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Gig Review: Halestorm + Bellusira

Halestorm + Bellusira
170 Russell, Melbourne
8 December 2015
Review by Rod Whitfield

Of the two chick-fronted hard rockin’ bands tonight; one I am very familiar with, the other I barely knew a song of, this was bound to be an interesting evening’s entertainment.

And so it was.

Walking in just as Bellusira were starting their set, the queue to the merch desk was right back to the main entry way at the bottom of the stairs. If you are familiar with the 170 Russell venue, (formerly Billboard) you’ll know that’s a damn long queue to buy merch. Good signs.

Another good sign was the almost capacity crowd that was there for the support act, and right for the start of their set at 8.00pm. Bellusira were a Melbourne based band, but moved to LA almost two years ago to pursue rock ‘n’ roll stardom. And their time Stateside has been fruitful. Not only did it produce their excellent second album The Healing, which was released a couple of months ago, it has lifted their live performance up a notch or two from its already strong level.

They are a truly international and equal opportunity band now, with an Aussie, a Kiwi and two Americans the band. New skins woman Tosha Jones is a dreadlocked Amazonian percussive Goddess, and her manic attack on her drums was a joy to experience.

The band drew pretty equally from both of their albums, and their forty-minute set whizzed by way too fast. Front woman Crystal Ignite gave a typically fiery performance, and her usual inspirational pep talk to the crowd. She truly is becoming one of the great rock chicks. This was a triumphant homecoming show for this most ambitious and hardworking (former) Aussie band, and they got the capacity throng well and truly pumped for the main act.

Sometimes it’s good to be seeing a band for the first time with minimal pre-conceptions about them, and my knowledge of Halestorm leading into this evening was not much more than zero. Yet another good sign was the uproarious welcome they received as they took the stage for their first ever date in Australia. First impressions of their music was that it was relatively basic modern rock ‘n’ roll, but delivered with an exuberance and entertainment value that was truly infectious.

A fair degree of that entertainment value came from the drummer, whose antics were completely over the top and heaps of fun to watch. His lengthy drum solo towards the end of the set was an absolute scream, very physical and featuring much audience participation. The guy could definitely play too.

Over the course of their set, even that ‘basic rock’ impression began to fade, as they took the crowd into some more interesting places with their sound and performance. These guys, and gal, have certainly got their own take on modern rock. Soaring above it all was the voice and presentation of frontwoman Lizzy Hale. She is one hell of a front person, with a great range in her massive voice and a highly engaging personality.

Halestorm put on a show that is both flashy, gritty and gutsy at the same time. Sounds hard to achieve, but this band pull it off with swaggering self-assurance. I love their approach to ‘encores’ as well, which was basically ‘we don’t leave the stage, then come back on acting all surprised. Fuck encores, let’s just keep playing’.

 

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