28th September 2018

It’s not very often that the DiR crew choose to forego a pint in a pub to head in almost for doors opening, tonight was that night. What we were greeted with was a queue that stretched round the building and back out onto the high street! 15 minutes later an already fairly busy Brixton Academy were enjoying REWS. We caught this all girl duo’s last song which was energetic with clangy noise rock guitars backed by overly cymbal focused drumming. Not bad, but not much to judge.

It’s rare a support get ideas above their Station, but Avatar thought, acted and played like they were tonight’s Headline act! But nobody could blame them as they brought in a huge crowd and full stage setup and even their own lighting rig. Avatar are a heavy neo-classical prog metal troupe who are hard to ignore. Their eccentric flamboyance and overt creepiness were enough to draw attention in their own. It was so over the top that somehow it was fun, rather than haunting.

Avatar (From afar…)

Their well heeled, waist-coated roadies were clearly off shift from the Grand Budapest Hotel. The band’s classical (circus?) themed outfits and make-up gave an air of regal showmanship. Musically they love a good heavy headbanging riff whilst they synchronised hair windmills flailing their long Scandinavian locks. Skipping effortlessly from thunder chugs to intricate picking, harmonious dueling power metal melodies to country hoedowns…it was always entertaining.

Their ringleader complete with conducting baton, owned the stage in a freaky you dare look anywhere else manner. He delivered yelps, monologues, guttural screams and super high cleans with ease. Certainly he’d be the guy in real life that people went out of their way to avoid. Their closing track and dedicated to all the ‘Freaks’ pretty much sums up this unconventional but assured band. Totally engrossing, fun, unmissable and unsettling all at the same time!

Halestorm

With the Halestorm banners now raised they were here to banish thoughts that their support has  upstaged them. Lzzy Hale bounded onstage with her brand of no nonsense hard rockers in tow and immediately gave us a taste of her incredible raspy power vocals. The sheer scale and pitch of these howls is incredible and forms the cornerstone of their sound. However she wasn’t the only hale on stage who wanted attention. Little brother Arejay on drum duty was immensely watchable and entertaining, twirling, leaping and speedy sticksmanship. His drum solo and now customary “big stick” trick is really something special.

Their set was made up primarily from latest album Vicious which isn’t a bad LP, but this always leaves longer term fans wanting a few more classic cuts. Those from the past were (for me) to obvious highlights with oh-oh’ing “I Miss the Misery“, rollicking rockers “Mz Hyde” and “Love Bites (So Do I)” plus set closing full hearted ballad “Here’s To Us“.

As a hard rock band dressed in black they certainly didn’t provide the visual spectacle of Avatar, but they certainly out-performed them in terms of the music with fantastic melodies, vigor, energy and above all else, epic rock anthems!