The rise and rise of Halestrom continues. Less than three years ago my first exposure to them was as the opening act on a three band bill with Theory Of A Deadman at this very venue, but the Pennsylvania rockers have since built such a following that after selling out the Islington Academy last autumn, they swiftly returned to headline the 1600 capacity Ballroom. Not only that but their second album, The Strange Case Of, marked a quantum leap forward, its mixture of feisty aggression and choruses to die for making it one of my favourite albums of the past five years.
Musically and visually, Halestorm will always be about long-legged siren Lzzy Hale, but, with hair tied up and in a black dress, there were no airs and graces about her, just getting down to business as they opened with a trio of the heavier songs from ‘Strange Case’ in Freak Like Me, Love Bites and You Call Me A Bitch Like It’s A Bad Thing – where the reference to ‘see you next Tuesday’ always makes me chuckle.
One of the lesser featured tracks from their debut, Innocence was a fine, melodic ballad while there were also a couple of well chosen cover versions and not the obvious songs- indeed their cover of Dio’s Straight Through the Heart seemed to pass over the heads of much of the predominantly young audience.
Despite the feisty nature of her lyrics, Lzzy has a sunny disposition on stage in contrast to fellow feminists like Alanis Morrisette or Avril Lavigne, regularly thanking their fans and leaving me wondering whether the snarling man-hating may be something of a marketing construction.
Moreover, as she stood alone at a keyboard, singing the haunting Breathe In, she came over as more of a Tori Amos or Kate Bush. Their stage act has been toned down from their rather gauche earlier days and the rest of the band can come over as being a bit faceless, but Lzzy’s brother and drummer Arejay, looking like a reject from Green Day in his dyed hair and school tie, produced his usual entertaining drum solo including swapping his drumsticks for what looked like a giant baseball bat.
Daughters of Darkness and Ms Hyde had big swathes of the crowd pogoing and shouting the huge choruses, before they ended with a cover of G n R’s Out Ta Get Me and two favourites from the debut, It’s Not You, another perfect blend of melody and heavy riffing, and I Get Off sent the crowd going crazy.
The encores ended a hour and 20 minute song on a high, with I Miss the Misery, which might just be my favourite of all the killer songs on the last album, and Here’s To Us a song made for singalongs.
With a magnetic singer, an increasingly polished act and a sound with big choruses that are made for filling stadia, there is no strange case about the inevitability that Halestorm, already big in the States, will continue their rise and be playing venues larger than this.
Review and photos by Andy Nathan
In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)
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Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)
Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)
LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)
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