A sold out rock show in the Fair City on a weekday usually means something memorable’s on the cards. And this was no exception. In support of their latest release, ‘Vicious’, Grammy Award winners Halestorm returned to Dublin, and their Irish fans, in the intimate setting of The Academy. Seizing the opportunity to get up close and personal, Halestorm brought their A-Game on a blustery Irish night, and sent windswept fans venturing home with enough adrenaline to take on Storm Ali itself.
Getting off to a technically unfortunate start, support band, the Dublin based Scathed, adapted, overcame, and prevailed. And ultimately found themselves enjoying a victorious finish. Exuding a standard blend of Hard Rock and Metal, the true gem in Scathed lies in vocalist, Ainsley Kavanagh. As the singer commanded the stage, in a fashion somewhere between Blondie’s Debbie Harry and Pantera‘s Phil Alselmo, Kavanagh and co won over the packed venue with their aggressive charm, leaving the audience excited about the release of their upcoming EP.
With a special set for a special evening, Halestorm kicked it all off with the irresistible “Vicious”. Vocalist Lzzy Hale, dressed in black and brimming with energy, crept across the stage during the song’s seductive verses, before levelling the monitors with it’s monstrous chorus. In fact, all numbers from the new album went down a treat. The spitball harmonies of “Skulls,” alongside the anthemic moments in “Black Vultures” and “Do Not Disturb,” not forgetting the stripped back “Silence” which saw Hale bare her soul to the audience, left little wonder as to why the record has brought the band to new and deserving highs. A point reiterated in the live rendition of leading single, “Uncomfortable”.
Drummer and “little brother” to Lzzy, Arejay Hale brought the party to the show. Outfitted in colourful, big kid like clothing, the stick man was seldom on the drum stool. Whether playing standing up, throwing sticks in the air, or spitting one out of his mouth and catching it mid-beat, Arejay was a pleasure to watch perform. And a talented joker too. At one hilarious point during his solo, he pulled off an impressive stunt using a giant, novelty sized pair of sticks, much to the delight of the audience.
During Halestorm favourites such as “It’s Not You,” “Amen,” “I Miss The Misery” and “Freak Like Me,” to name but a few, fans summoned an energy not often found on a rainy Thursday and gave as good as they got. And what they got was euphorically good. Outside of a handful of long-winded, even slightly awkward silent changeovers between songs, Halestorm gave their whole selves over to their Irish audience. None more so than the incomparable Lzzy Hale herself. Between sharing sentimental stories and trading solos with guitarist Joe Storm, Hale’s vocals were simply stunning. Hale has that rare ability to take her voice to, what seems like, the edge of exploding. But her delivery always knows precisely when to hold back, leaving us with a raw, passionate and memorable performance.
Bidding one final farewell with their unconventional, celebratory ballad, “Here’s To Us,” Halestorm left the stage having played a set well worth the wait. It was obvious that since their last visit to Irish shores, these ascending rockers have come on in leaps and bounds. They are rarely off the road, and it shows in their performance. Tight, passionate, with a hunger to take it as far as it will go, make no mistake – Halestorm have what it takes to go very far indeed.