It is fair to say with this show and this performance, Halestorm have come of age and shown that they are now more than capable of stepping up to be arena headliners here in the UK.
OVO Arena Wembley – 9 December 2023
Words: Adrian Stonley
Photography: Robert Sutton
Stepping out onto the stage following a storming Black Veil Brides set, nothing more than a phenomenal performance would suffice tonight. Lzzy and the boys in the band more than met the criteria, bringing about one of the most astounding transformations I have ever seen.
Having seen Halestorm live on a number of occasions in the past, I always felt that they were one of those bands that I would classify as good, really good. But I questioned whether they could make the next step up to the big time.
They have been with us for a few years now, and the omens were possibly not so good. They were always a good mid-range festival, a smaller venue band, but… how wrong was I? Because, tonight, this was one of the most stunningly impressive shows I’ve seen from them. Tonight, performance-wise, Halestorm came of age.
This is a band that now really have the world at their feet. They’ve earned their arena headliner status, and it is very satisfying knowing that after so many years of hard graft, it has finally paid off, and in bucketloads.
From the moment Lzzy walked out on stage bravely opening her soul with a solo, unaccompanied a capella style rendition of the Raise Your Horns intro and chorus, she more than threw down a gauntlet. Her voice was quite honestly phenomenal tonight.
She has always had impressive power and range and an incredible ability to channel that power in her vocal. Yet tonight, she raised the bar several levels. With the band entering to an explosion of confetti from stage cannons, the band ripped into I Miss The Misery, a song full of angst and venom. Lzzy spits out the lyric as only she can. With Love Bites (So Do I) following in a similar vein, it was clear that something magical was about to unfold as she prowled the stage, and the audience surged and bounced along with the band.
Something that was particularly noticeable tonight was the high volume of female fans here. Clearly, Lzzy and the band have the ability to reach out to the ladies in what has for so often been a male-dominated environment. Lzzy was not going to let this opportunity go unnoticed. She reached out to the girls/women in the audience, announcing she was proud to be a woman and proud of her bitches, before urging the girls to get up on shoulders and let themselves be seen.
Lzzy has become the consummate performer and frontwoman oozing sass and attitude, and everyone was going to immerse themselves in it.
Rolling the clock back to the first album, they blasted out I Get Off, with another incredible vocal foray from Lzzy as she stripped the song bare and interspersed Heart’s Crazy On You into the tune.
Wicked Ways slowed matters down for a few moments before the Arena erupted as Lzzy announced, “Wembley, we’re all freaks tonight.” Halestorm tore into Freak Like Me, and the raised voices of a sold-out Arena urged Lzzy on. A powerhouse of a performance, she held scream after scream, showing up many of her counterparts in the length and purposefulness of the notes she held.
If we thought things couldn’t get any better, then Amen gave lead guitarist Joseph Hottinger the perfect opportunity to showcase his ability and show that he wasn’t there as a foil to Lzzy. Hottinger is a serious guitar player in his own right. He fired through the strings, tearing and ripping every drop of emotion out of his instrument. Lzzy then stepped in to push the level up in a tough, blues-filled solo before the two went head to head, dualling against each other. Quite breath-taking.
After that, it was only natural that the band had to take the foot off the pedal, albeit briefly. Lzzy and Joseph slowed matters down with an acoustic Terrible Things, although there was clearly no rest for Lzzy’s voice as she stretched her range higher and higher.
A brief respite came with a gentle interlude featuring the opening lines and chorus of Rock Show before merging into another golden oldy in Familiar Taste of Poison.
Takes My Life saw the band return to the stage with a roar before drummer and younger brother Arejay tore into his drum kit, enabling Lzzy to step away for a few minutes. A typical flamboyant solo, culminating in Arejay drumming with the largest and longest pair of sticks you will ever see
The audience horns were raised for Bombshell, complete with bubble blower before both Lzzy and Joseph swapped guitars for a pair of double necks before announcing that “tonight was a rite of passage.” They urged the audience to light up Wembley with their phone torches for an emotional I Am The Fire.
The encores saw Lzzy return solo, playing a small white piano, with a glitterball lighting up the Arena in swirling lights and fake snow being blown. She wrung every drop of emotion out of Break In, then Shatter Me.
The audience again raised their hands for a full rendition of Raise Your Horns, a song that title-wise sounds as though it should be a full-blown Metal bombast but is actually a delightful, well-crafted ballad.
Here’s To Us, with a precursor of the band drinking shots and toasting the audience, led the final onslaught, with Joseph donning a Union Jack guitar before ripping into their audience appreciation anthem, The Steeple. As the stage erupted to a ticker tape and streamer close, it was as though Broadway had arrived in Wembley.
This was quite simply a triumphant and astounding showing by a band who have now raised the bar and stepped up to the next level. Lzzy’s vocal prowess is intense and powerful and a joy to behold, putting many of her peers to shame. The band behind her are now incredibly tight and musically more than adept at kicking out the jams.
The world is now their oyster, and the future of Halestorm is still to be written.
Somehow, it is going to make for immense and astounding reading.