Shinedown / Halestorm – Glasgow O2 Academy

Halestorm (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[Many more pictures of both bands on these Flickr sets: Halestorm / Shinedown]

There was a third band on the bill for this gig, Liberty Lies, but we missed them. We caught about the last half of their last song and all I can say is that they sound far better live than the couple of songs I listened to on YouTube would have had me expect. Maybe another time.

Halestorm opened for Disturbed and Papa Roach when I saw them in December 2010 and I missed them due to the early doors at that gig. Judging by tonight’s performance that was a shame as they’re pretty damn good. Fronted and drummed by a sister/brother pairing, they’ve got a handful of decent songs as well as being very comfortable on stage.

Lzzy Hale is pretty damn hot, it must be said. And any woman who can play a full set, including jumping around, on 4″ heels deserves some respect. Her voice was a little… I dunno. It didn’t really work for me. It did work for Gillian, though, who bought their CD from the merch stand and is enjoying it immensely.

The band are good value for money, and drummer Arejay is worth watching. He’s not one of these “sit here and hit things thump thump” drummers, but very much a showman who makes the most of being stuck somewhere fairly stationary. If you’re not too caught up in the songs, keep an eye on him.

With a rather decent cover of Skid Row‘s “Slave to the Grind“, Halestorm filled an entertaining 40 minutes or so and deserved the good reception they got.

Shinedown (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

Shinedown hit the stage slightly later than the 21:30 start time we expected, which is a shame as they were so damn good I’d have lapped up every extra minute they could have given.

Opening with “Sound of Madness” and into “Devour”, they kicked everything off as they intended to continue. Loud, brash, bouncy. Frontman Brent Smith seemed to ignore the criticism he’d received on the last tour of talking too much and waffled a bit between songs. But you know what? So does Bruce Dickinson, and nobody gives him any crap about it.

With a new album out in April (I think), there were a couple of newer songs. A shame the notoriously poor sound at the Academy didn’t do them the justice they needed – in particular, and as ever, the vocals being mixed right down. Am I the only one that likes to hear the words in my hard rock? The main audience reaction, though, was for the better-known material and in particular that from the best-selling second album.

Shinedown are excellent live. They’ve just been confirmed for Download so if you can make it (despite the **** headliners and sub-headliners, and the fact that it’s not during the Scottish school holidays), make sure you catch them. They give a solid, fun performance and the smiles on their faces are infectious. It’s great to have a band look like they’re having the time of their lives on stage without them having to tell you every five minutes.

I also have to say that Zach Myers gave a hell of a show. That man’s a beast of a guitarist. I’m not taking anything away from the rest of the band, but he is awesome. Between his playing and Brent’s posing, you’ve got a superb pair up front. Eric Bass (aptly named…) and Barry Kerch complete the lineup though they never seemed quite as involved as the other two. Maybe it’s just the way the stage is laid out.

Talking of which, what’s with the Mike Myers (Halloween, not Austin Powers) mask off to the right of the drumkit? And the stagehands wearing bizarre headgear? Anyone?

Near the end of the set, things calmed down a little with a couple of ballads. Highlight was, of course, “Second Chance” – a song even better live than it is on album. Deservedly their highest-charting single to date. I do have a video of this, it may well make it to YouTube.

Given the very low ticket price of around £16, this has to be one of the best value gigs at a mid-sized venue I’ve been to. Gillian, Wendi and myself all had a great time and left with big smiles on our faces. Looking around the sell-out crowd spilling out into the cold, I don’t think we were in any way alone in this.

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