While the cold winds blew and the rain pelted down upon old Belfast town, many a rocker sought out the dark shelter of the Telegraph Building on the blustery September evening. But it was not the weather that corralled rockers of all ages into the old cavernous printing building in the first place. It was the landing of a storm of another kind that drew rock addicts to this place. Halestorm were in Belfast tonight!
The support act, Jet Fuel Chemistry, came straight onto stage and started blasting into “Flinch”. The full ensemble rocked their hearts out and gave a blistering performance as they delivered “Karma”, a Rage Against the Machine Cover “Bulls on Parade” and a good signature tune “Raised by Wolves”. These Dublin lads are not even going a year, and while there is room to become more slick they are well on their way. They have a Killswitch Engage vibe about them as they bang out their tunes and the way they interacted with the crowd showed they were thoroughly enjoying every moment on stage. They finish the set by slamming out “Phantom” to an appreciative crowd. The band gave it all, and that is all anyone can ask for. They definitely lived up to their name, though with the energy they produced they could rename themselves Rocket Fuel. The crowd recognised that too and as Jet Fuel Chemistry left the stage they may well have pulled in a few new fans.
Out of the darkness strode Lzzy Hale resplendent in a fluffy red coat, dressed by the Eurythmics, the mischievous grin of Blondie and the voice of a true rock queen, she grabbed the mic and engaged the audience like only she can. “Hello Belfast!”, corny, clichéd and overdone – yes. Utterly spot on because it was done with Lzzy’s drawl caressing every letter – on the money. It’s also not often you here blokes shouting “I love you Lzzy”. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, Halestorm had arrived!!
Off Lzzy started with an Acapella of “I Get Off” before slamming into “Do Not Disturb”. The Halestorm motor was well and truly revved and rocking the place. “Apocalyptic”, “Love Bites (So Do I)” keeps the place rocking as Lzzy becomes a powerhouse of a duracel bunny, always moving, talking to the audience, singing her lungs out. And what an experience to see her singing live, when you find out in person that this woman has a voice that is made of adamantium – powerful, gravelly, incredible range and never broken or off note.
Then Lzzy announces a special treat for Belfast with a rendition of “Takes My Life”, a Tour debut as they play it for the first time since 2016. The crowd just go mad with rapture. “Vicious”, “Amen (with extended outro jam)” and “Familiar Taste of Poison” gives the crowd even more of what they wanted. Lzzy is by now coatless and by the looks of it, it was a good thing. The Telegraph Building is not a warm place, but the energy of the band and the audience had the place well warmed up.
“Skulls”, “Uncomfortable”, and “I Am the Fire” show more than anything that Halestorm are an incredible band to see live. They did not slow the flow and banged out each and every song with utter gusto and unflinching punk rock attitude. “Mz. Hyde” leads into an outstanding drum solo by AreJay Hale that had everyone mesmerised, even more so when he put on an ape mask and still delivered a great beat but with the largest drumsticks you will ever lay your eyes on.
“Freak Like Me” and “Killing Ourselves to Live” finish the main set to a rapturous cheer. It was a full enough set but it felt like they had only been on for five minutes. They were that good.
Lzzy stepped forward on the stage and almost matter of fact said “We’re not done with you yet, Belfast” Sitting down along with Joe Hottinger she crooned “The Silence” before hitting the acceleration button with “I Miss the Misery (with extended outro jam)” and capping the whole evening off with “Here’s to Us”. The outro music could indeed only be Mr Mancini’s “The Pink Panther Theme”. What a night!
Overall Jet Fuel Chemistry gave a very good account of themselves and are definitely a band to watch over the next couple of years. The force they hit the stage reverberated around the building and there was no way you could ignore them. They pulled your attention towards the stage.
Halestorm were just amazing. In fact Amazeballs! Awesome sauce!! Lzzy’s powerful soul filled rock vocals, Arejay’s perfect drums and his mischievously boisterous drumstick work, Joe’s guitar work, and Josh’s solid bass play coalesced into a perfect place, perfect time moment as the Telegraph Building reverberated to the sound of well delivered, slickly professional, soulfully hard, rocking music that held everyone there tight together. What a fantastic night. Halestorm are a very special band indeed.
If you can make it to any of the rest of their UK tour, do yourself a massive favour and go!
Halestorm UK Tour
- 22 Sep – O2 Academy Sheffield, Sheffield, UK with REWS
- 23 Sep – O2 Academy Glasgow, Glasgow, UK with REWS
- 24 Sep – O2 Academy Birmingham, Birmingham, UK with REWS
- 26 Sep – O2 Apollo Manchester, Manchester, UK with REWS
- 28 Sep – O2 Academy Brixton, London, UK with REWS
- 29 Sep – O2 Academy Bristol, Bristol, UK with REWS