DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Halestorm - 'Live In Philly 2010' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 03, 2011    
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A great DVD/CD package.

Halestorm are one of the best new bands to emerge in recent times and whose cause I've been championing since the debut full length album back in 2009. This is my fourth review, following the album and two live performances, yet I'm sure I can't be the only one fighting the Halestorm cause. If you are unfamiliar with the Philadelphia four piece and their infectious brand of pop/rock then where have you been? If you are reading this magazine and have a penchant for female vocalists akin to Debbie Davis (Witness) or Sandi Saraya and have lent the occasional ear in the direction of Kelly Clarkson or Lesley Roy, then 'Live In Philly' will be right up your street. 

Constant touring, not to mention some great songs, has led to the build up of a healthy fan base, and this show, recorded in their home town, shows just how fervent a following the band has. This one hour show exemplifies perfectly how well the four relatively young musicians can entertain as well as showcasing some instantly memorable material. As I write I've had the DVD/CD set for about a fortnight and have watched/listened around half a dozen times already. Only one full albums worth of songs to choose from means the running time is lean and every track from the 2009 CD is performed, but for almost an hour I'm captivated by the raw energy and passion with which the show progresses. Lzzy Hale is a star in her own right and seeing her on stage only enhances my opinion. She has a voice belying such tender years and her stage persona is highly confident and oozing sex appeal (she also seems to have a laugh Sid James would be proud of). The rendition of 'I'm Not An Angel' is something of a solo spot and her singing has a passion and emotion that gives me goosebumps on my goosebumps. I'm floored by the controlled power of the vocal delivery and it's a mid set highlight that I could watch again and again. Brother Arejay mans the drum stool and this guy is almost a one man show. I saw his performance at the Taste Of Chaos gig in Manchester just before Christmas and he has developed even further since this recording was made. He literally batters the skins and it's hard not to take your eyes off him. Check out 'Love/Hate Heartbreak' for a demonstration of his skills within the context of a song. Guitarist Joe Hottinger and bass player Josh Smith are also important in creating the Halestorm sound and their roles in the band cannot be underestimated. Saying that, it just seems that the cameras are attracted to Lzzy & Arejay like a magnet, constantly picking up on mannerisms and visual flair. 

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As well as an overriding appetite for playing live and an enthusiasm evident from the smiling faces, Halestorm also have the ability to throw in a musical curveball. This comes in the form of a four person drum solo known as 'Boom City' included as part of Arejay's solo which is also something of a delight.......biggest drumsticks in the world anyone? The ardent crowd seem to know the words to every song and when Lzzy asks them to bounce during 'Dirty Work' I'm surprised we didn't feel the tremors over here in the UK! My only criticism, which is ever so slight, relates to the set closer. 'Better Sorry Than Safe' is a great song (a typical Brian Howes co-write) but is a mid-paced semi ballad that would have fit better during the main part of the show. I think 'Dirty Work' or even 'I Get Off' would have brought things to a rousing conclusion but I can't really complain.

The CD duplicates the show in every way (including the drum solo) aside from missing 'What Were You Expecting', which seems strange as it certainly has nothing to do with running time restrictions. A limited number of cameras means the edit is straight forward and as a result lets the music do the talking. Though the audio mix isn't 5.1, if you turn up the volume there'll still be enough wallop to let the neighbours sing along. The DVD also contains nice promo videos for 'It's Not You', 'I Get Off', 'Familiar Taste Of Poison' and 'Love/Hate Heartbreak', none of which I've seen before, as well as an extensive photo gallery that I think would have benefitted from being set to music. The record company obviously has total confidence in the band to be backing a live release so early in their career and for that they can only be commended. With a new album in the pipeline world domination surely awaits, so 'Live In Philly' may be the closest you get to seeing Halestorm once that happens. 

Dave Bott

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