Halestorm & Lita Ford Light Up At Freedom Hall Johnson City, TN 4-21-16 w/ Dorothy

halestorm lita ford slide edited 1 - Halestorm & Lita Ford Light Up At Freedom Hall Johnson City, TN 4-21-16 w/ Dorothy

Halestorm & Lita Ford Light Up At Freedom Hall Johnson City, TN 4-21-16 w/ Dorothy

Original Guns N’ Roses Bassist Duff McKagan recently stated in a Galore Magazine interview why he feels girls are the future of Rock-n-Roll. A truthful statement, women have always been an intricate part of Rock-n-Roll from the days of Janis Joplin, to the impact of bands like Heart and The Runaways, to present times with the rise of Halestorm. Led by the powerful and unmistakable vocals of Ms. Lzzy Hale, Halestorm has risen to Rock super stardom following the release of three impressive studio albums, including 2012’s The Strange Case Of… which featured a Grammy winning track, and more recently, 2015’s Into the Wild Life. Unwilling to compromise their artistic integrity just to sell records, Halestorm made a bold statement with Into the Wild Life that they were ready to take things to the next level as songwriters. Sometimes such a risk can result in commercial failure, just look at the initial reaction to The Beach Boys’ 1966 now all-time classic Pet Sounds. Thankfully for Lzzy, Arejay Hale (drums), Joe Hottinger (guitar), and Josh Smith (bass), Into the Wild Life has been a hot ticket since its debut last April.

Continuing to support the record, Halestorm return to North America after a European run, this time teaming up with legendary Runaway herself Lita Ford along with up and coming band Dorothy. Fitting to see veteran female rocker Ford team up with Halestorm, and future powerhouse Dorothy, the tour could be called Women of Rock. With that said, the exciting lineup kicked things off on April 1st and has shows running through the end of April. Wowing audiences everywhere, they visited on Thursday, April 21st, as they rolled into Johnson City, Tennessee for an historic evening at Freedom Hall.

Up first was the four-piece Rock band going by the name Dorothy. Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Dorothy has captivated audiences from all across the country since releasing their self-titled EP in 2014. In early 2013, Vocalist Dorothy Martin had dreams of starting a band. Little did she know that merely a year later, the quartet featuring Greg Cash on bass, Zac Morris on drums, and DJ Black on guitar would release their first single, “After Midnight.”

Taking the stage as the opening act, the audience was astounded at what Dorothy had to offer. As soon as the opening song “Kiss It’’ kicked the night off into gear, the crowd knew that Martin had more than just sex appeal; she and her bandmates had raw talent.  They meant serious business and as soon as the first song of the night ended, the fans knew this to be true.  Moving along, their third single “Wicked Ones” received a lively response out of audience as well as they rocked hard and passionately. Making the most of their spot on stage, Martin exclaimed, “Tennessee, you’re fucking crazy!” as the fiery four plunged into the final song of their set leaving Johnson City six feet under with a loud “Bang Bang.” Those who missed Dorothy on this run will have a chance to seem them as they tour throughout the summer.

Up on deck, the lovely Rock-n-Roll queen herself, Lita Ford took the stage with a vengeance. After learning how to shred the guitar at eleven years old, she commenced to touring with The Runaways at age sixteen. Ever since then, her charismatic presence has been gracing the Rock and Metal world. Now supporting her 2016 memoir, Living Like a Runaway, Ford also recently released a new album entitled Time Capsule. An unexpected treat to fans, Time Capsule offers fans a slew of tracks never envisioned to see the light of day, solidifying Ford’s legacy as one of Rock’s most important women.

Having everyone excited for her performance, fans of Johnson City were given far more than it bargained for as “Gotta Let It Go” exploded into the night followed by 1991’s “Larger Than Life.” Ford then extended her gratitude and thanked the iconic Singer-Songwriter Elton John for giving her the right to cover “The Bitch is Back” as she rocked the rendition with conviction. Everyone eagerly cheered as they sang along to every lyric that the influential Metal mistress piped out. Following the flawless cover would be a tribute to recently passed superstar Lemmy Kilmister, frontman of renowned Heavy Metal band Motörhead. It would become a moment that would tear up the eyes of fans as Ford and her crew ripped into “Can’t Catch Me.” The chill bumps accrued on the arms of everyone as they extended their horns high in the air would have left Lemmy with a smile of satisfaction if he were able to be in presence for his memorandum.

Moving on smoothly, Ford then introduced legendary Drummer Bobby Rock as he tore into a four-and a half-minute extraordinary drum solo. As each stick struck the kit, the hype built as Rock kept hammering away on his drum set, which was only held together by chains and shook vigorously with every thrash. After fans were left blown away by Rock’s expertise, Ford shouted out, “We have some kick-ass ladies here tonight,” while Dorothy Martin and Lzzy Hale (Vocalist of Halestorm), marched onto the stage. The fierce trio then made history as they broke out into “Cherry Bomb,” one of The Runaways’ most popular tracks. All eyes were fixated on the powerful ladies of Rock; meanwhile the crowd seemed overwhelmed at the amount of artistry on the stage at once.  When the tune came to its conclusion Dorothy and Lzzy departed the stage to a ruckus response.

