are one of the standard bearers for a musical movement which takes the
down-tuned sound and angsty lyrics of grunge, but marries it to a
commercial sensibility with huge radio friendly hooks.
this ilk pack arenas and are mainstays of the festival circuit the other
side of the Atlantic but, Nickelback excepted, have not enjoyed the same
level of success in the UK.
three years after I last saw them at the Islington Academy, these
Florida rockers played before a packed house at the historic Roundhouse
in Chalk Farm, suggesting that they are building a big following here.
£16, a three band bill provided excellent value, although opening act
Liberty Lies made little impact on me. The Black Country rockers have
decent stage craft and were not out of place on the bill, but lacked
Halestorm however hit their audience right between the eyes, chiefly
with the remarkable powerhouse voice of singer Lzzy (sic) Hale, who is
also a decent lead guitarist taking on a large portion of the solos.
her hot pants and thigh high boots doubtless had many a young (and some
not so young) fans down the front thinking they were living through a
likes of 'Its Not You', 'Dirty Work' and 'Familiar Taste of Poison' are
much rougher and heavier than on their polished debut album, with
drummer (and Lzzy’s brother) Arejay a complete loon.
also treated to a trio from their forthcoming sophomore release:
'American Boys' had a riff with a classic seventies feel, but in
contrast the angry-sounding 'Freak Like Me' had almost industrial beats.
40 minutes to impress, the set was rather broken up by some solo vocal
gymnastics from Lzzy, a drum solo with all the band members joining in,
and a faithful but unnecessary cover of 'Slave to the Grind', but debut
album favourite 'I Get Off' ended an eye catching set that had me and
others wanting more.
Shinedown were blessed by a crystal clear sound from my vantage
point high up in the rafters and a well-constructed stage set with a
series of raised platforms for band members to take the spotlight.
began in frantic fashion, with two of the heavier numbers from their
last – and classic- album 'The Sound of Madness', the title track and
'Devour', having a packed moshpit jumping up and down, sandwiched by a
new song, 'Enemies'. On the evidence of that and another new song,
'Adrenalin', it appears the forthcoming album 'Amaryllis' will mark a
return to a darker, more uncompromising sound.
Charismatic singer Brent Smith remains very much the focal point, even
if with his white t-shirt and hair tied back his image had been
drastically de-glammed from when I last saw the band.
act has also in the past been controversial, with some saying he could
not hit the higher notes live, and others finding his effusive
monologues too close to preaching. Just as with Harry Redknapp on the
same day of the show, the verdict was not guilty on either count.
held up superbly, a powerful roar but with a clearer diction than many
singers in this musical style. And yes, he does break up the show a lot
to thank the audience and get them involved, but even to our more
cynical English ears this seems genuine, and one such monologue directly
led to a mass pogo at the start of 'Cyanide Sweet Tooth Suicide' which
presented quite a sight.
the rest of the band tread no new ground, but bassist Eric Bass (!) and
drummer Eric Kerch provide a solid backbone while guitarist Zach Myers
kept things simple but his crisp riffing and melodic solos had a perfect
tone to them, especially on 'Save Me', one of the relatively rare cuts
from their first two albums.
freely admit it was the more commercial songs from their last album that
belatedly converted me to Shinedown, and, of them, 'If You Only Knew'
was excellent, but eclipsed by 'The Crow and the Butterfly' which had a
massive, widescreen sound that you could imagine whole stadiums swaying
to. Rather surprisingly though, the grungey '45' from their debut album,
which encouraged a few crowd surfers, ended with the band leaving the
stage after only 55 minutes.
Fortunately they didn’t skimp on the encores, beginning with new single
'Bully'. Brent then stressed that as a band that listened to their fans,
they were duty bound to reinstate 'Simple Man' which was omitted from
some previous tours.
stripped down, acoustic version of the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic both
embraces the spirit of the original and does something different with
it, as well as showing off Brent’s singing capabilities.
US hit 'Second Chance', a song which proves that modern bands can still
write power ballads to rank with the old eighties classics, had the
whole place singing along, and in contrast old favourite, the Alter
Bridge-esque 'Fly From The Inside', finished the set on a rocking note.
an excellent show which marked a quantum leap forward from my last live
experience of them three years ago.
me, you have been tempted to dismiss Shinedown in the past as another
bunch of faceless American post-grungers, give them a ‘second chance’ as
on this evidence there are few better bands around at the moment with
more than enough appeal to more classic rock tastes.