Shinedown / Halestorm @ O2 Academy Glasgow 16th February 2012

Liberty Lies, Halestorm and Shinedown all on one ticket is a very strong lineup, and I had been looking forward to it for a very long time.

It is shame then that I managed to miss Liberty Lies completely. In truth due to unbelievable car parking conditions I nearly missed Halestorm! Thankfully though, I got in with just a few minutes to spare before Lzzy and the band stormed on stage and blasted through current single ‘Love Bites (And So Do I)‘.

Now this is the third time I’ve seen Halestorm and they are a powerhouse live; the complete package. Lzzy’s voice is stunning. There are no other words, and to be fair it would be easy for the band to rest on their laurels and be propped up by that talent, but they do not. From brother Arejay’s drumming to John and Joe on ‘axes’ there is skill throughout with songs to match.

Venue Acoustics

It is a shame then that Glasgow’s O2 Academy once again proved a foil to proceedings by successfully managing to drown out Lzzy’s vocal for virtually all of the first track and allow it to be only marginally better for the rest of their 45 minute set. Such a shame.

Halestorm are stunning live, and every time previous the vocal prowess just blows you away. And whilst you could see that they were performing almost flawlessly the overly heavy bass and overall muddy sound meant that those in the audience who didn’t know them and hadn’t seen them before would have been stepping away from the show thinking “meh”. The acoustics in this venue is a common complaint of mine, but can be brilliant at times. Is this the engineer working on the sounddesk (usually the bands own!), or is it the fact that we are standing at floor level whilst the sounddesk is up a level and it MUST sound different up there? Hell it has to sound different or somebody isn’t doing their job right!!

Sadly so many acts now trek the ‘O2 Academy’ trail through the UK meaning that Glasgow gig-goers are forced to visit the Academy rather than the superior (and legendary) Glasgow Barrowlands. For Halestorm tonight, whilst their show was superb and their talent abundant, they’d do well to return soon and NOT play the same venue.

Headline Differences

It is ironic then that when Shinedown stormed on the stage 30 minutes later that for the first the songs they sounded amazing. Surely it wasn’t the sound engineer being cruel to Halestorm and making sure they don’t upstage Shinedown?

I can’t say for sure, and I sincerely hope not. However it has to be said that after the first 30 minutes or so the same bass heavy sound mix problems which ruined Halestorm’s set seemed to creep into the headline set. OK I am not a sound engineer and don’t pretend to know the dynamics at play here, but how can that happen? I didn’t move from my spot all night, so I can’t even blame the acoustics changing as a result of me standing in a different area. Especially when for the encores the sound seemed to right itself again!?

Exemplary Performances

So. complaints about sound problems aside what were the performances like?

Well Halestorm are definitely on the rise. And damned deservedly so. Playing a nine song set (plus a drum solo) which included a Skid Row cover and an a capella Heart cover which absolutely showcased the vocal talent without fighting against a poor mix.

Lzzy Hale is a force to be reckoned with as she runs around the stage playing guitar, toying with the audience and frankly being a great frontwoman; oh, and did I mention that voice? Plus, their songs are superb and the sneak peek of new material from forthcoming album The Strange Case of… confirm that they will continue their rise.

I had not seen Shinedown before and when they blasted on stage they really did impress. I loved everything about them. Opening with ‘Sounds of Madness’ and soon after playing ‘Devour’ from most recent album Sounds of Madness proved a real crowd pleaser.

Vocalist Brent Smith impressed me from the beginning, and his need to be so (overly?) talkative between songs was a refreshing change from many gigs where other than an obligatory ‘Hullo’ personality and interaction with the crowd is unimportant. Some funny stories, some heartfelt stories and generally just decent crowd involvement endeared me further.

The musicianship was phenomenal, and the harmony vocal sections so very impressive indeed. Shinedown are stunning live. Sure they suffered some sound problems in the middle of the set which wasn’t their fault but the performance itself was stellar throughout.

Like Halestorm, Shinedown have a new album which isn’t yet out meaning there was then the inevitable airing of new material. Judging by tonight’s performances, the new material is going to send Shinedown on a new higher plane. Perhaps finally getting the recognition they deserve.

There were many stand out tracks from tonight but ‘Devour’, ‘The Crow & The Butterfly’,  an acoustic Lynyrd Skynyrd cover of ‘Simple Man’ and of course the brilliant ‘Second Chance’ are particularly worthy of mention.

I am very much looking forward to seeing them again at this year’s Download Festival on the back of their new album Amaryllis.

Shinedown Setlist O2 Academy Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, Amaryllis Europe Tour 2012
Gareth Fraser
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