It’s a gig I’ve been particularly looking forward to since interviewing Paul “The AxeMan” Martin of Devilskin late last year and now the day has arrived.
It’s been HOT, and we’re not talking standard Australian summer heat. Sydney is baking under the oppressive temperatures, sweating like you’ve just run around in a shower, temperatures of 38 degrees Celsius. I’ve arrived at the Factory Theatre in Marrickville, Sydney around 7.20PM where thankfully, it has dropped to only, a relatively warm, 30 degrees Celsius for Halestorm and Devilskin.
The vibe before heading in is good, in spite of the heat and most people I talk with are keen to see Halestorm, having seen them previously. Though, quite a few are really looking forward to Devilskin. The theatre itself hosts around 800-1000 standing patrons and is probably well over half full as I grab a spot in the middle. The people keep filing in and by the time Devilskin hit the stage to a good round of cheers at 8.30 the place looks to be full.
Someone yells out “the Axeman Cometh!” noting Paul Martin’s appearance on stage and the band then proceed to start warming up the crowd, kicking off with We Rise from the album Be Like The River. Here I am able to confirm what I was told by Paul in that interview about Jennie Skulander’s voice and presence on stage. She is a commanding presence on stage, able to sing so powerfully and hit all the high notes before then producing some of the most amazing growls you’ve heard, which catches quite a few of the crowd off guard. But by halfway through the second song, Start a Revolution, the crowd is totally into it.
Devilskin are tight, the rhythm section driven by father and son duo, Paul and Nic Martin, just pound out a beautiful groove for lead guitarist Nail to add to with some really cool riffs. The interaction on stage is really good, you can tell they are enjoying it and are feeding off the crowd reception. Devilskin play an impressive range of songs from both their albums, as well as a bloody good cover of the Dio classic, Holy Diver. They play 14 songs taking their set to a bit over an hour and they have the crowd enthralled all the way through. This provides a great showcase of what they have to offer and as a result, the crowd is now as hot as the day was outside and ready for Halestorm. On that performance, I would have to say Devilskin have found more than a few new fans as a result of tonight’s set.
After around 30 minutes Halestorm then take the stage, building on the energy that has been generated already they whip the crowd into a frenzy kicking off with Apocalypse. Lzzy Hale has the crowd in the palm of her hand from the outset and effortlessly glides into It’s Not You. It really has been a feast of a night for two amazing vocalists, Lzzy sounding in fine form also. Later she apologises to the crowd for sniffling with a joke about rock stars and cocaine (I’m only on cough medicine – does that mean I’m a cool kid too?), letting the crowd know she has been suffering with bronchitis that makes her performance tonight even more impressive.
Lzzy continues to have the crowd rocking on through their numerous hits like Ms Hyde, Freak Like Me, I Get Off and one of their latest covers – Still Of The Night by Whitesnake. The band is in fine form tonight as well, not missing a beat. The rhythm section really grooves through the night, including a highly anticipated drum solo from Arejay Hale, it includes his trademark Big Sticks bash. Halestorm’s performance is punctuated by interaction with the crowd, Lzzy talking to the crowd between songs and reflecting on how much she loves this band. One time she details the support from her parents in encouraging Arejay and herself to live out their dreams. She also reflects that she got her mother’s trait of talking a bit much… This interlude then becomes a heart-felt lead in to keyboard-led ballad Dear Daughter. Some people only want bands to play, but to me, it is these sort of interactions which makes a performance so much more special.
Halestorm play a 15 song set and bypass the encore with a bit more chat, finishing off with Mayhem and I Miss The Misery leaving this punter feeling quite fulfilled by a great night of Hard Rock/Metal from two premier bands.
I am able to catch up with Paul from Devilskin around the Merchandise table after the gig. He is there with Nail, signing stuff and talking to the fans who have stuck around. They are both thankful for the support they have got from the Aussie crowds and the response to the gig, they vow to be back again soon. They definitely delivered and are gathering a good following, some going to great lengths to catch them. One fan tells Paul he has driven from Melbourne after attending the gig last night and is driving to Brisbane in the morning so he can catch both bands again on the next night. That’s an 11 and a 12 hour drive over two days and some amazing support, but when the bands deliver like they did tonight, it’ not that surprising.