Halestorm at The Fillmore in Detroit, MI

Halestorm fire up frenzied fans on the Vicious tour with support from In This Moment and New Years Day.

The fans have lined early on this frigid night in Detroit for an evening of great rock and metal.  You know it’s going to be something special when they endure the cold with some dressed more like it’s spring.  And something special is exactly what they are expecting to see and hear from several of the best voices in rock and metal today, who just happen to all be female.

New Years Day, led by vocalist Ash Costello gets the evening off to a wild start.  She wastes no time firing up the fans as she takes to the platform front and center and leads the band into “Kill or Be Killed.”  They follow that up with a killer cover of Pantera’s “Fucking Hostile”, that has the crowd going crazy.  Ash is constantly moving from side to side, thrashing her red and black hair around, and engaging the fans.  The rest of the band is just as active, with guitarists Nikki Misery and Austin Ingerman and bassist Frankie Sil regularly swapping spots on either side of the stage, as well as jamming together.  And the early packed house responds with loud cheers throughout their set.  When she asks how many have seen them before, it is quite a large number.  Having toured with In This Moment earlier this year surely helped expand their fan base, and this tour should be no different.

After a lengthy break to set up the stage, the lights dim and Queen’s “We Will Rock You” starts playing with the audience singing along.  That segues into Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” that really gets the fans singing loudly.   Many in the audience are here to see In This Moment just as much as they are Halestorm, with quite a few women dressed as lead singer Maria Brink.  The stage is blocked by a large black widow curtain.  As the music transitions and Maria takes the stage, the fans erupt and the curtain drops.  They kick off their set with “Blood” and follow that with “River of Fire”.

An In This Moment concert is as much about the music as it is the spectacle of the stage show.  The stage tonight is darkly lit, with a multi-tiered platform in the middle, a platform on the left for guitarist Chris Howorth, and a platform on the right for drummer Kent Diimmel.  Smaller platforms are up front on either side for bassist Travis Johnson and other guitarist Randy Weitzel.  The stage is regularly filled with fog helped along by fans, with CO2 cannons shooting into the air.  During the song “Adrenalize,” Maria walks to the front of the stage and picks up a handheld CO2 cannon that she uses to shoot over the crowd from side to side.  

Maria Brink is clearly the focal point though.  She dons elaborate costumes throughout the set that add to the vibe of the current song and is joined on several songs by two other girls in costumes.  Maria is an awesome performer and when she lets out her screams, she sends chills through your body.  Many in the crowd could be heard talking about how great she is, as well as the band.  And this was coming from some who were seeing them for the first time. 

Speaking of the band, they get to show off for a bit running through several metal songs that are very familiar to many from the likes of Metallica.  Kent Diimmel destroys the drums with his powerful playing, and Randy Weitzel and Travis Johnson tear it up while also striking poses for the fans.

A cool part of their set is their cover of Phil Collin’s “In the Air Tonight.”  It is not too far from the original but has that In This Moment twist along with Maria’s vocal delivery and screams.  They follow that up with “Oh Lord” from their current release that has Maria and the other girls holding glowing orbs.  Following that, Maria asks the audience what they want to hear.  They respond with “Whore”.  This song has Maria wearing the familiar Whore cap while addressing the crowd from behind a podium while large red and white balloons fill the air on the floor section.  As usual, it’s a highly entertaining set by In This Moment.

After another break to dismantle In This Moment’s stage setup, the crowd is getting antsy waiting for headliners Halestorm.  When they take the stage, the crowd goes wild.  Lzzy Hale is quite the sight with her short black hair, all black outfit, and platform shoes.  They get things off on a high note with one of their most popular hits from a few years back, “Freak Like Me.”  It immediately has the fans whipped into a frenzy and singing along.  They follow that up with “Uncomfortable” that has been getting plenty of airplay, along with an older fan favorite “It’s Not You.”  “Uncomfortable” and  “Black Vultures,” both taken from their latest release Vicious.

Unlike In This Moment, the stage setup for Halestorm is stripped down with just drummer Arejay on a platform in the back center.  The lighting and sound are the best we’ve experienced in quite some time.  Vivid combinations of colors like green and purple, yellow and red, etc. are used, but are brightly lit, unlike many bands that lately have been using dark, dimly lit stages.  And the sound is tight with a solid lower end, crisp guitar and vocals with a great mix across them.

They really rev things up with the blazing “Love Bites (So Do I)” that has Lzzy showing off her vocal range and Arejay laying down the rapid-fire beat.  “Amen” allows them a little time to slow things down as Lzzy leads the crowd with singing along.  It also showcases Lzzy and Joe’s guitar skills as they jam out together.

Their set tonight has songs from across all their albums but is slanted towards the latest album with almost half the set coming from it including the title track, “Killing Ourselves to Live”, and “The Silence”.  The latter features Lzzy and Joe sitting at the front of the stage with Joe on acoustic guitar.  Lzzy shows why she is one of the greatest female rock singers of all time as she belts it out with heartfelt conviction and emotion.

Arejay gets the opportunity to lead the fun with a drum solo.  Sporting what looks like a tropical-themed leisure suit, he pounds out some rapid beats.  Then he mentions he has some props tonight as he proceeds to pull out a set of massively oversized sticks that draws cheers and some laughs from the audience.  How he manages to play with them is amazing.

A major highlight of the evening is “I Miss the Misery.”  While already being extremely popular with fans, they jazz it up tonight with a lengthy rendition.  Starting off with cool green and purple lighting that transitions into red and white, they also utilize strobes throughout the song.  And the band extends the song for what seems like at least 10 minutes with some major shredding by Lzzy and Joe.  Lzzy also leads the crazed fans with fist pumps in the air.  Many cell phones are in the air capturing all the action for memories.

They close out their set with “Here’s to Us” where they bring out a bunch of friends including members of New Years Day and In This Moment.   This song once again has the whole venue singing along.  It’s a great ending to an amazing and fun evening of rock and metal.

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About Gary Pahlow 23 Articles
Gary is located in Rochester Hills, MI and has been officially photographing and writing concert reviews since early 2016. His main music interests are metal and hard rock, but he is also a fan of most genres including alternative, indie, jazz, and even some pop and country. When not covering or attending concerts, you can find him traveling with his wife or watching the Detroit Red Wings.

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