February 22, 2016 Halestorm Unforgettable At Le Trianon Paris, France 2-13-16 w/ Wilson
Recently nominated by UK based radio station Planet Rock for the Best International Band and Best International Album awards, America’s Halestorm prove their music reaches beyond the seas to capture the tastes of a broader audience. Taking risks, and progressing with their sound, 2015’s Into the Wild Life has achieved chart positions in more countries than the band’s first two studio releases and is on pace to be their best selling album to date. That is why it is no wonder they made sure their working visas were in place as they headed across the Atlantic in early 2016 to play shows throughout the UK and Europe. An exciting way to kick off a new year, Vocalist/Guitarist Lzzy Hale, Drummer Arejay Hale, Guitarist Joe Hottinger, and with Bassist Josh Smith welcomed the return to Europe with open arms.
Kicking off directly following 2016’s UK edition of the Carnival of Madness Tour, Halestorm, with support from Wilson, began the Into The Wild Tour on the 8th of February in The Netherlands. Stopping in Belgium and Germany along the way, on Saturday the 13th, they came to the city of Paris, France to play the historic performance hall, Le Trianon. A hall which was used to welcome the most popular French artists during the beginning of the 20th century, it was also used as an Opera hall that is based in the emblematic and touristic place called Montmartre. It is known for its very nice basilica “Le Sacré Coeur,” its artists such as street portraitists, but also its impersonal shops for tourists. The hall in itself, which can contain capacity of up to 1,000 people, is a very charming combination of old and ostentatious chandeliers and dirty wine-colored chairs located on the two balconies which overlook a fairly sizeable scene. With that all in mind, the bucolic place meet the two punchy Rock-n-Roll bands, Wilson and Halestorm.
Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, Wilson has been making waves in their homeland touring with the likes of Trivium and All That Remains, just to name a few. Signed to New York-based Razor & Tie, a label that includes artists such as HIM and The Pretty Reckless, Wilson put out their acclaimed album Right to Rise in 2015. To be fully honest, the band is not yet very well known in France just yet, but the energetic band was eager to show their performance abilities to an audience always ready to discover a good and sincere Rock band.
A black dog with a “human” expression, standing upright on its four legs was Wilson’s banner artwork dressing the backdrop on the stage. The first thing people saw when entering the hall, to say the least, Wilson was a rabid contrast to the impassive dog drawn on their banner. They were musically biting Parisan’s ears with incisive guitar riffs from the start, opening with a song entitled “Give ‘Em Hell.” The bearded rockers consisting of Vocalist Chad Nicefield, Bassist James Lascu, Drummer Matt Puhy, along with Guitarists Jason Spencer and Kyle Landry, provided the audience with an intensive show, with very few idle moments, as they were rapidly adopted by the public. No one, who lent an attentive ear, could resist their songs “Right to Rise,” “Windows Down,” or “Crave.” Neither similar nor too far away from Halestorm, Wilson was an excellent choice for opening the show, combining the pleasure of the discovery with the one of the listening. Concert goers who wanted great Rock-n-Roll to start the evening definitively had it with Wilson. The band now continues for nine more shows a part from Halestorm in the UK for those interested.
After Wilson’s performance, the time in between was for a beer, the official drink of the evening, but fiercely in competition with wine, remember this is France. Allowing technicians time to prepare for Halestorm’s set, a keyboard was set up in the middle of the stage, giving a hint where the band may go with their first song. Halestorm, who already played in Paris one year earlier, on the 16th of March in 2015 at Le Bataclan, was firmly anticipated by the public and thus had a sold out Le Trianon anxiously awaiting their return.
At around 9 PM, the lights went out, and, very quickly, the musicians arrived beneath the screams of the public for a slow, but catchy intro whose notes announce the song “Bad Girl’s World.” The sound very good, the room already felt that the show will be of the highest quality in many respects. Then came Lzzy, which took possession of the keyboard, singing her first notes on the spacey atmosphere generated by Hottinger’s guitar. From here, the audience was again in for a long journey on the roads of US Rock and Metal. For the second song, Halestorm gave their fans the excellent and efficient track “Love Bites (So do I).” The moment was used as a rationale by the public who was just waiting to begin moshing. The tracks “Apocalyptic” and “Scream” then followed before the passionate “I Am the Fire,” featuring its striking chorus. This gave Lzzy the opportunity to ask people to switch on their phone’s light to create a particular atmosphere. With cell phone lights illumating the room, it was the brighest moment of the set as the band opted for a more intimate setting with subtle stage lighting. Perhaps this was to put the force on what was most important, the band’s energy and talents.
Keeping that energy flowing, Halestorm rocked into cuts such as “I Like It Heavy,” “Sick Individual,” older hit “It’s Not You,” and “Mz. Hyde.” A solid mix of all their music, they had everyone’s attention with hands in the air, bodies moving, and many screaming along. Another highlight of the performance was obviously the cover of the Eagle of Death Metal’s song entitled “I Love You All the Time.” For all musicians from all backgrounds and cultures, Paris has become a special place since the tragic events of November 2015. With one as a musician or as a simple music listener, all were also symbolically attacked. Heartfelt, France’s US brothers in Halestorm offered a tribute in their own way, and, with that, they most likely saw in everyone’s eyes the tragedy which affected, directly or indirectly, each of them. An emotional moment, this came just before the great ballad “Dear Daughter,” which turned into a kind of communion. Here, Lzzy had again sweat words for this tragedy. Sometimes, words appear as one of the best remedies, and during a short moment, it was the case.
Rising spirits high, then came the drum solo from Arejay, an essential phase which sometimes can turn into a long-standing disagreement for listeners who like or dislike the tradition. In this case, Arejay universally impressed and lived up to his reputation of “crazy drummer.” Thundering his drums, he actively involved the public, notably by inviting them singing Metallica’s “Sad But True” and AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell.” At the end of his solo he even took out giant drumsticks making sure the drum solo was overall a friendly moment which avoided certain pitfalls. From this point in the performance, Halestorm’s songs flowed naturally as Lzzy showed everyone, with a dreamlike naturalness, the full extent of her talent including a powerful and remarkable voice with its own personality on songs such as “Mayhem,” “I Get Off,” along with “Freak Like Me.” Some fans, during some of Lzzy’s vocal performances, were even heard questioning how does she succeed in singing so powerfully despite the fatigue induced by a tour and its constraints? As they say in French: Respect Mademoiselle.
After about a one-and-a-half-hour stage performance, the set comes to the end and it started to wind down with the sing along “Here’s To Us.” Obviously, it escaped no-one that the band had not yet played favorite “I Miss The Misery.” Although, Halestorm still reserves this last surprise to end the night event as they randomly picked a woman from the audience to sing next to Lzzy. One last hurrah, the public was in raptures and took the opportunity of this closing song to mosh in a frenzy. It was a way to thank the band for this excellent evening, and at last, a homemade banner was given to them from the crowd, definitively sealing the links with the quartet.
Halestorm proved themselves to be part of those bands which can play a very qualitative, powerful, and professional brand of Rock without sacrificing their music on the altar of authenticity. With three albums released, Halestorm has quickly gained a large audience, even outside its borders, and the energy they delivered, combined with punctual Metal riffs, also allowed the band to capture all types of listeners. Their return to Paris was nothing less than magnificent, and it is safe to say both the band and their fans will not forget the experience. Now they head home to the US where they will rock audiences alongside Lita Ford come April.