Halestorm + Dayshell + The Smoking Hearts @ Birmingham O2 Academy – 7th April 2014

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First up tonight, The Smoking Hearts hit the stage with an aggressive, hard-edged set perhaps more reminiscent of Black Flag than the more radio-friendly rock of tonight’s headliners. Whilst animated and whole hearted, the power of their set is somewhat lost on an audience who have arrived in droves looking for anthemic sing-a-longs and rock ‘n’ roll swagger. Nevertheless, The Smoking Hearts press on relentlessly with an energy only exceeded by punk nutcases Baby Godzilla and certainly prove interesting enough to catch at their own headline show.


Next up tonight are US-metallers Dayshell, a band who once again seem a little mismatched to the bill. Arriving on stage and instantly proving their worth in a barrage of vigour and a sonic bomb of metal, the band are consistently confident and bound full of presence. Sadly, there seems to be little crowd interest again, with an obliging cheer between each song sufficing as engagement from the audience. Dayshell however, are completely unfazed and seem continue to work as hard with their set as they would do to for a hometown show.

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As the opening salvo to I Miss the Misery screams through the PA, the otherwise sedate and agreeable crowd erupts to the arrival of tonight’s headliners, Halestorm. From some moderately humble beginnings opening at The Institute to this evening’s fully-fledged headline show at the Academy, there hasn’t been much time to blink during the American gang’s seemingly endless rise. Continuing to launch through their most popular songs, the let up only appears during some cover versions of songs that the audience here are possibly too young to be acquainted with — even a roaring version of Birmingham’s own Judas Priest seems to be met with confusion instead of the otherwise passionate response of the rest of tonight’s set.


Marching on through a set bejewelled with songs to raise the roof on the biggest of venues, the atmosphere in the Academy continues at fever pitch even during Arejay’s (drums) solo which is enjoyable as much due to his personality as to the technicality of his playing. Rare is it that a band member other than the singer has an extended interaction with audience, but he is able to carry it off due to unbridled confidence and, of course, the inclusion of the ‘big sticks’.

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Ending the main bulk of the set with the breakthrough song I Get Off, cries of ‘we want more’ can be heard throughout the venue, signalling that, although we’re over an hour in already, Birmingham is far from done tonight and duly, the band return to the stage with the unreleased and entirely new track Mayhem — think Hardcore Superstar’s Are You Gonna Cry Now, but perhaps a little less eccentric — followed by the evening’s best cover by far, a stripped back, roaring rock version of Daft Punk’s Get Lucky.

Reaching the rock radio anthem of Here’s To Us there isn’t a silent voice in the house as the evening is rounded off with a singalong feelgood atmosphere. With performances like this evening’s, Halestorm are rapidly proving that they are arena-ready, and with their meteoric rise thus far, that doesn’t seem too far away.

Set List:
I Miss the Misery
Love Bites (So Do I)
It’s Not You
Freak Like Me
Straight Through the Heart
(Dio cover)
You Call Me a Bitch Like It’s a Bad Thing
Don’t Know How to Stop
Rock Show
Gold Dust Woman
(Fleetwood Mac cover)
Break In
Familiar Taste of Poison
Drum Solo
(Sections of AC/DC’S song ‘… more)
Dissident Aggressor
(Judas Priest cover)
Mz. Hyde
Daughters of Darkness
I Get Off
Get Lucky
(Daft Punk cover)
Here’s to Us

Review – George Willatt
Photos – Katie Foulkes

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