It's been a while. Living over two hours north of Sydney, ongoing health issues and then covid restrictions combined to make my #giglife pretty much non-existent since 2019. Recently returning to review writing has given me the boost I needed to get back out amongst the living post pandemic. Halestorm and Theory (of a Deadman) live at the Enmore Theatre this weekend was my “return to normal life” concert. And what a gig! It was a Sold Out show in Sydney, the place was packed to the rafters and the crowd was hyped for a night of rock ‘n’ roll. The line to get into the Enmore Theatre ran down the street and around the corner in both directions. As I waited for my friend to arrive, I people-watched and noted that it was an interesting demographic. From young kids possibly attending their first gig with their mum and or dad to older GenX and everything -and I mean everything- in-between. I determined that it's an intriguing and eclectic mixture of people who gravitate to and like Halestorm.
The Enmore Theatre finally opened its doors and the staff were well trained to get the crowd off the street and inside as quickly and as efficiently as possible. There was a big crowd at the merch table so it's obvious that music fans are more than happy to pay and support their favourite artists, that's an awesome thing to realise. Long Live Live Music! My friend and I found a spot up the back near the sound and light techs, the general admission area was packed.
It's showtime, and Canadian alt rockers Theory enter the stage. Apparently explaining the Of A Deadman part got tiresome to them so now it's just Theory, opened as the support act. It's a bit of a turnaround as Theory were the first band to take a young Halestorm on their first international tour with them as their support band, back in the day. Theory played a solid set of original and cover songs including fan favourites Rx (Medicate), Bad Girlfriend, new single Dinosaur and the Chris Isaac evergreen, Wicked Game. The sound mix had the drums vibrating through the floor and into your body which often made it difficult to clearly hear the vocals, but apart from that, it was an enjoyable set. The band were tight showing that they have been at this for a long time. Theory frontman, Tyler Connolly engaged and joked with the audience for about 45 minutes and warmed the crowd up for the main event.
Changeover was pretty quick, with a strange, somewhat eclectic selection of background music then after AC/DCs Hells Bells played over the speakers, the lights dimmed and American rockers Halestorm entered the stage to the welcoming cheers of the audience. Distorted guitar filled the room and the throaty scream from Lzzy Hale filled the theatre … “I'm Back From The Dead…” and we were off and running for a setlist filled with new and fan favourite tracks. It's exactly what I expected as Back From The Dead is the perfect song to open the set post-lockdown. Moving into Love Bites before playing new song, Wicked Ways to cheers from the audience. The crowd sang along with Lzzy to I Get Off followed by Brightside and current single, Mine from the Back From the Dead album (2022). The lights dimmed as the band exited and the stage crew brought a keyboard on stage. Lzzy returned, chatting with the audience as she began to play Break In, then moving into Dear Daughter, and Raise Your Horns. It was a short “acoustic” interlude where the audience sang along loudly, horns raised in the air and in lieu of a lighter, phone torches lit up. Joe Hottinger, guitarist, re-entered the stage once again as he played the opening riff to Familiar Taste of Poison, midway through, Bassist Josh Smith and Drummer Arejay Hale joined their bandmates building the intensity of the song until the end.
Then it was time for Arejay’s drum solo. It was entertaining as always, and he elicited cheers and laughter as he brought on a set of oversized drumsticks and continued to play. It’s his schtick, he does it at every show and the crowd always seem to enjoy it as they did this time.
Then Lzzy returns to the stage and asks, “Are you a Freak Like Me?” and the band burst into the song from the 2012 album A Strange Case Of… Flowing into 2018’s Back Vultures and rounding out the 75+_ minute set with the second single from the latest album, The Steeple.
The lights went down, Halestorm exited the stage and the crowd began to cheer, chant and clap, imploring the band to return for an encore. They happily obliged, returning to play Here's To Us, Mayhem and I Miss The Misery. Picks and sticks were tossed into the crowd, the now obligatory band on stage with audience in the background pics were taken, someone handed them an Australian flag with the Halestorm logo on it, which they held up, thanking the Aussie fans for their patience and support during covid.
The concert was everything that you would expect from a band of this calibre. Halestorm are one of the hardest working bands on the planet often playing in excess of 250 shows a year, they are professional and have perfected their particular style of show. Halestorm are a group who have kept that humble pub-band energy about them and they pull it off with aplomb. This was a short tour, in and out in three days, the three East Coast capital cities plus a couple of shows earlier in the week in NZ, then off to Japan. Lzzy mentioned during the concert that she was feeling tired and with their touring schedule, I’m not surprised, but she didn't show it. The band interacted with each other and with the crowd giving an energetic performance.
The intercommunication between Lzzy and Joe is almost cute as they vibe off each other with looks and smiles. Lzzy is multi-talented and as a frontwoman to a hard rock band, she is impressive and engaging. Some artists do outfit changes, Lzzy does guitar changes. As Gibson’s first female brand ambassador, with a stunning signature guitar, she is laying a path for young women in rock music. The #GuitarPorn at a Halestorm gig = #ChefsKiss. Joe Hottinger pulled out a couple of impressive lead guitar solos and Josh Smith's bass drove the rhythm with Arejays drumming. At times the sound mix was way too bass forward for my liking. It was loud, but not painful or jarring. I’m probably being nit-picky, because quite honestly, I can't think of anything negative to say.
At the end of the show they thanked and acknowledged their support act, Theory, and also acknowledged several fans in the front row who had followed them from city to city on this tour. If you've never seen Halesstorm perform live before, and you love a fun night out with a tight, entertaining pub-style rock band, then I highly recommend you do so next time they hit our sunny shores.