9 times out of 10 if you ask a girl what it’s like to be in a rock band you’ll get a punch to the face with the force of a billion angry oppressed females dating back to the caveman era. Last night however, London’s Alexandra Palace made heavy metal history in celebrating all things femme fatale with the much anticipated female-fronted triple headline tour consisting of Halestorm, In This Moment, and New Years Day on the final night of their UK tour.
The stage was host to alternative metal opener’s New Years Day, their lead vocalist Ash Costello leading the charge with guitarists Nikki Misery and Austin Ingerman, bassist Frankie Sil, and touring drummer Longineu Parsons III at her flanks. With a generous sprinkle of crowd participation, Costello’s Harley Quinn inspired appearance matched the characters cheekiness too, leaving both male and female audience members blushing. The bands short 8-song set was enough to give the crowd a taste and leave them wanting more, bashing out a satisfying mix of new tracks ‘Come for Me’ and ‘Skeletons,’ and early favourites ‘Kill or be Killed,’ ‘Epidemic’ and ‘Defame Me.’ Wedged into the set list was a tribute to Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul, with a Pantera cover of ‘Fucking Hostile.’
Behind a spooky graveyard themed sheet, gothic cult metal band In This Moment’s haunted castle themed stage set was prepared, complete with candelabras and spiked gates. As the sheet came down, a cloaked vocalist Maria Brink was revealed on a pedestal amidst her Blood Girls, as guitarists Chris Howarth and Randy Weitzel, bassist Travis Johnson and drummer Kent Diimmel thrashed into ‘River of Fire,’ war paint already sweating down their zombified faces. Although the bands set list was also 8 tracks long, the set time was doubled by intermediate costume changes, making In This Moment’s theatrical performance a visual and artistic must-see for any metal or horror fan. The set list was doused in cult classics from ‘Adrenalize’ to ‘Big Bad Wolf’ to ‘Blood,’ with a touching unreleased upcoming track ‘Legacy.’ It wouldn’t be a female-empowerment tour without the hurt, pain, and suffering that ended up being the catalyst for the angrily powerful and motivational music from In This Moment, ending on the bands anti-shaming anthem ‘Whore.’
The main event however, was guitarist Joe Hottinger, bassist Josh Smith, and drummer Arejay Hale that made up ¾ of the stripped back hard rock quartet, Halestorm. With In This Moment’s set and props out of the way, the stage doubled in size, leaving lead vocalist’s Lzzy Hale’s intoxicating voice to penetrate and fill every available nook and cranny in the venue. Kicking off with the drippingly seductive ‘Do Not Disturb,’ it was clear that the larger venues on their biggest headline tour to date suited them well, with the Halestorm logo lit up against the back marking their territory and claiming their newfound turf. Shredding through the audacious tracks ‘Love Bites (So Do I,)’ ‘Mz Hyde,’ and ‘I Get Off,’ the night belonged to anthemic and tribal empowering songs ‘Freak Like Me,’ ‘Amen,’ ‘I Am the Fire,’ and ‘Here’s to Us.’ The encore consisted of a darkened stage with nothing but her piano, a spot light, her latex get-up and voice, as Lzzy treated the crowd to a medley of soul-stirring love letters to herself with ‘Rock Show,’ ‘White Dress,’ ‘Dear Daughter,’ and a breath-taking rendition of Whitney Houston’s version of ‘I Will Always Love You.’
The night proved that heavy metal is all-inclusive, a dysfunctional family made up of half-heads, blood legions and freaks, male and female alike. ‘Female-fronted’ is no longer a term to be shunned and dreaded, but a statement to wear across your chest and embraced, a mark of dedication and determination.