Halestorm Sydney (Sydney, NSW)

6 December 2019 at Enmore Theatre

First up was Villany. These guys were a late addition to the lineup as Southern rockers Black Stone Cherry, unfortunately, had to withdraw last minute due to a death in the family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the band during this difficult time.

Black Stone Cherry have a large following and a dedicated Australian fan base (including myself) who have been lobbying the band to come Down Under for an extremely long time. As such their replacement left some fans upset and non-responsive to any potential replacement.  Villany had massive shoes to fill and a lot of pressure on their shoulders heading into this Australian tour with Halestorm.

In this high-stakes situation, performing to both disappointed Black Stone Cherry fans and Halestorm fanatics looking to get amped for their favourite band’s long-awaited performance, Villany did not disappoint. The NZ rockers blasted out of the gate at 110%, demonstrating why they have secured support slots with bands such as ACDC and The Offspring despite their relatively recent formation. Playing a mix of songs from their recent studio release, which debuted at #2 in the NZ Top 40 (beaten only by Ed Sheeran!), including their catchy single Dreams, as well as their earlier material. Frontman Neill Fraser displayed a dynamic stage presence, engaging those at the very back of the seated-area as much as those in the front row.

The band seems to specialise in anthemic tracks. I’ve already mentioned Dreams once before but it is certainly worth a second. The track’s chorus cry “No one gives a fu*k about your dreams” is oddly inspiring and had the entire crowd calling out the phrase, most of whom were undoubtedly hearing the song for the first time. This says a lot about Villany’s music – it is catchy and encourages a first-time-listen sing-along, a factor which is certainly key to their success so far. It also made them the perfect band to replace Black Stone Cherry. I can guarantee that many fans of Black Stone Cherry who came wanting to be disappointed were proved wrong and come Saturday were Villany fans!

Following Villany’s impressive performance it was time for the main event and an expectant air hush fell over the crowd as Halestorm prepared to take the stage. If my memory serves me right the set began with Do Not Disturb; I certainly remeber madly dashing to the front of the crowd when the opening riff rang out so that checks out, the groovy tune definitely worth such an effort.

Lzzy Hale oozed confidence and barely restrained sexual energy throughout the entire set which perfectly matched the tone of their songs, most obviously Do Not Disturb and I Get Off. That is not at all to suggest that this is the dominant appeal of Halestorm. Rather, it merely adds another element on top of fantastic songwriting, amazing musical performances, and an exciting stage show. This was most visibly demonstrated by drummer Arejay Hale’s 5-minute drum interlude during which he managed to entertain and excite the entire audience wholly by himself.

As an aside, the crowd, while clearly entertained evidenced by their constant cries and cheers, was somewhat lacklustre. Despite the fact this was a rock show there was almost no movement within the crowd whatsoever. I hope was a ‘Sydney thing’ as opposed to a snapshot of all Halestorm’s Australian crowds as the band and their music deserve more. Notwithstanding this Halestorm continued to crush their set, playing hit after hit with impressive similarity to their recorded material. This included powerful renditions of I Am The Fire, Black Vultures, and Viscious, all anthemic songs which the crowd eagerly joined in singing. I was slightly disappointed the set didn’t include their cover of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance but you can’t have it all!:) As you may have expected the band closed off the night with their hit single I Miss The Misery, an incredibly powerful song detailing the link between love and pain which Lzzy delivered with passion.

A fantastic night and 2 fantastic bands.

Line-up: Halestorm, Villany

Reviewer: Cal McGlinchey