SISTER AND BROTHER STEAL THE SHOW
What an absolutely phenomenal voice — that was the general consensus between myself, Last Bullet frontman Bryan Fontez (whom spotted me as I was leaving the venue) and ‘rival’ website writer Rich “The Meister” Dillon after having heard lead vocalist Lzzy Hale sing/scream all night long at Halestorm‘s show at The Opera House. Frankly, I thought that Lzzy Hale‘s voice was so good live that she sounded even better than she does on Halestorm‘s various CDs.
I arrived at the venue at around 9:15 pm and found it already completely packed. There were even people on the balcony section of the Opera House — I had never seen anyone in that section for any show in the past. The second opening band, Redlight King — a band hailing from nearby Hamilton, or “The Hammer” as the band’s lead singer nicknamed it — had about three to four songs left before Halestorm would take the stage. I ran into my new found friend “The Meister” pretty much where he had previously indicated that he would be and near one of the stairwells leading to the general admission area. Redlight King actually put on a good performance from I saw and I really liked the last song that they played — “Bullet In My Hand”. Once their set ended, “The Meister” and I made our way into the general admission area closer to the stage.
Right from the moment Halestorm hit the stage — and no offence to the rest of the band members — I just knew that front woman Lzzy Hale was clearly going to be the star of the show and is the one irreplaceable piece of the Halestorm juggernaut. On this night, her younger brother and drummer Arejay Hale did make a strong case for being a key cog as well in the machine, but really without Lzzy Hale there would most likely be no Halestorm.
Sporting a huge smile — which never really went away for the entire evening — and an all-black outfit consisting of above knee high studded boots, tight pants, a tank top and sleeveless jacket, Lzzy Hale looked stunning and sexy yet elegant all at the same time. She was good at talking and engaging the crowd whenever she spoke which included talking about her cool parents who raised her, and presumably her younger brother, on Black Sabbath and Van Halen. It was also fun and heartwarming to see her playfully poke fun at — yet also praise — her younger sibling Arejay. At one point the drummer had ventured to the front of the stage and Lzzy reminded him that the band could not start the next song until he got back behind his drum kit. In addition, she told the crowd how her brother’s head (i.e. brain) was all over the place but his heart was definitely with the audience.
Although both guitarist Joe Hottinger and bassist Josh Smith are no doubt integral members of the band, they did not have as much stage presence as the two Hale siblings. Drummer Arejay Hale was certainly having a lot of fun up on stage — I have never seen a drummer drop more drumsticks at a show than he did while performing various tricks, but that did not matter, as he had an endless supply of drumsticks near him. During certain songs, Arejay seemed more preoccupied with throwing and catching drumsticks with, presumably, a crew member at the side of the stage. Perhaps that is what Lzzy meant when she said that her younger brother’s head was “all over the place”. While I have never been a fan of drum solos, Arejay proved to be quite the engaging entertainer as he got the crowd to sing along after him during his solo and he ended up playing his drums with his bare hands but also later with the biggest oversized drumsticks that I have ever seen. The man is a true entertainer and reminded me of Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee in terms of offering both charisma and entertainment at a show from the drummer’s standpoint.
When you have an absolutely killer CD from which to choose songs from such as is the case with Halestorm‘s ‘The Strange Case Of…’ (You can see my Sleaze Roxx review at www.sleazeroxx.com/bands/halestorm/strangecaseof.shtml) it makes sense to mostly play songs from that new release. To my delight, Halestorm played eight out of 12 songs from the regular version of ‘The Strange Case Of…’ plus one out of three songs from the release’s deluxe version.
Halestorm kicked off their show with “Love Bites (So Do I)” and “Mz. Hyde” — which got the crowd engaged right away. Frankly, I liked all of the songs that they played on this night. The only one that I wish they would have played was the ballad “Break In”, which has apparently been played during some of the band’s other shows on this tour. Songs that did surprise me with how good they were included “Freak Like Me” (check out the video that I found on YouTube below), “Daughters Of Darkness” — with its “na na na na na” portions and which was dedicated to all the ladies in the house — and, extra deluxe bonus track “Don’t Know How To Stop”.
Even though I think that Halestorm did a great job on the songs that they ended up covering on their ‘Reanimate 2.0: The Covers EP’ (you can see my review of it at www.sleazeroxx.com/bands/halestorm/reanimate2.shtml) I found that the band’s live versions of the three songs that they ended up playing from that release were not quite as strong as what can be heard on the CD. Funny enough, Fontez and “The Meister” questioned me after the show when I spoke about the Judas Priest cover that Halestorm had played — apparently I was the only one that heard it out of the three of us — and I stand by my assertion that they did indeed cover “Dissident Aggressor” at the show. I was actually surprised that Lzzy Hale did not don her guitar for the Judas Priest classic given that the ‘Metal Gods’ have two guitars playing for that song and I think that Halestorm‘s live version could have used some extra guitar beefing up.
Halestorm ended up closing their show with “I Get Off”, from their self-titled CD, before coming back for three stellar encores — a cover of Daft Punk‘s “Get Lucky”, “I Miss The Misery” with its cool “oh oh oh” portions, and my favorite, “Here’s To Us”, which brought goose bumps to my arms as soon as I heard the opening chords. It was a fantastic ending to a great evening of rock and roll — here’s to you Halestorm for putting on one great show! Please come back to Toronto soon.
On a side note, and a bit of a surreal moment for me, while driving home after the show and about halfway there, I checked for my camera in my designated leather jacket pocket only to find that it wasn’t there. Having previously lost one camera, which I believe I left on (and fell from) the roof of my car about two years ago, I was already starting to dread having to report another loss (filled with family photos) to my wife. I then quickly pulled over to the side of the road and frantically started feeling each of my jacket and pant pockets to no avail. I then started inserting one of my hands in each pocket in the hope of somehow locating my camera. When I got to the last possible pocket where the camera could be, a big sigh of relief overcame me as I felt the texture of my camera — disaster averted!
01. Love Bites (So Do I)
02. Mz. Hyde
03. It’s Not You
04. Freak Like Me
05. You Call Me A Bitch Like It’s A Bad Thing
07. Don’t Know How To Stop
08. Daughters Of Darkness
09. Rock Show
10. Gold Dust Woman (Fleetwood Mac cover)
11. Familiar Taste Of Poison
12. Drum Solo
13. Dissident Aggressor (Judas Priest cover)
14. Nothing To Do With Love
15. I Get Off
16. Get Lucky (Daft Punk cover)
17. I Miss The Misery
18. Here’s To Us