Halestorm – O2 ABC, Glasgow – 05/04/14

halestorm-groupAs far as female-lead rock bands go, Halestorm are up there. You’ll be hard-up finding more anthemic, catchy riffs mixed with raucous vocals anywhere else and it was no surprise that they came and conquered Glasgow on Saturday night. Amidst the catchy cover versions, which Halestorm seem to pride themselves on, the original material shone through and was given a great platform from the stage in the ABC. A packed crowd who were clearly up for it and in full voice for the majority of the show added to the overall feel of the place on the night.

Maybe it’s just me but I reckon Saturday night shows are always that little bit better as you’re a bit more relaxed and not worrying about work in the morning. If you couple that with a band at the top of their game you’re definitely in for a treat. Arriving just before the support had finished their set we had time to nip into the bar downstairs before making our way into the impressive main hall for the short wait on a band I’d first saw in support of Alter Bridge at the Hydro in October. Even then, on such a big stage, you could see the captivating qualities of the band shine through in the performance and banter between songs. It was no different on Saturday when they brought their headline show to Glasgow.

I could easily go on and on about Lzzy Hale’s voice and how she could belt out every note with venom all night but I’d probably just be saying what everyone has already said a million times before me so I will stop there and focus on how the dynamics of the band worked for me on Saturday evening. The last time I saw Joe Hottinger his guitar playing was somewhat overshadowed by Lzzy, which for a lead guitarist isn’t the best thing, but on Saturday he was shredding and firing out the majority of the lead guitar parts while looking like a man very comfortable in his role. A complete turnaround from last time.

I realised tonight that Arejay is Arejay and it’s not worth getting annoyed about. If you don’t know what I mean, I’ll explain. As I mentioned before, the first time I’d seen Halestorm was back when they were opening support for Alter Bridge and during that set Arejay had his kit moved to the front of the stage where he completed a 5 minute drum solo. I felt this was a little bit cringey and over-indulgent from a drummer on the foot of the bill. Turns out that he’s just a cracking drummer who likes to showboat a bit, let’s take playing part of his drum solo on Saturday night with no sticks at all or the giant drumsticks he produced to finish it off for example. At the end of the day it’s all just a bit of harmless fun which I think I may have appreciated a little more with a couple of beers in me. So I guess I must apologise to Arejay and get over it then tip my cap for providing a great wee mid-set skit. Sorry Arejay, drum on!

Bassists usually do have a bit of an uphill struggle to be seen and heard at the best of times and when you’re in a band with such big characters, that’s a pretty big hill. You’d be forgiven for thinking Josh Smith would be nothing but a small dot on the side of the stage but this would be far from the truth. His bass lines are as prominent on stage as they are on print and the guy is partial to a little flamboyant outburst, but then the other side of the coin is that he doesn’t have to ham it up like the others, which allows him to concentrate on producing the rhythmic background to the overall performance. Something Josh was able to provide on Saturday night.

Halestorm are partial to a wee cover now and again, just see the two ReAniMate albums they’ve released so far, and they belted out a few for our pleasure throughout the set. Judas Priest’s ‘Dissident Aggressor’ and Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Gold Dust Woman’ were good but the most memorable were two songs from either end of the musical spectrum, Dio’s ‘Straight Through the Heart’ and Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky‘ which I have to say sounds absolutely brilliant live with crunchy-muted guitar and familiar but different vocals. Some may say so many covers is a bit of a cop-out but I disagree, Everyone there was out to have fun and I thought it just added to the party feeling the gig had to it.

Covers aside what else did the set have in store for us? Plenty! Crowd-favourites like ‘I Miss the Misery’, ‘Love Bites (So Do I)‘ and ‘Freak Like Me’ featured early on and were enough to lift an already vocal crowd to rapturous applause. A haunting and sombre solo rendition of ‘Break In’ was a nice interlude to more familiar tracks like ‘Mz Hyde’ and the always-entertaining and ‘Here’s To Us’ which closed the set and was belted out by everyone in the place before we all went home deafened by a cracking band which continues to buff its reputation. Well played Halestorm and here’s to you too!

Halestorm Setlist O2 ABC, Glasgow, Scotland 2014

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