Halestorm Manchester 2022

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Billed as 'An Evening With Halestorm' there was no support, giving the band plenty of scope to indulge themselves.

Manchester : Albert Hall - 27th February 2022

I saw Halestorm when they visited the UK for this first time in early 2010, as support to Theory Of A Deadman. Though I have seen them seven or eight times since, this is the first time since August 2015, when they played the 'Into The Wild Life' album in its entirety on a very warm night at a packed Academy in Liverpool. With a new album ('Back From The Dead') due in May 2022 this was a good opportunity for a catch up on older favourites, songs from 2018's 'Vicious' (which I have never seen performed live) and also previews of new material. Billed as 'An Evening With Halestorm' there was no support, giving the band plenty of scope to indulge themselves.

I think a number of people were taken by surprise when Lzzy made a low-key entrance to the keyboard positioned centre stage and after a polite "Hello" started the show with an emotional version of 'Break In'. The next song, again performed solely by Lzzy, was the first new song of the night. 'Raise Your Horns' will be featured on the forthcoming album, so in some ways it was a little strange to hear it showcased in an acoustic format. When the rest of the band appeared we were back on more familiar ground with an energetic run through 'Mz Hyde'. To say Lzzy, Joe Hottinger (guitar), Arejay Hale (drums) and Josh Smith (bass) were dressed casually would be something of an understatement as, quite amusingly, they looked ready for a stint of painting and decorating. Arejay occasionally (and unsuccessfully) tried his hand at a little stand-up, but it was clear he should stick to what he's really good at. Songs such as 'I'm Not An Angel', 'Heart Of Novocaine' and 'Familiar Taste Of Poison' are all well-suited to the acoustic format and though I could have done without the cover of 'Don't Look Back In Anger' the first set closer 'The Silence' certainly made up for it.

After a break Lzzy, Joe, Josh and Arejay returned wearing something more in line with a Rock show (including Lzzy's trademark heels) and for the following eighty minutes we were in full-on electric mode. An "in-your-face" 'Back From The Dead' got things under way and if I was underwhelmed with the song initially it certainly took on a more imposing identity in the live environment. 'Love Bites (So Do I)' and 'Mayhem' raised the temperature levels further and even those seated upstairs risked the dizzy heights to rise to their feet. The first real sense of indulgence came during a lengthy jam session at the end of 'Amen' which segued into Arejay's entertaining solo spot, complete with the staple "big sticks" section. 'Freak Like Me', 'Killing Ourselves To Live' and 'I Am The Fire' brought things to a close and then the crowd got the chance to have a bit of a sing-a-long during 'Here's To Us', which got the encore under way. Two more new songs, 'Bombshell' and current single 'The Steeple', may not have been as well-known as a lot of the other material, but I don't think the crowd minded too much. An extended 'I Miss The Misery' then had more endings than the 'Lord Of The Rings' films and brought the evening to a close.

If I am completely honest the show would have been more enjoyable if I had been more comfortable. The event was completely over-sold and there was hardly room to breathe downstairs. Once my three-song photo stint was complete I was escorted to the back of the room, where I could see very little due to the sea of arms in front of me holding cameras in the air. It was virtually impossible to move and there was no way to get to the bar for a drink. Those issues are in no way a fault of the band however, who made another triumphant return to the UK.

Dave Bott

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