Halestorm @ O2 Academy, Newcastle

26 September 2012

Now the last time I caught tonight’s head liner  we were in the cool north London arty haven of Camden town within the beautiful surrounds of the uber-sleek Roundhouse venue. 279 miles away in the distant north east lands of Tyneside, is where I find myself tonight surrounded with pint laden Geordie lads and gals equally baying for a rock and roll riot. They didn’t have to wait very long as a band I’d thought were long extinct, resurrected to provide the first action of the night in the O2 Academy. Not a bad sized venue but the floor standing space is all flat and goes back a long way, so really it’s a struggle to get a decent viewpoint if you don’t want your ears blasted into next Tuesday.

The Zico Chain

The Zico Chain, I remembered (back in 2006) as big alt riffing rockers who had a fair old way to go on improving their live set. The years have been kind and their latest LP has seemingly transformed them into another pretender to the LostProphets crown (initial sound issues aside). Plenty of oh oh’s, aahh’s and melodic guitar solo’s resonated well with the crowd without really doing much out of the ordinary. A well-received set of post-hardcore regardless.

Heaven’s Basement

When working away from home you have to take all you can get. Which means when Heaven’s Basement came to town, there was no way I was missing out. Tonight they we’re on their first tour since settling into life on a record label, with a debut single and video newly released, HB were riding a huge wave of momentum.

It also showed in their performance, especially from front man Aaron who has grown in stature from the meek man first seen many moons ago. Tonight his vocals were strong, his crowd pumping notched up, his energy boundless and his style looking more and more like a younger (and less tattooed) Justin Hawkins. He was clearly more at ease with their new material as well he should, with new anthemic single “Fire, Fire” complete with stunning Knockout Riff and border line metal adrenaline ride “I Am Electric”.

Aaron & Sid

The old favourites were as great as ever, yet the crowd were not as enthused as earlier in the night. Possibly the heavier Marshall guitars and less easy to sing harmonies were their falter here, but this does not distract from by far their most profession display I’ve witnessed with everyone from thundering drums, thumping bass, smokin’ lead guitars and soaring vocals pulling together for one fine performance.

 

Halestorm

Halestorm has well and truly packed out the venue with heads stretching back far out of sight, a mixed audience of ageing rockers and youthful ladies were here to ogle/idolise front woman Lzzy Hale in equal measure. She single-handedly drove all that’s good about Halestorm tonight, from her stunning power vocals displayed to best effect on the sultry ballad “Break In” (not to mention her adept piano abilities) to all out guitar attack on big rock numbers such as “Mz. Hyde” and her rock goddess strutting which is enough to get any red blooded male hot under the collar.

 

Lzzy Hale

The set was really well structured tonight, sampling the best of their LP’s with new material from “The Strange Case of…” being altogether heavier and amped up than its predecessor. Numbers such as the rip-roaring girl power anthem “Love Bites [So Do I]” outcast flag bearer “Freak Like Me” set the standard for their big numbers. Although, one trick pony’s they are not, as Halestorm have the luxury of being able to fall back on non-clichéd ballads because Lzzys beautiful voice, the set closer “Here’s to Us” showcasing a feel good rousing singalong tune without having to put the word love into every verse.

Although hard to believe Lzzy was upstaged tonight by the other Hale on stick duty, drummer and brother AreJay. His extended drum solo during the bands customary encore pause morphed through various phases, but upping the ante each time. From regular skin crashing; baton twirling style; stickless palm beating nothing trod on new ground. That was before he pulled out a huge set of oversized drumsticks 3 foot long and continued to make one hell of a racket much to the comic relief of the crowd.

Big Sticks!!

All round this was a superb all round performance, showcasing big rock anthems alongside pop ethics, with just a little hint of a rebellious streak. Corking!

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