Words & photos David Pickles
It’s been 4 long years since Halestorm were last in Sheffield and at this very same venue but tonight they are back to rock this steel city. As I arrive at the venue for the 7.00pm doors I am greeted by the longest queue I have ever seen at this venue, in fact as it snakes into the distance, I am sure it goes right around the whole city. There is a buzz in the air tonight. Everyone has come out early for an evening with Halestorm and yes, it’s going to be a full evening. They are support AND main act tonight.
It had been touch and go whether this tour would even go ahead and for the UK it did but for our friends in Europe sadly they will have to wait, with the dreaded COVID putting paid to their fun. Well, not for us tonight at the Church of Rock… well, the Sheffield O2! We were ready.
Lzzy Hale walks out on her own and up to the piano – no band, just Lzzy and its Lzzy who welcomes everyone to the show, “This is an evening with Halestorm. We are the opening act, and we get to do whatever the fuck we want all night, and we all get to celebrate the triumphant return of live music”. You bet we do! “Light up your cell phones and old school lighters tonight,” she calls, and she goes straight into ‘Break In’. We are in for a treat tonight, ‘Break In’ is stripped back, both chilling and beautiful. ‘God Bless the Beast’ is next, a track that she says has never been recorded and only been played a handful of times. She dedicates this to a group of German fans on the front row and I guess if Halestorm can’t get to Germany right now then their fans will come to them. Throughout this tour we are treated to a different cover each night, Lzzy explains that after the soundcheck they learnt a song from a local hero and tonight it’s Sheffield’s own Joe Cocker and a version of his cover of the Billy Preston song ‘You Are So Beautiful To Me’ and it was indeed a beautiful version. One more from Lzzy with ‘Raise your Horns’, before the band join her on stage.
They have a flight case style settee for Lzzy and Joe to sit on and an old drum for Josh and a small drum kit for Arejay to the front of the stage in true support band set up, chilled and friendly springs to mind. With this semi – acoustic set up we are treated to ‘The Silence’, ‘Mz. Hyde’, ‘Apocalyptic’, ‘Heart of Novocaine’ finishing with ‘I Am The Fire’. Interspersed with chat and jokes from Arejay, a very fine 45-minute 1st set before they return to plug it in and turn it up.
20 minutes later they are back, amps turned up to 11 and ready to kick some serious ass. Lzzy in her trademark high heeled shoes, short black skirt studded leather jacket, playing a black Gibson SG ready to slay all who stand before her. Straight into ‘Rock Show’ then ‘Black Vultures’ and ‘Killing Ourselves’ then to the iconic ‘The Strange Case of…’ album, which we get a total of 8 songs from tonight. Next a song off the first album and a shout out to all who saw Halestorm when they first came to the UK in 2010 and those who are hear for the first time, ‘I Get Off’. Following this Lzzy announces that “this one is for the ladies in the house and that includes Joe, and you should see his legs” before launching into ‘Daughters of Darkness’.
Then we have a couple of new songs ‘Bombshell’ which had its live debut earlier in the UK tour and then the latest single ‘The Steeple’, this is my church, and you are my people, a true epic and I am sure it will be in the set for a very long time. ‘Amen’ is another classic with an extended jam, which could go on forever, the energy this band have is off the scale, they definitely kick ass. Arejay has his time to shine with his drum solo – what a mighty drummer and a great entertainer he is. Another new song with ‘Back From The Dead’, then into ‘Freak Like Me’ and ‘Uncomfortable’. It’s over all too quick, but there is of course the encore. “Here’s to Rock ‘n’ Roll and Live music,” Lzzy screams and what three classics we have to finish ‘Here’s to Us’, ‘Love Bites’ and ‘I Miss The Misery’.
Halestorm are one of the best rock bands going. Lzzy is an amazing front woman with a voice to die for, with Joe Hottinger, Arejay Hale and Josh Smith a mighty powerhouse supporting her talents. An Evening with Halestorm is indeed a very special experience. Catch them if you can and that’s an order.
Gallery to follow…