Halestorm + Palaye Royale + Beasto Blanco @ MTelus – 15th May 2019

Halestorm @ Mtelus

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Grammy-winning hard rock band HALESTORM recently stopped by Mtelus in Montreal to put on an impressive show in front of a packed house.

The band released their most recent album, Vicious, last year. Album track “Uncomfortable” was nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance at the Grammys.

Canada’s Palaye Royale also played in support of their second album, Boom Boom Boom (B Side), which was released last year. Meanwhile, Beast Blanco, featuring Alice Cooper bassist Chuck Garric and Cooper’s daughter Calico, will be promoting 2016’s self-titled album.

Little did I know though that the headlining band was actually there to give a rock n roll masterclass, with one of the best voices in the business. I still can’t get over Lzzy Hall’s performance. But let’s take a moment to appreciate the great acts that led to this.

First up was Beasto Blanco, a rock n roll band that’s been together for 7 years now and played all over the globe numerous times. Honestly, I never heard of them before, but I knew from their pictures and videos, they would give a killer performance in true rock star fashion. They reminded me of a classic rock band from the 80’s with their long hair, cool demeanour, leather outfits, and overall energy, acting like they’re ready to conquer the world with each performance. Their sound was heavier than an old school rock band though, but the riffs were kinda hard to discern because the guitars sounded very muddy. Still, it was easy to understand this band wasn’t gonna reinvent the wheel, and the songs didn’t require much brain to get into. This was headbanging stuff, plain and simple. 

Lead singer Chuck Garric was clearly born to perform on a stage. The man, that has a low growl singing voice very reminiscent of Rob Zombie, was on fire from start to finish. To his side, it was tough to ignore Calico Cooper, the daughter of the grandfather of shock rock himself, Mr Alice Cooper. Now it’s easy to say the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, but she really inherited the charisma of her father. She was pure entertainment with her spooky makeup, interacting with her bandmates, waving a huge flag, baseball bats with nails, or spraying smoke to the crowd. All the musicians were solid too, and overall this was the perfect entrée to warm up the crowd for the next meal, a totally different, but still pure rock n roll band.

Palaye Royal didn’t have the same macho-esque rock star persona, but they were about to set the whole stage on fire, with some badass vintage rock attitude. They arrived dressed straight from the 60’s and started playing The Stooges classic, “I Wanna Be Your Dog”. I wasn’t familiar with the band at all and was hooked right away. Their version was raw, natural, not forced, and you could tell they weren’t pretending or playing it to make a statement. The Stooges was their school, and the boys had done their homework right. 

After that they jumped into “Don’t Feel Quite Right”, their single from 2015, and even though I gotta say I thought the video for it was quite boring and didn’t impress me that much, the live performance was a whole other story. Both guitarists were all over the place, moving like the stage was on fire. Singer Remington Leigh was also singing his heart out like there was no tomorrow, jumping everywhere and showing true passion for his art. At one point he jumped over the speakers and then jumped back on stage like he knew the place by heart. He also jumped on the barricade that separated them from the crowd with such confidence that you couldn’t help but be impressed that he didn’t break both legs. They sounded really good, great guitar tones, some hard hitting drums and catchy songs all the way through. A very, very solid performance.

Finally, Halestorm was set to hit the stage. Now, this was a first for me. To start with the drum solo. Really? Ok then! And what a great solo it was. All the crowd got into it, thanks to Arejay Hale’s charisma and oversized drumsticks. The band finally appeared and jumped into the really good “Freak Like Me”. Now I’m not gonna lie here, my first job there was to actually shoot the show, so I bet the first 3 songs sounded awesome, but really, I was just focused on taking my shots. But when I finally got back to my seat and was ready to enjoy a great rock show, I just wasn’t prepared for this.

As I got back to the balcony I could hear singer Lzzy talking about how they spend the day at Chez Pare, a local institution here in Montreal. She also mentioned our beloved poutine, saying there’s something weird behind this. Aside from the fact that like any other Quebecois, I could eat one for breakfast, I don’t know what she means. Anyway, the first song I could enjoy was “Vicious”, the title track from their brand new album. This is where a lot of things hit me hard. First, the sound. Each instrument sounded so good. Second, the visuals. Props to the light tech, there were some really interesting and complex moods in there, throughout the entire set. Finally, Lzzy’s voice. I mean I knew she could sing, I listen to many of their songs. But it was my first time seeing her live, and yeah, it blew me away. I like to think I can judge a singer, not only just by my personal taste, or some music geek road sheet, but as a musician. I was a music teacher for many years, so when I go “woah”, that means you should go “whoah” too, or you just don’t get it haha. 

Lzzy Hale Halestorm in Montreal

So all this led to the best rock performance I have seen so far this year. “Amen”. Before playing the actual song, Lzzy sang an acapella version of “Familiar Taste of Poison”, that was just jaw-dropping. What a voice! She can really hit those notes with such power and raw talent. I had goosebumps all over my body, really. They jumped into the song, which is a really good one, and they killed it. But then they decided to add an outro with some crazy leads from guitarist Joe Hottinger. The guy can shred! The solo, that was clearly improv was just amazing and loaded with feels. But that wasn’t the end of it. Lzzy decided she’ll play some leads too. So the woman can shred too? Her solo was like equally solid too in terms of feels so this was just amazing, more so when they interacted together. Definitely, one of the best performances and displays of rock n roll perfection I have seen in a long time.

I had to leave at the encores, but you could tell the whole crowd was having a really good time. I mean how could you not? 3 amazing rock n roll performances, from 3 different rock bands, what more can you ask for? Oh yeah that they do it all over again the day after. I’d pay to see this again.

Palaye Royale

Beasto Blanco

Review & Photos – Pedro Manu Riot

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