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Exclusive Review : Halestorm

Photo by Matt Christine
Photo by Matt Christine

     Halestorm returned home to Pennsylvania (sort of) last night as the brought with them the “Into the Wild Life Tour” that was billed as a night with the band. This meant that fans would get to hear many deep cuts performed as an acoustic set to start the evening followed by a full plugged in performance of the group’s newest record “Into the Wild Life.” Along the way plenty of other tracks from the band’s history were promised to make an appearance. However, this homecoming was unlike any other the band has had.

     On the eve of Halestorm’s homecoming to Pennsylvania the decision was made to change the venue of the concert from Festival Pier in Philadelphia to the Susquehanna Bank Center Across the river in Camden. The change was due in part to Halestorm caring about their loyal fans safety in the brewing hurricane that was raging up the Atlantic coast as well as an calculated move to ensure their Live DVD filming that was set to take place would go on as planned. On paper this was logistical nightmare but for the fans it was a blessing as the concert they had so long waited for would go on as planned.

Photo by Matt Christine
Photo by Matt Christine

     As the pouring rain beat down, dedicated fans outside huddled in groups to stay warm and some even waited in the safety of their cars for the rain to break before they made the trek to wait in line. Doors opened promptly at 7:30PM as was scheduled and the lobby of the Susquehanna Bank Center was soon transformed into a symphony of wet squeaking sneakers as fans ran to get in line for the pit section. The line quickly wrapped itself around the area and some fans decided they would be better off elsewhere as they ran into the seated section of the venue instead. The line moved painfully slow as every fan was wristband to enter the pit but they managed to get through the massive line before the band’s first performance of the evening.

     The show being sponsored by Jägermeister was kicked off with some well placed advertising and a few shots on stage before Halestorm walked on stage with no theatrics at all except the dimming of the lights. Lzzy Hale was the first and only member on stage for the first song as she belted out a medley of “Break In” and “Beautiful With You” from behind a beautiful white piano that was branded with the band’s logo. After a short applause and a smile for both the crowd and cameras recording the evening for the DVD she asked the “boys” to join her on stage as they quickly dove into “Rock Show” off their second full length album.

Photo by Matt Christine
Photo by Matt Christine

     To everyone’s surprise and delight the next song the band performed during their acoustic set was “I Get Off,” a song that many will remember as Halestorm’s first big break on rock radio nationwide. It was an interesting and bold move to include this song during the acoustic portion of the set but I applause band for doing so because it allowed them to pick up the pace while still managing to keep the performance stripped down. An interesting, yet welcomed cover of Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” also made it into the acoustic set for the crowd but was quickly out down when Josh Smith and Joe Hottinger began the opening chords of “Familiar Taste of Poison.”

     The band was in top form during the acoustic set but remained the playful characters they are on stage asking the crowd whether the preferred to be called Philly or Camden. By the end of the set they had decided they would just call them Philly or Philadelphia for the rest of the night and the crowd approved with a massive roar. The camera’s filming the band’s set whizzed above the heads of the crowd as they caught incredible angles that will certainly translate well into the final product. The acoustic set featured a stripped down lighting production set up but there was no doubt that things were amount to ramp up as the band walked off stage briefly which allowed the crowd to catch their breathe before the next go of Halestorm.

Photo by Matt Christine
Photo by Matt Christine

     The backdrop was changed, the piano was rolled off stage and things were set for the main event of the night as Halestorm returned to the stage. The band quickly emerged from the side of the stage to kick off the electric set with “Sick Individual” from “Into The Wild Life.” Lzzy Hale’s vocals have truly become iconic over the past 5 years and the band’s newest material will certainly cement her place in rock history. The first portion of the set was strictly songs off the new album and this was welcomed with open arms from fans who have proclaimed that the album is by the far the band’s greatest work to date.

Photo by Matt Christine
Photo by Matt Christine

     Credit must be given to the Lzzy Hale’s talented bandmates as well because stunning vocals would be nothing without masterclass drumbeats, flawless bass tracks, and perfect guitar riffs. Arejay Hale had the energy that no human should possess and he harnessed this insane amount of power in every song as he twirled around at his LED drumkit. Sticks were tossed into the air and caught without missing a beat as Arejay Hale kept the entire night rolling from behind his drumkit on the Susquehanna Bank Center Stage.

Photo by Matt Christine
Photo by Matt Christine

     On guitar Joe Hottinger traded riffs with Lzzy through out the night who was a guitar hero herself for a good portion of the show when she wasn’t too busy belting out iconic choruses. The shining moment for Hottinger came during “I Like It Heavy” when the band dropped their tuning down a few levels to play one of the more daring songs off their new album. Josh Smith must also be commended for his precise yet organic bass riffs that fuel many of Halestorm’s song. The beauty of this band is they are four talented musicians who come together under one banner to create raw rock n’ roll. We won’t spoil the setlist for those who want to wait for the DVD release but know that a few favorite tracks such as “Miss The Misery,” “Here’s To US,” and a few others band into the setlist with the “Into The Wild Life” tracks.

Photo by Matt Christine
Photo by Matt Christine

     Halestorm is Pennsylvania’s finest musical export and it is incredibly humbling that they haven’t forgotten their roots. We will always love Halestorm in this state and they will always love us. There is no official word as to when the Live DVD from tonight will be released but one thing is certain, when it does release rock n’ roll history will be  available for viewing in the comfort of your home. Halestorm blew the roof of the Susquehanna Bank Center in the middle of the hurricane and if you missed out, well you missed out. Thank you for the incredible night Lzzy Hale, Arejay Hale, Joe Hottinger and Josh Smith – Pennsylvania will always be here to support you.

Check out this exclusive photo gallery from Matt Christine Photography :

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