SAN DIEGO, CA- The power and the poetry that is the female voice was heard in San Diego as Evanescence, Halestorm and Plush made a tour stop at SDSU’s Viejas Arena. It was a night of maximum Rock and Roll to be sure and anyone who was there felt it. I arrived early, as I usually do. I’ve been excited about this show since it was announced and bought tickets shortly after they went on sale. I was going to this show before I knew I was going to be allowed to cover it.
This was literally my first experience with the opening band, Plush. I have to say what an incredible first impression they made. So much so that I went and bought their debut album so I could experience more than the 3 songs I was visually able to witness. Though don’t have knowledge of the definitive setlist, I’m pretty certain their set included their two singles, “Hate and “Athena” as well as a rousing rendition of Heart’s Barracuda.
The band is “composed of four talented women, under the age of 21, whose accomplishments and talent eclipse their age.” Fronted by singer, songwriter, and guitarist Moriah Formica, and rounded out by Drummer Brooke Colucci, guitarist Bella Perron, and bassist Ashley Suppa.
Their mission statement on their homepage reads: “PLUSH is an all-female rock band with a mission to bring rock back to the forefront of the music industry.” I believe that with the sound and vision of their live set and the intensity of their album, the future of hard rock rests safely in their very capable hands. These ladies are going places for sho.
Their debut album, “PLUSH” is available on all streaming platforms and can be purchased at online retailers. They continue this leg of the Evanescence/Halestorm tour through November 21, 2021. They will be on the road with Slash in February and March of 2022.
Halestorm is a band I’ve seen a lot in the last 11 years or so. The first song I heard from them was Love/Hate Heartbreak as Itunes used to offer free discovery videos. I downloaded it and played it occasionally as it crossed my playlist. It was a solid song. Their cover of Skid Row’s “Slave to The Grind” caught my interest again as I’ve never heard anyone who could match Sebastian Bach’s grit and growl, as well as Lzzy Hale, does. But, My true fandom hit when I heard “Love Bites (But so Do I) and Familiar Taste of Poison.”
With the 7 or 8 times I’ve seen them live, I can honestly say, they get better every time I see them. Lzzy Hale’s voice is strong and confident, raw yet delicate at the same time.
They opened their set with “Back From the Dead” the latest single they released in August of this year. What followed was a blistering set of songs mostly from the first two albums. The aforementioned “Love Bites” and “I Get Off”, “Black Vultures,” “I am The Fire.”
At this point, Lzzy sits at her white grand piano and begins to play and is soon joined on stage by Amy Lee for a duet on “Break-In.” The blending of their voices is beautiful and enchanting. I love seeing bands on tour together that support each other this way. The boys of the band return to the stage for “Amen” from the Into the Wild Life album.
Drummer Arejay Hale takes the spotlight for his ever-present drum solo. Let me just say, that it is and has always been a highlight of every Halestorm set I’ve seen. He is masterful and wildly entertaining on his drums.
Joe, Lzzy, and Josh come back out and they closed their 11 song set with “Freak Like Me,” “Uncomfortable” and an extended jam version of “I Miss the Misery.” To say that this band is a must-see is an understatement. Their Instagram moniker is @halestormrocks and that they truly do and more.
I’ve been a fan of Amy Lee and Evanescence since their debut album “Fallen” in 2003. I remember hearing “Bring Me To Life” and being blown away. I got the cd within days of hearing it. It satisfied my gothic/metal/Christian musical needs. I have forever loved this song. “My Immortal” and “Taking Over Me” were stand-out songs for me with this album. I even went to Lime Wire to find more tracks and a few viruses, (if you know, you know). Then they released “The Open Door” which is my favorite Evanescence release top to bottom. I identify with much of Amy Lee’s lyrics and her voice is mesmerizing and strong, hypnotic at times and even haunting. But as much as I loved them, I had never seen them live.
Fast forward to when my late wife, Jamie, was battling cancer from 2008-2010, (she passed in November 2010) “BMTL” and “My Immortal” were songs she would sing during her battle with both cancer and the trauma she suffered throughout her life before we met.
For the last 11 years, the month of November, specifically November 2nd, I have been going to shows to commemorate her passing from this life into Heaven’s rest. For the past 7, I’ve been able to shoot some of my favorite bands, such as Bauhaus, The Damned, The Offspring to name a few. But this night, I was given the opportunity to shoot and witness a band that meant a great deal to her, one of her favorites, live for the first time.
With the lights blacked out, my anticipation grew. The band was illuminated with Amy in silhouette standing above drummer Will Hunt, they opened their set, which is heavy with songs from their latest release, “The Bitter Truth.” Generally, when I’m covering a show, the first 3 songs of any set are kind of a blur as I try to capture shots. No exception here, but I remember the feeling was intense. “Artifact/The Turn,” “Broken Pieces Shine” and “Made of Stone” were those songs.
“Take Cover,” “Going Under,” “The Game is Over” and “Lose Control” followed. So many great songs in their 20 song set. I am unfamiliar with the songs from the Bitter Truth album, but I also purchased it because from what I heard live, it’s a stellar album. The band, rounded out by Bassist Tim McCord, Guitarist Jen Mujara, and Lead Guitarist Troy McLawhorn, played them flawlessly and I look forward to really digging in as I have with previous albums. The remainder of the songs is in order according to setlist.Dm: “The Change”, “Lithium”, “Wasted on You”, “Part Of Me”, “End Of the Dream” and “Far from Heaven”
At this point, a video history of the band played. It showed highlights of the last 18 or so years since the band was formed and broke through.
They returned to the stage with “Better Without You,” and then “Call Me When You’re Sober” which was the lead single of the Open Door album and a personal favorite of mine followed by “Imaginary” from “Fallen” Have I mentioned how awesome Amy Lee’s voice is?
Lzzy Hale returned to stage as she and Lee dueted on Linkin Parks “Heavy,” once again giving us an angelic blend of their beautiful voices. “Use My Voice” which was associated with the UseMyVoice.Org Campaign in 2020.
The last song of the main set was the one that started it all for most of us, “Bring Me To Life.” I mentioned earlier what this song means to me and I have to admit I teared up a bit towards the end thinking of my late wife singing along with her iPod. I did get choked up a bit thinking of how much she would’ve loved to be here. I really loved hearing it live this way, without the male voice that it was originally released with. Amy Lee, your voice and lyrical delivery were amazing. Thank you.
A short break before the encore consisted of a song that has helped me thru many things since its release. “My Immortal” has been a go-to song for me when I’m feeling melancholy or struggling or when I’m happy and just want to hear the beautiful melody of the song with heartfelt lyrics. With Amy at her grand piano and bathed in white light and smoke, the smoothness of that song crept its way into my soul as I sang along in my baritone voice.
They closed the show with another song from TBT, “Blind Belief.” This was a very personal show for me as shown throughout this review. I am thankful to the Halestorm/Evanescence PR teams and Blurred Culture for allowing me the opportunity to cover it. Miss Ashley was the photographer’s escort for just being rad. Of course, all 3 bands. Just an amazing night of music. This was a Bucket list Show for me.
The Tour continues through Mid-December. I encourage everyone to go. It’s a spectacular time.
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