HALESTORM / AVATAR / REWS - Glasgow O2 Academy 23.09.18

Arriving early at the Glasgow O2 Academy to make sure we catch the first support band, we are greeted by an unusual site - a queue snaking around the venue and across adjacent streets into the distance. This is unusual but understandable as Halestorm have rolled into town and brought two first-class support acts with them and nobody wants to miss a thing.

 

Arriving early in the day to interview HALESTORM’s Josh Smith, the Academy stage looked impressive without the crowd filling its every corner. Climbing back stairs to a dark corner, we spoke to Smith who was tired after arriving in the UK and was still trying to adjust his body clock. A humble, almost quiet man, he spoke of the excitement at touring again and the motivation the band maintains to ensure every show is a winner. You can watch the interview with Josh here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u23Dm7FHOCc  but what about the show I hear you ask!

 

First up is the up-and-coming two-piece REWS. The duo features Shauna Tohill on guitar/vocals and Collette Williams on drums/vocals. Their upbeat rock is uplifting, energetic and original with beautiful vocal delivery and layers of melody that bands with four members struggle to deliver.

 

REWS are at a relatively early part of their journey, but their achievements have been many and the addition to this tour is perfectly timed with the release of their recent single ‘Can You Feel It’ and tonight the Glasgow crowd certainly can. I can’t recall a support act playing to such a full house in as many years and that is a testament to the duo’s fresh profile and obvious appeal to this knowledgeable city.

 

There have been many positive reviews of REWS in the last two years and I can see why. Their appeal is broad and radio-friendly whilst holding a rough edge to ensure they hold a more legal crowd as they did tonight. There is an honesty to Tohill and Williams who left the stage to a well-earned response and mingled with the audience for a while and did what all good supports should - watched the other bands. I’d recommend you look out for them on the road before the music machine lifts them to a loftier position where they will be less accessible.

 

Check them out here -

https://www.facebook.com/wearerewsmusic/

https://twitter.com/rewsmusic

https://www.rewsmusic.com/

 

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AVATAR must surely be one of the most theatrical band gracing global stages these days. With a visual performance that Alice Cooper would stare open-mouthed at, they achieve true showmanship without the need for props or dramatic stage sets. In fact, the mere presence of singer Johannes Michael Gustaf Eckerström is enough to demand attention.

 

With the band’s name slung low above the drums, drummer John Alfredsson slowly walks on stage before making his way behind his brightly painted kit. Guitarists Kungen and Tim Öhrström smartly walk on stage to join him and begin the sonic scythe to the neck before Eckerström marches into the limelight. There is no bass player with the band tonight with backing tracks used to provide the low-end grunt. This could easily be missed, however, given the tight and powerful delivery.

 

Tracks such as ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ couldn’t be further from the Saxon track of the same name with a quirky opening melody that adds to the circus that the stage has become. Ringmaster Eckerström spends time speaking to the crowd in an altogether creepy fashion that demands and receives a huge response from the full house.

 

The delivery of the band is brutal at times and the choreographed headbanging at the front of the stage is awesome between vocals that drift from scream to carefully sung lines. ‘The King Welcomes You To Avatar Country’ takes an altogether different approach with a dark humour and a signature opening guitar riff that is deliberately out of tune and jarring. Pure West End in its delivery - this is a stand out track that highlights the band’s sense of the ridiculous.

 

As AVATAR draw their set to a close, I am convinced that this is a band I need to see again to witness their full splendour as a headline act. Tremendous.

 

They can be found in all their weird splendour here –

https://www.facebook.com/avatarmetal/

http://avatarmetal.com/

https://twitter.com/avatarmetal

https://www.instagram.com/avatarmetal/

 

PHOTOS ARE NOT TO BE USED WITHOUT THE PRIOR CONSENT OF DOWN THE FRONT MEDIA. PLEASE DIRECT ALL MEDIA ENQUIRIES TO LINDSAY@DOWNTHEFRONTMEDIA.COM 

The headline act HALESTORM really need no introduction such is their position in the modern music hierarchy. With a Grammy on their mantle, four outstanding albums and a recent 21st birthday, they are at their most powerful and the next achievement is hard to figure. Bassist Smith acknowledges this in our conversation and admits the band are just happy to improve their musical ability and consistently perform well to keep their fanatical fan base keen and committed.

 

As the band launch onto the stage, singer and guitarist Lzzy Hale has prepared for the winter with her crimson fur coat which she had chosen after asking her fans what she should wear via Twitter earlier in the day. For fear of writing like a royal correspondent, she does command attention regardless of her outfit.

 

Opening track ‘Vicious’, the title track from the new album is an onslaught with little held back for the rest of the set. Hale’s vocals are as strong as ever and it is questionable whether she needs a microphone at all. Hottinger’s guitar work is both powerful and tasteful with occasional blues licks blended with choppy power chords. The percussion of Hale’s brother Arejay is crisp and thunderous - slightly at odds with his colourful beachwear outfit.

 

The band have dipped into their earlier catalogue with tracks ‘I Am The Fire’ and ‘Mz Hyde’- both classics in their own right. The consistency of material across the four albums must make the choice of tracks in a live set particularly difficult. The addition of one such new track ‘Golden’ is introduced as being included in the vinyl releases of the new album.

 

The power of the show is dialled down for new track ‘The Silence’ where Hale and Hottinger taking a seat on a flight case at the front of the stage. This change of focus is subtle but still visually impressive as the pair virtually play to the front row and feel part of the crowd. This works well in contrasting the set and its position later in the show ensures the closing tracks are all the more impactive.

 

The band’s most popular track ‘Miss The Misery’ is left to the encore and is delivered with the power of a Pennsylvania tornado. The track is a crescendo to the night but those who know the band wait for the final track ‘Here’s To Us’ - a song that bonds the crowd and ensures there is a warmth in the room before the punters head into the cool Glasgow air.

 

Mancini’s Pink Panther theme is piped through the PA as the house lights are turned on. As I make my way through those discussing the show, fans rushing for the last train and a few optimistic trophy hunters searching for picks thrown by the band, one thought strikes me - will we see HALESTORM in this size of venue again?

Probably not.

 

See for yourself here –

https://twitter.com/Halestorm

https://www.facebook.com/halestormrocks/

https://www.instagram.com/halestormrocks/

http://www.halestormrocks.com/

 

PHOTOS ARE NOT TO BE USED WITHOUT THE PRIOR CONSENT OF DOWN THE FRONT MEDIA. PLEASE DIRECT ALL MEDIA ENQUIRIES TO LINDSAY@DOWNTHEFRONTMEDIA.COM

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