LIVE REVIEW: Halestorm & Devilskin @ Corner Hotel, Melbourne – January 2017

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I thought that Halestorm were a well-known rock band, but they were playing at the rather small Corner Hotel in Richmond. Are they relatively small in Australia or is this just indicative of the diminishing audiences of moderately known rock bands? Either way, it was good for the fans, because rock acts feel right at home in intimate venues, and everyone gets a closer and better look.

Opening for Halestorm was Devilskin, a New Zealand hard rock/metal act, who just finished a tour in their homeland where Halestorm were the ones supporting them. It’s a great pairing; both are fronted by awe-inspiring rock chicks and I honestly can’t decide which performance I liked better.

Wasn’t expecting much from Devilskin; I didn’t know who they were until I watched a
music video or two on YouTube earlier that day and thought “pretty good”. I’m very glad I rocked up early enough to see their performance because I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed myself.

Devilskin singer Jennie Skulander seemed nervous during the first song, and the crowd seemed a little sceptical, as they can be with support acts they are not familiar with. It soon became apparent that as both the band and audience warmed up to each other that the song performances stepped up, and the punters cheered louder and louder. The third song in the set, which I believe was “Elvis Presley Circle Pit”, was the highlight of the entire night, featuring heavy metal riffs that sounded gnarly in the small venue.

Devilskin sounded heavier and just plain better live, and they floored me despite not knowing any of their songs. They will probably become my new favourite band, and they remind me of Melbourne’s own Heaven the Axe.

Opening the Halestorm set was frontwoman Lzzy Hale with a piano number and her amazing voice. She then went straight into the “Apocalyptic” from the latest album Into the Wild Life.

Before this show I had mainly listened to the band’s singles from that album, and the performances of those songs such as “Amen”, “I Am the Fire” and especially “Mayhem” were more emotional, heavy and energetic live. Halestorm are much more exciting in my opinion when they play aggressive hard rock rather than softer alternative rock tunes.

This band is one of the hardest touring today, playing more than a 100 shows most years. That frequent practise shows, as the band, especially Lzzy, know how to work a crowd and Lzzy never missed a note. She only stopped singing to give the crowd a go on fan favourite songs like “Love Bites (But So Do I)”. She did another piano song with the raw and emotional “Dear Daughter”, a song about her hypothetical future daughter following her dreams.

Lzzy’s little brother Ajay showed off his skills with a lengthy drum solo (probably a bit too lengthy, considering the entire set wasn’t that long). He was mic’d up so he could work up the crowd, and did sang along with them verses of classic songs such as “Rock n Roll All Night”, “Paradise City” and “Highway to Hell”, and brought out massive drum sticks (“BIG STICKS BIG STICKS” yelled the crowd). A drum solo is always a good way to break up the set.

Lzzy Hale ended the show by announcing there would be no encore and proceeded to play a couple more songs, finishing with “Miss the Misery”

Halestorm fans would have not been disappointed, while newcomers enjoyed a really great rock gig. Devilskin nearly one-upped Halestorm!

Words by Stefan Bradley.