A triple bill of bands that are all at the top of their game in New Years Day, In This Moment and Halestorm is a treat to behold tonight in an almost full Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff. Having played smaller venues across the city in the past all three bands are clearly up for plying their wears in the Arena setting.
First up are New Years Day who bring the energy of the arena up a few notches with their blend of goth inflected, pop laced overtones. The interaction between lead singer Ash Costello and crowd is of the ‘clap in rhythm’ variety and the response from the crowd is responsive to Costello’s demands. The comment about awkward silences raises a chuckle from the audience as well. What plays against the band though is Costello’s almost constant interaction with another crowd who aren’t even in the building tonight, the one that is in the palm of her hand on her phone on Instagram or other social media. Yes, there is a need to interact with fans but ones who aren’t even in the building?! very strange indeed, maybe being in the moment would work better in the future.
Next up are Maria Brink and her motley crew of band members in In This Moment. Talking about being in the moment, this band almost steal the limelight away from the other two bands this evening. Opening with a covered stage and a booming rendition of the cover of the Steve Miller bands ‘Fly Like An Eagle’, Brink appears atop a pedestal covered in white, wearing a crown with her haunting vocals hitting every corner of the arena. The sheer scale, interaction (two dancers worship her gyrations from below her) and production is a huge eye-opener from a band that clearly should be headlining in their own right. Disappearing from view over the 30 minutes that they are criminally allowed this evening, Brink changes costumes frequently but loses no momentum in the set. An out of this world rendition of ‘Big Bad Wolf’ including Wolf style masks and Brink stalking her prey across the stage is a set highlight.
Onto the final band of the evening in headliners Halestorm lead by the talismanic Lizzy Hale all 7ft tall in rubber trousers and stiletto heels that could kill a man at 10 paces. The band have been rotating the setlist at each stop on this UK tour so each song is a surprise in which place it lands. Opening with ‘Vultures’ and heading skyward after each song, the welsh crowd below the band lap up every gesture, every call and response and every one-legged solo from Hale and her band members. The set consists of hit after hit, ‘I Get Off’, Love Bites (So Do I) and an out of this world rendition of ‘I Am The Fire’ close the main set.
A spotlight illuminated a solo Hale as her voice does the talking through renditions of Rock Show, White Dress and an emotional Dear Daughter. The vocal prowess really shows through whether mixed in with a crunching guitar or stripped of instruments, alone and fragile on stage. Getting the other bands up on stage is a nice play by Halestorm as they toast along to ‘Here’s To Us’ before a wailing ‘I Miss The Misery’ sends the exhausted crowd out into the Cardiff night air.