Having the room completely enthralled, Ford said with a smile, “Crank up the treble. I need a little more high-end. I’m not high enough.” This is when Ford and her band concluded the jaw dropping set with a solidly played “Kiss Me Deadly.” The appeased mass was utterly astounded by Lita Ford’s performance and awaited Halestorm. Ford fans can still find her on tour through the summer for festival and headlining gigs, so keep a look out.

As the finale for the evening, the lights dimmed and the name Halestorm shined bright on the backdrop at Freedom Hall. Originating from Red Lion, Pennsylvania, the Grammy Award winning Rock band took stage as the crowd started an uproar. Wasting no time, they immediately kicked into “Mz. Hyde,” a song written in reflection of Lzzy’s life both on and off stage from their second album, The Strange Case Of… Going right for the heart, “Apocalyptic” and the award winning “Love Bites (So Do I)” devoured the screaming fans as Lzzy struck off the next tune by softly singing the first few lines of ‘’Love Hurts” by Nazareth. Playful and with a raw attitude, Lzzy seductively then said, “Fuck that! I get off on you…” before going into early radio hit “I Get Off.” A welcomed offering, the fun did not stop there as Lzzy and company rattled out the party ignited “Freak Like Me” that led the audience into a genuine address from the Rock goddess.

Giving everyone a moment to catch their breath after the steamrolling start, Lzzy spoke casual to the room saying, “Alright so, we are Halestorm. Welcome to the family. My name is Lzzy and we are going to be singing together all night. I want to hear your voices. Say yeah…say hell yeah!” The crowd responded with an immense “HELL YEAH” when the quadruple threat insisted as the melody of “Scream” took over. From here there was a steady dosage of Into the Wild Life highlight cuts such as the powerful “I Am The Fire,” unapologetic “Sick Individual,” and chilling “I Like It Heavy.” A intense Rock-n-Roll punch to the gut led to an honored introduction of “The crazy man on the drums is my little brother, Arejay.” Thereafter, Lzzy let it be known that music runs through her blood before the end of yet another Into the Wild Life offering, “Jump The Gun.”

Suddenly, a ravishing white piano appeared on stage, leaving the audience wondering what could be coming next. With that, Lzzy said, “We’ve been Halestorm for eighteen years. When I wanted to learn guitar and play in a band when I was sixteen, my parents supported me. My father is actually in the crowd.” She went on to say, “If I had a daughter, would I let her do anything she wanted to? Yes, because of my parents example. We are living proof that you can do anything you want to do.” A telling statement, the alluring piano keyed off into a tear-jerking performance of “Dear Daughter” while Lzzy’s beloved Gibson guitar was still strapped to her side. Tears flowed down the faces of the fans as one could feel the appreciation of her parents’ support in her voice, even until the final note was struck.

Showing this was a family affair, Arejay conducted an intense drum solo, which included him standing on top of the set shouting,“I love you Johnson City!” into his microphone. Then, abruptly, he disappeared off stage momentarily before walking back on with multi-tenor tom drum. From here, Arejay led the crowd into a three-man drum solo which included Zac Morris of Dorothy and Bobby Rock who delighted everyone simultaneously from behind Arejey’s kit as he took command of the Halestorm army. The fans were awestruck at what happened right before their eyes as if they have never seen such a sight, and honestly, they probably never have.

After such an exhilarating spotlight of drumming, Lzzy soon returned to the stage for a rattling performance of “Mayhem” before a earth-shattering cover of Heart’s “All I Want To Do Is Make Love To You.” Sending shivers down everyone’s spines, thereafter, with a red solo cup in hand and a huge grin, Lzzy said, “Cheers to Dorothy and Lita.” Halestorm flowed right into “Here’s To Us” and what seemed to be the closing of the night with “I Miss The Misery.” Then, to everyone’s surprise, the band escorted the mass into a breathtaking cover of  the late Prince classic, “Purple Rain.” A rather emotional moment for all, seeing the Pop icon had passed away suddenly at the age of fifty-seven earlier that day, tears were flowing once more as Hottinger and Smith complimented the cover to perfection, concluding the night with a quintessential presentation of what it means to live one’s dreams.

All in all, the evening with Halestorm, Lita Ford, and Dorothy not only proved that women are the future of Rock-n-Roll, but they are the soul of it as well. A celebration of the past, present, and future, this lineup was nothing less than spectacular. With the run concluding as of April 30th, hopes are that an extension or second leg will be announced later in 2016, because in enough words, it is truly epic.

 

 

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Heather McKee
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Heather McKee is a small town girl with big dreams and an undeniable love for music based out of Johnson City, Tennessee. During the day, she works as a manager at an animal hospital. She has always been passionate for music, photography, and animals. Several months ago she was given the opportunity to do some concert photography work for a local radio station, Z-Rock 99.3 She took it, immediately fell in love with it, and continues to strive to better artistic abilities at every show.

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