Halestorm - O2 Academy Sheffield 12.03.2022
In 2010, I went to Leeds to catch Theory of a Deadman and was introduced to the music of Halestorm, who were the opening band and only had a 25-minute set. It left one helluva impression on me that made me an instant fan. The first Halestorm headline show I saw was in 2012 at The Cockpit in Leeds and again, it was a night to remember - where their sound was tighter and the band were on fire, laying down the foundations that would make them international stars.
The next time I caught Halestorm was in Manchester in 2016 on the Carnival of Madness tour with Black Stone Cherry and Shinedown. Anybody who was at the show knew that Halestorm was a force to be reckoned with. So here we are. Six years later - Halestorm are playing Sheffield, not for the first time but lot has transpired in the world since then, so the expectations are high. The stage is set for the first part of the show with a keyboard and stripped-down drum kit. At bang on 8pm, Lzzy walks onto the stage to a thunderous welcome from the packed crowd (it was sold out). For a lot the fans here, this was their first big show in almost 2 years since the pandemic started and shutdown the live music scene. Lzzy recognises this and is clearly very appreciative as she spoke to the crowd with accompanying filling notes on the keyboard. She then struck the first notes for 'Break In'. The crowd went wild! Lzzy is on form, and her vocals are angelic to the point that I looked around me at the fans and was glad to see that I wasn't the only one who had a tear in their eye by the end of the song.
The demographics are extremely mixed, as this was a show for everyone. I like bands who can strip back their sounds to the basics and allow their talent to shine. As the stripped-down set continued, we were given a deep cut not ever released entitled 'God Bless The Beast' which was then followed up by a rendering of the Billy Preston track 'You are so Beautiful', in a dedication to the Sheffield singer Joe Cocker. As guitarist Joe Hottinger comes onto the stage, there is comical moment as they realise that the stage wardrobe or them both was almost matching plaid shirts. When they start going through their back catalogue, it's nice to see that the set list has been changing at every show while some shows got electric versions, others got the acoustic versions. With the addition of bassist Josh King and drummer Arje Hale, the set continued with track 'Mr Hyde', 'Apocalyptic' and 'Heart of Nova Caine'.
With the Arje Hale bad joke segment - the crowd did boo but also enjoyed the moment. The final track for this segment was an unbelievable version of 'I Am Fire'. Which the crowd had to sing along with, which highlighted once again the versatility of the band as musicians.
With a 20-minute break to allow the stage to be reset for the electric portion of the show, I was able to speak to fans and get their views on what they had just experienced. The feedback was "awesome!" “How does Lzzy sound so good after being on tour for the last 2 weeks?" "I like Arje’s hair" - but my favourite was "Why aren't they headlining Download". If Halestorm was eliciting these kinds of comments I could only wonder what the next hour was going to be like.
So the stage darkened. The lights and sound hit with 'Rock Show' and the crowd went crazy! Lzzy Hale is in new stage attire with guitar in hand as she leads the band through a back catalogue of hits from all the previous 4 albums, also introducing new track from the soon to be released 5th album 'Back from The Dead'. I could list all the songs played but that would be a bit boring as in the end, they played a total of 23 track on the night. The crowd were fantastic as they sang along and danced until the set ended on a searing guitar onslaught with 'Uncomfortable'.
Finally, there was an encore which had three songs from the album 'Strange Case of…', 'Here’s to Us', 'Love Bites (So Do I)', & 'I Miss the Misery'. Lzzy Hale is a multi-talented musician and her guitar playing on this show was absolutely mind blowing at times. The exchange with Joe Hottinger was a sight to see, to the point that it had a "Freebird-esque" vibe. Watching the band from its early days, to what the Sheffield crowd saw tonight is the reason I am a fan. Halestorm showed that after 2 years of not touring - they are ready to Rock the world right to its core. They are an extremely hard-working band that deserves all the praise and recognition given. While a lot has been written about just how good a vocalist Lzzy Hale is - the truth is, …she couldn't have done it without Joe, Arje, & Josh who are great musicians in their own right and know how to allow for all the elements of a show to come together. Lzzy is a vocalist who can tear at your heartstrings in one moment and the next have you up and dancing singing.
Halestorm's performance tonight was a fantastic way to show the world and Sheffield, why they love their fans and why they spend so much time on the road. They just want play and give us a Rock show!!! And I agree that after that performance, a headline slot at Download is well earned and deserved!
Halestorm - https://www.facebook.com/halestormrocks
Review - Geno de Lora
Photos - Shot By Simmons