It’s official: Columbus loves Halestorm. The band’s concert last night had originally been booked at the Newport Music Hall, but sold out so fast that it was quickly relocated to the larger LC Pavilion. The show then sold out once again, a fact brought up more than once by the genuinely grateful, humbled band. Too bad the concert didn’t take place during a warmer month; Halestorm could’ve easily performed outdoors at the LC… and probably still sell out that show too.
Naturally, the love affair is mutual. In the past nineteen months, the young lions of hard rock have performed in Columbus no less than four times, including two high profile gigs at Rock On The Range (read my review of their set at this year’s ROTR here). The last time they performed indoors here, it was again at the LC Pavilion, but they opened for Evanescence. Clearly, based on the packed house last night, the band has a huge (and growing) fanbase here, and it’s not just kids. One of the coolest things to see at a veteran band’s concert is a large number of young people – it means that the band has a fanbase that spans multiple generations. This same phenomenon was observed last night, but in reverse: not only were there legions of high school and college-aged kids there, but people as old as their parents – and many in attendance probably were their parents – were rocking out as well.
The energy at the LC was electric from the start. Opening with their massive hit “Love Bites (So Do I),” the band whipped the audience into a frenzy that ebbed and flowed but never vanished for the next 90 minutes. Crowd surfing is not commonplace outside of metal shows, but it was going on for a good chunk of Halestorm’s set. Nine songs from the band’s most recent LP, 'The Strange Case Of…' (read my review of the album here) were performed, and sounded even better live than on the album. Halestorm has been on the road so long that they are performing with the precision of a handcrafted Italian sports car. Their stage was rather spartan – a large “O” from the band’s logo that changed color every few songs was the fanciest accoutrement – but the unbridled enthusiasm and musicianship Halestorm brought with them was way more than enough to sustain the audience.
Arejay Hale’s drum solo alone was worth the price of admission. As far as rock drum kits go, Hale’s looks rather minimal, but he played as if he was sitting behind Neil Peart’s kit. He did all sorts of percussionary pyrotechnics: playing the bass drum with drumsticks instead of his feet, attacking the drums with his hands and literally jumping from a sitting position to standing atop his stool. At one point, he made his drum kit look even smaller by banging on it with sticks that were easily a yard long.
The rest of the band aren’t slouches either. Immediately after the drum solo, Lzzy, guitarist Joe Hottinger and bassist Josh Smith re-emerged on stage and dropped a pummeling cover of Judas Priest’s “Dissident Aggressor” on the audience. The music Halestorm specializes in is for the part radio-friendly heavy rock, but this song was pure metal magic. The guitars sounded crunchier and Lzzy’s banshee screams were worthy of metal god Rob Halford himself. Lzzy may still be in her 20s, but she has quickly become one of the greatest frontwomen in rock history. Not only does she possess a ferocious set of vocal cords, she’s a damn good guitarist and keyboardist to boot. Her runway model meets biker chick look doesn’t hurt either, but the bottom line is that she has all the right tools, from musicianship to charisma to personality, to ultimately become not just one of the elite frontwomen of all time, but one of the best band leaders, period.
Two more covers from the band’s brand new EP, 'ReAniMate 2.0' (read my review here), were performed: Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” which most in attendance seemed to be very familiar with, along with Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman.” As she did with Halford’s unique vocals, Lzzy did Stevie Nicks’ siren-like voice justice. She also introduced the latter song by saying that many people might not recognize it, but their parents might, and if they do, then they’re very cool parents. The final song of the night was the brand new drinking classic “Here’s to Us,” and Lzzy gets an additional one billion cool points for giving a shout out to the late Dimebag Darrell, who was murdered on stage nine years to the day just a few miles away.
After the show, the band was all smiles as they tossed out souvenirs to the audience. The sold out crowd was in a pretty good mood too, having got many times their money’s worth and eagerly awaiting the next time Halestorm hits Columbus which, if they follow their pattern, should only be about four and a half months from now.
1. Love Bites (So Do I)
2. Mz. Hyde
3. It's Not You
4. Nothing to Do with Love
5. Freak Like Me
6. You Call Me a Bitch Like It's a Bad Thing
8. Don't Know How to Stop
9. Daughters of Darkness
10. Rock Show
11. Gold Dust Woman (Fleetwood Mac cover)
12. Break In
13. Familiar Taste of Poison
14. Dissident Aggressor (Judas Priest cover)
15. I Get Off
16. Get Lucky (Daft Punk cover)
17. I Miss the Misery
18. Here's to Us