Gig review: HALESTORM, HMV Forum, London, 9 April 2014

Halestorm - HMV Forum, London, 9 April 2014

The popularity of Halestorm in the UK is on a rapidly rising curve. Each headline show seems to be at a larger venue, and in 18 months they have progressed from the Islington Academy to the 2400 capacity Forum where the sold out signs were hung outside.

Their focal point both live and on record will always be long-legged and leather lunged singer Lzzy Hale. In a predominantly younger crowd, the girls want to be her and the boys….well you can guess the rest. However as a unit their stage craft has improved hugely over the years, reflecting their famously hard work touring.

Halestorm - HMV Forum, London, 9 April 2014

They also have the advantage of a classic set of memorable songs in their last ‘Strange Case of’ album, opening with ‘I Miss The Misery’ (which I narrowly made, rushing in from the Bayern vs Man United game just as they hit the stage) and ‘Love Bites (So Do I)’, while ‘Freak Like Me’ had the audience bouncing.

Older material such as ‘It’s Not You’ and ‘Innocence’ reflected the days when they were still finding their feet and nestled comfortably alongside ‘Don’t Know How To Stop’ which had stadium filling hooks.

However Lzzy is also a credible musician, playing piano during the haunting ballad ‘Breathe In’, which led into the epic ‘Familiar Taste of Poison’, and sharing lead guitar duties equally with Joe Hottinger.

Halestorm - HMV Forum, London, 9 April 2014

He, together with bassist Josh Smith, provides a steady if anonymous counterpoint to Lzzy and brother Arejay, whose extrovert antics, playing with baseball bat sized drumsticks and leading a chant along to well known songs, made bearable what would otherwise have been the low point of a drum solo.

Halestorm - HMV Forum, London, 9 April 2014

One of the features of the band is their love of covers with a series of EPs and this was on show at various points of the set. What was refreshing was that Dio’s ‘Straight Through the Heart’ and Judas Priest’s ‘Dissident Aggressor’ are among their less obvious works – as shown by a few puzzled faces – while a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Gold Dust Woman’ was a personal highlight, faithful to the original arrangement but imbued with an added rock menace.

Despite her feistiness – exemplified on ‘You Call Me A Bitch Like It’s A Bad Thing’ – Lzzy also has a down to earth feel to her and introducing ‘Daughters of Darkness’  -featuring raucous audience chanting to the ‘na na na’ section – she said she was very mindful of her role model status in a male dominated industry, met by a deafening chorus of female approval.

Halestorm - HMV Forum, London, 9 April 2014

The set reached boiling point with another autobiographical song, ‘Mz Hyde’, combining Black-era Metallica riffing with irresistible hooks both on verses and choruses, and, beginning with a ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ -style shuffle, first album favourite ‘I Get Off’.

There was a surprise in store for the encores in a set which has now grown over the psychologically important 90 minute mark, following a new song, ‘Mayhem’, which rocked at a cracking pace, with a cover of Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’, effectively giving it some rock credibility, before finishing with what has become something of a fans anthem, ‘Here’s To Us’.

There is no ‘Strange Case’ – on this evidence Halestorm are developing nicely as one of the few bands of the 2010′s with arena filling potential.

Review by Andy Nathan
Photos by Iain Scott

Halestorm - HMV Forum, London, 9 April 2014

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