LIVE: Halestorm – Islington Academy, London 28/09/2012
Plus support from Heaven’s Basement and Zico Chain.Being a big fan of Halestorm, I was really interested to see how they were going to fare on their first ever headline tour outside of the US. The last tour they did on these shores was with Shinedown back at the beginning of the year, and then of course they played D(r)ownload this summer too, but this tour was a landmark event for sure.
As the lights go down in the room, a huge cheer erupts from the crowd, and the first band on the bill, Zico Chain take to the stage. These guys are good too. Playing rock music with raw power and energy, and it wasn’t long before the crowd warmed to them at all. These guys meant business, and why they aren’t playing headline tours of their own is a mystery. Although if they keep performing like this at live shows, it won’t be too long I should think. We’re treated to quite a few songs for such a relatively short set, and the band play to the crowd as though they’ve been doing it for 20 years or more. Audience participation from a ‘first support slot’ band is a brave move, but such was the quality of the performance, the crowd were all too happy to join in. The band, who incidentally looked nothing like they do on their website, except for Oli Middleton on Drums of course, he’s quite a character too, just watching him play and make faces at the crowd is a show all by it’s self. These guys are very much a “power trio” and Chris Glithero on bass and vocals is a real powerhouse. Completing the line up, is Paul Frost on guitar, who is every inch a show man, but has more than enough talent to back it up.
Heaven’s Basement were up next, and after the last performance, they were going to have to pull something good out of the bag to keep the momentum going. They did it too, and then some. This band have been around for a while, and suffered some setbacks along the way, even drafting in a temporary vocalist for 12 months or so. Now the band are built on solid ground again, and they put on a tremendous show. New vocalist Aaron Buchanan struts the stage like he was born to do it. He’s got to be one of the most charismatic front men I’ve seen in a while. Sid Glover on guitars also put in a commanding performance, and the rhythm section of Chris Rivers and Rob “Bones” Ellershaw kept things really tight. These guys are truly awesome, and their track record speaks for it’s self. Hard to believe then, that their DEBUT album is due out in January 2013. Keep an eye on HB, because I think 2013 could well be their year. They played a blistering set, including the new single ‘Fire Fire’ which went down a storm. It was all over far too quickly, but then that’s support slots for you.
After the first two bands, I really would not want to have been in Halestorm’s shoes. Halestorm know both of these bands, and invited them onto the tour, which, considering the amount of talent they have, was a pretty bold move. How many gigs have you been to, where the support bands have blown the main act off the stage? Exactly my point. Halestorm were going to need to put in the performance of their lives to top what had gone on before. We needn’t have worried though, because the guys were on top form. Arejay takes to the stage and addresses the crowd, a MASSIVE cheer erupts around the room, and then the rest of the band hit the stage like a juggernaut. The crowd lapped everything up that they gave, and honestly, we couldn’t have asked for more, we got more though, a lot more. Say what you like about Lzzy Hale, she’s a born performer, and her stage presence is huge. Joe Hottinger was on top form, and strangled the life out of his guitars, making them scream in agony. Josh Smith did his very best to burst our eardrums at every opportunity, with his thundering bass, and Arejay Hale? Arejay has got to be one of the most animated drummers in the world. There’s no way I can describe his drum solo, it just has to be seen to be believed, but as drum solos can be a little boring, Arejay made it interesting, and entertaining. This may well be Halestorm’s first headline shows on these shores, but after a performance like this, it is most assuredly not going to be their last.
The three bands on the bill provided every single person in the crowd with a memorable night of rock music, and I don’t think that there could have been anyone in the crowd that wasn’t happy with what they saw. We in the UK need to be vary wary, because if tonight is anything to go by, there’s a huge Halestorm heading our way sometime in the very near future, mark my words.
WANT TO CHECK OUT MORE PHOTOS FROM THE SHOW? View them all in the gallery. All pictures by Sophie Garrett / Words by Jon Seymour.