Concert Reviews

Halestorm / Nothing More Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     April 19, 2015    
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Halestorm / Nothing More - Apollo, Manchester (UK) - 14 March 2015

It was good to see the Apollo full when Texas based Christian metal quartet Nothing More took to the stage. I had only recently become acquainted with their powerful brand of technically infused modern rock and, being impressed with what I'd heard, was interested to see how some of the complex arrangements would translate to the live environment. The introduction to proceedings certainly made everyone take notice. Lead singer Johnny Hawkins took to a computerised drum set-up centre stage, hammering out some stylish drum patterns in tandem with main drummer Paul O'Brien and accompanied by guitarist Mark Vollelunga and bass player Daniel Oliver. The actual songs lost something in the rumbling mix but made a considerable impact once the engineer finally found his feet. Another instrumental interlude saw Hawkins, Vollelunga and Oliver all playing the bass together, one hammering, one plucking and one hitting with drumsticks (a new one on me for sure) and it was easy to admire the musical skills on display. The extensive visuals took nothing away from the quality of the songs and Nothing More are definitely a band I want to see again.

I was due to interview Lzzy Hale during the afternoon but she was suffering with a virus and advised by doctors to cancel all press engagements and save her voice for the show. It was obvious during opening number 'Love Bites (So Do I)' that she wasn't 100% but the additional backing vocals of guitarist Joe Hottinger and bass player Josh Smith, along with 2,500 enthusiastic crowd members, ensured any inadequacies were disguised, especially during the higher register melodies and more incendiary passages. It was great to see one of my favourite bands finally rewarded with a large stage to ply their wares and they seemed very comfortable. They revelled in the extra space and I don't think I have ever seen Hottinger and Smith as animated or relaxed. The set still concentrates on sophomore album 'The Strange Case Of.....' but newer songs 'Amen', 'Mayhem', 'Apocalyptic' and 'I Like It Heavy', all taken from 'Into The Wild Life', slotted in seamlessly and again allowed for extensive audience participation.

Lzzy's solo spot was a powerful rendition of 'Hate To See You Cry'. Just a guitar and a voice, but brilliantly executed considering what I knew about her discomfort. Arejay Hale often threatens to steal the show with his antics behind the small but perfunctory drum kit and his entertaining solo is always a highlight. Once again he did not disappoint during his 'big sticks' routine and I'm sure it lasted a little longer than usual so that Lzzy could get some much needed rest between songs. This was the last stop on the current UK tour and it came to a close with power and passion. 'Mz Hyde' and 'I Miss The Misery' saw Lzzy really pushing herself and every person in the building helped as much as they could. The 'Here's To Us' encore is a fitting last song, giving everyone the opportunity to swear and stick a middle finger in the air....all in the name of rock of course.

I know they will be back later in the year and I will be in the crowd again. Halestorm go from strength to strength as the larger venues and CD sales testify. Surely world domination beckons.

Dave Bott

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