Enmore Theatre, Sydney NSW
December 6th, 2019
Lzzy Hale‘s heart-stopping vocals. An epic drum solo (featuring huge sticks). A sweaty rock ‘n’ roll show. These are all things Halestorm veterans have come to expect from their shows, and it was certainly no different this time around.
However, most didn’t know what to expect with New Zealand alt-rock group Villainy, although there were a handful of passionate fans in the crowd. While there’s a strong sense of slick production with their studio recordings, live that gives way to a show that’s much rougher around the edges – and that’s not a bad thing. The four-piece’s short set featured cuts from latest record Raised In The Dark (2019), and they injected solid energy into the crowd from the get-go.
Frontman Neill Fraser transitioned well between husky, sultry lows to belting and screaming into the mic. The vocalist also mentioned that it’d been three years since the band last toured in Australia, being met with loud cheers. Foot-stomper ‘Dreams’ was a highlight, with guitarist Thom Watts taking the reins with some killer shredding halfway through. He also looked like he was truly enjoying every second up onstage, which was a joy to watch.
Overall, the show was a diamond in the rough, and by the end of it the venue was well-packed with punters.
As soon as the lights went down and Halestorm took the stage, they had us eating out of the palm of their hand.
The well-oiled band opened the set with the slower yet hard-hitting ‘Do Not Disturb’ from latest record Vicious (2018). From there, the group kept raising the bar with cuts from their first two albums, from the frenetic set staple ‘Love Bites (So Do I)’ to ‘I Get Off’, a more measured yet sultry track. Lead guitarist Joe Hottinger usually brings his A-game, however it was incredible to see him truly shine. Radiating confidence (while nodding appreciatively to familiar faces in the crowd), he stole the show wherever there was a guitar solo, be it during ‘Amen’, ‘I Am The Fire’ or set-closer ‘I Miss The Misery’.
Now it wouldn’t be a Halestorm gig without an Arejay Hale drum solo. Yet what was refreshing was seeing bassist Josh Smith soak up the limelight too.
The two bounced off each other as Smith cranked up a crunchy bass tone, with Arejay pointing emphatically towards his bandmate at the end. In another staple moment, the drummer brought out his huge pair of sticks, proceeding to go absolutely loose on the kit with them. What a performer. Lzzy dedicated the fast-paced banger ‘Uncomfortable’ to all the women in the crowd, before the band ripped into songs like ‘Black Vultures’ and ‘Apocalyptic’, showing a group completely in sync.
Throughout the night as she commanded the stage, Lzzy’s vocals were on-point, and there were plenty of moments that showcased the versatility and sheer power of her range. A particularly emotional part came when the rest of the band walked offstage, and it was just Lzzy and her keyboard. The singer’s voice soared as she performed a slow and soulful medley of ‘Rock Show’, ‘White Dress’, ‘Dear Daughter’ and (unexpectedly) Adele‘s ‘Someone Like You’.
The vocalist also took pause during the show to salute both the die-hard fans and the newcomers, stating matter-of-factly, “This is the best rock ‘n’ roll family”. She was also right on the money when she said, “There’s a difference between being a rock ‘n’ roll fan, and being everybody else.”
‘Here’s To Us’ was another emotional high point. In a ritual Halestorm move, all the band members grabbed their drinks and held them up, a dedication to both the fans and how far we’ve all come together. Then in epic fashion, the four-piece left nothing behind with ‘I Miss The Misery’, impressing with an extended outro that proved the perfect end to a stellar night.
What a time to be a rock ‘n’ roll fan when you’re in a Halestorm pit.
Review by Genevieve Gao.
Revisit our interview with Halestorm frontwoman Lzzy Hale right here
Halestorm – 2019 Australian Tour
with Black Stone Cherry
Tuesday 10 December @ The Forum, Melbourne