Halestorm + Heaven’s Basement – Glasgow Garage

Heaven's Basement
Heaven’s Basement (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[Links to pictures on Flickr: Heaven’s Basement / Halestorm]

Due to silly things like needing to eat and put a young boy to bed, we made it to the Garage about half way through Heaven’s Basement‘s set. Now, I swear I’ve heard their name before and might have seen them opening for someone else but I don’t remember. They’re not bad – confident, professional and definitely capable of warming up a crowd for the headliners.

Any band which can have the lead singer stagedive at the end then be surfed around without being covered in beer or dropped on the floor has obviously made a good impression.

From a possible up-and-coming success to a band that’s managed to get its foot firmly on the stepladder – the brother-and-sister fronted Halestorm. I first missed this act when they opened the Taste of Chaos tour in 2010, finally saw them earlier this year opening for Shinedown and bought tickets for their headlining Cathouse gig the day they went on sale. Which was a good thing as they were upsized to the Garage and promptly sold out.

Halestorm have had a fairly quick rise, but this is well-deserved. The band are all talented musicians, especially the core of Lzzy and Arejay Hale. All four members are great on stage, too. Josh Smith looks meaty and moody as any bassist should, Joe Hottinger is a good-looking guy who poses and bounces around on guitar, Lzzy Hale is stunning and incredibly talented vocally and musically, while Arejay Hale is one of the funniest and most entertaining drummers you will ever see playing live.

“Lzzy, this is a bottle of Buckfast – hi.” (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

It’s also very, very obvious watching them that they’re loving every moment of being up there. All too often you hear bands telling the crowd how awesome they are and how it’s the best place to play. Halestorm go that little further and mention that it’s simply being on stage and being able to tour that means so much to them. You know, I’d rather be classed in with every fan who’s helped them get there than be complimented because “[insert city here] is just so great and we always want to play here, and you’re the best crowd and blah.” Lzzy does tend to gush a little about this, but it just emphasised the sincerity – they’re incredibly fortunate to have this life and they appreciate it.

With nothing but a light show and their talent to carry the performance, the quartet did splendidly. Halestorm have a range of songs from rock anthems to ballads and all the stops were pulled out, including a passable cover of Judas Priest‘s “Dissident Aggressor” (yes, Slayer covered this on South of Heaven as well). Lzzy’s vocals work well to hit Halford’s infamous high notes!

With a bassist who also plays keyboard, a singer who does guitar and her own keyboard duties and a drummer who’ll happily perform a solo using his hands, feet or  umbrellas to play his instrument of choice you know you’re in for some top end entertainment and Halestorm certainly didn’t disappoint.

The set ran for roughly an hour and a quarter and covered both albums plus the aforementioned cover song. “I Get Off”, “A Familiar Taste Of Poison”, “Love Bites (So Do I)”, “Mz. Hyde”, “Rock Show”, “You Call Me A Bitch Like It’s A Bad Thing”… and more. Every song thoroughly lapped up by the audience who punched the air, bounced and waved their arms depending on the tune.

Arejay with “gift” (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

With the ever-present curfew, the band didn’t take more than a minute to walk off before their curtain call and as the deadline hit them they ended with a toast to the audience… including their first taste of Buckfast. Oh dear. Arejay left with a lovely souvenir of his visit to Glasgow, too – a pair of rather frilly knickers thrown at him by (one hopes!) a female audience member.

The only disappointment with the gig was that we couldn’t take Little Miss. There are very few “all ages” gigs in Glasgow as most venues are licensed so they tend to have an “over 14’s only” policy, even when accompanied by a parent. Having said that, a crammed Garage isn’t really somewhere an eleven year old girl would have been happy, I don’t think, and this show was sold out.

Halestorm are a band who would not be out of place on a much larger stage. They have the presence and the charisma to carry it off, and I’m sure they’ll keep on going. Best of luck to them, and we’re really looking forward to seeing them again – hopefully at a more spacious, youngster-friendly venue!

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Judas Priest / Queensryche Glasgow SECC

Judas Priest
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

[79 pics of the nights in this Flickr set]

The first of two big nights at the SECC with Iron Maiden tomorrow. It’s almost like a mini-festival with comfier beds.

Tonight, though, Judas Priest with Queensryche and Rival Sons in support. We missed Rival Sons entirely and only made it in time to see maybe three songs by Queensryche. In honesty, I was never a fan and what little I saw of them was never going to sway me. They’re not bad… they just never grabbed me musically.

If memory serves, this is the third time I’ve seen Judas Priest live. The first was way back in the early 90’s on the Painkiller tour at Newcastle City Hall. I only got tickets as Annihilator were opening for them. I ended up front row for a very impressive gig by a band I knew about 3 songs by.

Next up was Graspop in 2008, coincidentally with Iron Maiden headlining one of the other nights. Here they put on a great show, but Rob Halford really looked like he was struggling.

Judas Priest
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

No such problems this evening. Once the annoying DJ stopped messing about (good music, but good grief… what a nutjob), the curtain dropped and Priest burst into life. A shame KK Downing had left the band but nobody could have any complaints about new member Richie Faulkner. Aside from being a bit younger than the rest, he fit right in and was note perfect. Well done, son.

I’ll admit to not being the biggest Priest fan. I know a couple of the really old numbers, but mainly I got into them around the time of Ram It Down. As such, I didn’t recognise some of the tracks, but it didn’t really matter. Sure, I enjoyed “Painkiller”, “Nostradamus” and “Blood Red Skies” that bit more but the show was powerful enough that even the handful of tracks I didn’t recognise were enjoyable enough.

A half dozen flash pots, some smoke stacks and a bunch of lasers were all that was needed alongside a nice big amplified rig. Halford doesn’t talk a lot to the crowd, but what he does say is nice enough – pointing out album covers, crediting the original writers of songs Priest have covered and so on. Even a drum solo towards the end didn’t dampen the crowd who really started to go mad past the halfway mark of the 2-hour show with a pit opening up. OK, so there were only about 10 people in it at the peak, but still…

Judas Priest
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

Two encores rounded off the evening, and of course the highlight was Breaking The Law”. I don’t think Halford sang a word of the first verse and chorus, leaving it to the audience to make the noise.

It’s a shame this is their last ever world tour, but at least we know there’s another album on the way and live dates will be forthcoming, though not on the scale of the past. In fairness to the guys, they’re all around the sixty mark and have been doing this for an incredible forty years. I hope I have that much energy when I get there. And that my beard mysteriously gains colour like Halford’s. Seriously, why isn’t his grey? No fair.

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