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OOZING with serious attitude, 12th March saw American hard rockers HALESTORM tearing up Southampton’s O2 Guildhall with fierce vocals from front-woman Lzzy Hale, foot-stomping beats and a whole lot of energy. Currently promoting their upcoming album, Into The Wild Life, HALESTORM have been touring the UK with fellow Americans NOTHING MORE and WILSON.

Upon arriving at the venue, fans were directed by staff to join different lines, depending on whether they had O2 priority tickets, standard tickets or down on the guest-list. With three lines stretching across the Guildhall Square, it’s surprising that the gig was not a sold-out show.

Opening a night of spunk, WILSON were first up exuding plenty of energy but as the first to start, the support band failed to capture fans attention until they performed their cover of AC/DC’s classic ‘Back in Black’. With a few people among the crowd nodding their heads, it was clear that the majority were not really sure what to make of them.

However, props have to be given for the amount of enthusiasm the lead vocalist displayed. His wild interaction of jumping off the stage, standing on the barrier and reaching over the crowd with his microphone in turn encouraged the crowd to participate and chant back to him.

Next up was Texan alternative rock quartet NOTHING MORE who certainly brought forth a fresh twist of music. Incorporating industrialized sound with the occasional Apocalyptica-esque instrumentals left for an organic impression. The stage presence of vocalist Jonny Hawkins also added to the bands raw ambience, by performing bare foot and shirtless throughout their set.

Needless to say, WILSON and NOTHING MORE were a strange pairing to support headlining act HALESTORM with contrasting musical styles within the rock genre. The UK tour would have done well to include supports from the likes of The Pretty Reckless (whom the band will be touring North America with next month) and Shinedown (who headlined at the O2 Guildhall during 2012).

To say that it wasn’t a sold-out show, the entire balcony was filled with people wanting to get a better view of the live performance. For those who stood, it was a whole other experience as the space allowed for the crowd to get more involved with the music. As HALESTORM sung “at the rock show you’ll be right in the front row; heart and soul they both know, it’s where we gotta be” from their song ‘Rock Show’, front-row fans were pushed up against the barrier with enthusiasm.

Seen as one of hard rock’s hottest chicks, on the night it was apparent that Lzzy Hale wasn’t sporting a bra throughout HALESTORM’s performance, making her more appealing to their male fans. Regardless of this, the show wasn’t all about her. Stealing the limelight, brother and drummer Arejay Hale injected humour by treating the crowd to an awesome solo, performed using baseball bats shaped as drumsticks. The fiery redheaded drummer could have been mistaken for the beloved puppet nutcase Animal, displaying an immense amount of stamina during solos.

By including debuting track ‘Apocalyptic’ from their upcoming album in addition to other new songs Amen and Mayhem has arguably rallied fans for the highly anticipated third instalment.

The powerful set-list also featured fan favourites such as ‘Daughters of Darkness’ (from their first self-titled release) and 2013’s Grammy-winning ‘Love Bites (So Do I)’.

Also known for their fair share of cover songs such as Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’, AC/DC’s ‘Shoot to Thrill’ and ‘Straight Through the Heart’ by Dio, HALESTORM pulled back from a thunderous performance and supplied a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ballad ‘Gold Dust Woman’.

Despite the front-woman’s struggle to hold vocals at times due to throat issues, Lzzy managed to cut through the big fist-pumping choruses, but at intervals depended on crowd participation which was more noticeable throughout ‘I Get Off’. This didn’t seem to bother fans as she threw the mic open, encouraging them to sing along which made for a chorus louder than Hell!

Check out an interview with the Josh Smith here: http://goo.gl/lKZKws

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