for being a bit of a comedown. Not even remotely so. The Texan foursome kept the party in full throttle with their own brand of craziness – half of the band doesn’t even have any shoes on for goodness’ sake! Other than saying ‘awesome’ over and over, their sound is somewhat hard to pinpoint. At various points Nothing More have elements of At the Drive In, Boy Hits Car and even shades of Fall Out Boy, all set against a barrage of staccato riffing and amazing wailing vocals. They are also clearly incredible musicians, as emphasised by a mesmerising section midset where their bass guitar is suspended on a rotating arm, and every bar their drummer attacks in using fingers, plectrums and drum sticks to create the most unique bass solo you’re likely to hear. Frontman Jonny Hawkins is superb, prowling from left to right wearing just his jeans like Iggy Pop in his pomp, an energy he backs up with an incredible. In many ways, they couldn’t be further from the party anthems of Wilson, but that doesn’t stop them getting just as raucous a response from the crowd. Their final number sees more musical showmanship, this time with every band member getting creative with some drums before they take a euphoric leave, with a promise to return ringing in the speakers. Stunning stuff.

Halestorm

Finally, Halestorm – could they keep the party going and justify their position as big room headliners? Well yes, of course they can. They take to the stage with very little fuss or fanfare and this cool, understated confidence sets the tone for the duration of their rocking set, which they kick off with Apocalyptic and Mz Hyde. The stage set up is minimal to say the least – amps at the back, mics at front and lots of bright light – but it helps focus attention on just what a crisp and slick rock act Halestorm have matured into. With this lot, it’s all about the music, and where there songs are as good as Freak Like Me, Rock Show and Daughters of Darkness you can understand why.

Halestorm

While every member of Halestorm holds their own in the live environment – or, in the case of stick twirling and throwing drummer Arejay Hale, revel in it – it’s hard not to write about this band without mention of frontwoman Lzzy Hale, who literally and symbolically is one of the loudest female voices in modern rock. With superb, throaty vocals and a jealousy-inducing collection of cool guitars for her to show off her riffing skills on, she admirably leads her bandmates through a jam-packed 75 minute set and underlines what a great performer she is, especially on songs like Love Bites (So Do I) and I Miss The misery.

Halestorm

Halestorm

There is little to fault in Halestorm’s performance; they have the room rocking from start to finish, they clearly have a great rapport with their fans and each band member plays with a huge smile on their face. By the time they take their exit,  no-one in the room is left in any doubt as to just what a fine live band Halestorm is. Also, if new songs I Am the Fire and Amen are anything to go by, their next visit will have another sackful of bangers for them to choose from.

Halestorm

And so to try and answer our initial question and judge the potential of Halestorm as arena-fillers on their own right. Their fanbase is certainly moving in the right direction – a packed Civic Hall singing back every chorus with gusto is testament to this – and the band’s live performances get tighter and more confident each time they come over to these shores. Perhaps they’ve not quite produced the killer album that will take them into the big leagues just yet, but if tonight’s showing is anything to go by Halestorm might not be too far off.  This gig was a celebration of how they’ve far they’ve and, perhaps, a glimpse of what is yet to come.

Halestorm

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