Concert Review: Godsmack & Halestorm Rock Out West Palm Beach
It was a hot Tuesday night in West Palm Beach. Now throw in some hard-rock heat on stage at the Coral Sky Amphitheater, and you have a night of loud, guitar-driven music that was so loud, it could have nearly set off a tsunami. Godsmack brought their When Legends Rise tour to West Palm Beach, having last appeared in South Florida at Fort Rock in 2018. Longtime fans of the band showed up on a school night to welcome the iconic rockers who have been on a steady touring schedule for the past few years.
Opening the evening was a newer band, Monster Truck. When lead singer and bass player Jon Harvey and Monster Truck took the stage, it was immediate mayhem. These hard-rockers from the north made their mark on those who came out early to catch the hard-rocking Canadian quartet. Monster Truck got the crowd going as they rolled through a brief set of seven songs, including one of their most recognized tracks, “Sweet Mountain River,” a song that had reached number 1 on the Canadian rock charts and was included in the music game Rocksmith 2014. Rocking through their 45-minute set, Monster Truck delivered raw, unshakable energy that got the headbangers’ hands in the air, flashing their devil horns. Now with the energy flowing at full power, Monster Truck jammed to “Evolution,” their newest single from latest album True Rockers (2018). There is no doubt that Monster Truck, the Southern rockers from the north, made some new fans that night; their hardness was the perfect kick-off to the night.
Next up was Grammy Award-winning hard rockers Halestorm. Even before the band took the stage, the first thing that you noticed was that this is a band who put a tremendous amount of time and money into their stage presence. The stage lighting was superb, including the brightest lights and lasers, bringing out the very best of Lzzy Hale‘s features. With a drum riser about five feet high, it was refreshing to see drummer Arejay Hale not being hidden in the back as is the case in most concert setups. With spotlights on both Lzzy and Arejay Hale, it was clear that this was going to be a rock show for the ages. As has been the case with comparisons for nearly a decade, it’s quite easy to be reminded of a young Runaways’ Joan Jett when Hale takes the stage. Wasting no time, Halestorm got right into it and kicked off their set, as Hale whose powerful vocal range of soprano and mezo soprano can reach the upper limits on the scale reminded fans to turn their phones off while singing that led into their first song of the night, “Do Not Disturb” from Vicious (2018) from their latest album. Turning phones off at concerts has been a point of contention for Godsmack’s Sully Erna who has been asking his fans to do for years. While many complied, the majority held out their phones to capture every moment of the show. These days, too many fans are preoccupied making videos instead in immersing themselves into the concert. [Ed. note: And those videos are almost always useless.]
With Lzzy Hale on vocals, Joe Hottinger on guitar, Josh Smith on bass and Arejay Hale pounding on the drums, this was setting up to be an epic night of hard rock to to satisfy the urges for those who came out on a Tuesday night as concert season starts to wind down for 2019. With the majority of those attending standing in front of their seats most of the set, jumping up and down, to the delights of their fans, Halestorm played 11 of their very best. One of the highlights of the night was when Lzzy announced that their mother was in the audience and had the crowd greet her with a resounding “HI MOM!” With that out of the way, it was time to get back to business. Halestorm was now in full rock attack mode and was ready to continue the head-banging show. As has become somewhat of a tradition at a Halestorm show, during his drum solo, Arejay Hale declared it was time for the big stick show; this, of course, is when he brings out his monster drum sticks that resemble baseball bats in size and he begins pounding on the drums, kicking the already excited crowd into overdrive.
Lead singer Lzzy Hale was in perfect spirit and looked incredible in flashy black leather and equipped with her Gibson Joan Jett Signature Melody Maker. Halestorm has evolved as a band since first forming in 1997; this band has remained consistent in their sound and appearance, delivering a memorable rock show that leaves you talking about them as your driving home. On this night, Halestorm didn’t hold anything back, delivering a gritty hard-edged performance to their most loyal fans. As the band closed out their set, they got into perhaps their most recognized hit “I Miss Misery.” If you missed Halestorm, shame on you. This concert was worth the price of admission alone, but wait; there was more to come.
With nearly 8,000 people in attendance still on their feet, full of vigor and anxiously awaiting Godsmack. At preciously 9:20, the crowd erupted as Godsmack took the stage. Things got started when drummer Shannon Larkin climbed into his massive drum kit and started pounding on the drums as the band took their spots and got into their opening song and tour title “When Legends Rise.” As the first few minutes of guitar riffs filled the air, Larkin’s drum riser began to turn a full 360 degrees with Larkin not skipping a beat; it was clear the rock show had started.
It’s been over a year since Godsmack headlined in South Florida in what would become the last Fort Rock Music Festival in 2018. Fans of the longtime Massachusetts-based hard rockers wanted more Godsmack and got what they demanded on Tuesday night. Godsmack didn’t disappoint, ripping nonstop into a full set of 14 of the band’s most recognized tunes. On this night, Sully Erna, who worked the stage like a lion searching for his prey, told those attending that it wasn’t a Tuesday night, told the pumped-up crowd to party like it’s a Saturday night. Like good soldiers, the crowd followed and kicked it into higher gear, screaming louder, and it seemed everyone was having a good time.
Frontman, guitarist and drummer Sully Erna has the ability to grab hold of the crowd, inject them with Godsmack’s hard rock sounds, and not let go till he’s done with you. Godsmack has remained very consistent with their music since they first started out in the mid-’90s, and their fans have remained unfailingly loyal, selling out shows regularly year after year. Godsmack has the perfect mesh of musical talents that were apparent that night: the band was tight and lived up to the hype that was abuzz in town weeks before the show. These rockers came to town to entertain and deliver a rock show.
Godsmack has nothing to prove. Shannon Larkin is well deserving of being considered as one of the very best drummers in rock. On this night he was the foundation that complemented Sully Erna’s vocals and incredible guitar skills along with the rest of Godsmack. Considered one of the highlights of the show is the fan-favorite legendary drum-off between Erna and Larking, known as ‘Batalla de los tambores,’ each on their own set of drums, with Larkin pounding on the drums with sticks, Erna using his hands, playing mainly the conga drums and cymbals. These two have been going at it since 2004 when the madness first started.
After nearly an hour and a half of ear-splitting heavy rock music, it was time to wind things down. The crowd seemed satisfied as if they had their fill at the local Chinese buffet. However, Godsmack wasn’t finished, as they led into a more relaxed “Under Your Scars” that featured the multi-instrumentalist Erna on piano. The band quickly shifted into “Bulletproof” and finally arrived at the last song of the night, “I Stand Alone,” where the crowd sang along to Erna’s powerful vocals nearly word for word. It turns out that the hype was real; this band delivered and gave them what they wanted. Godsmack and Halestorm was the perfect pairing for a night of harder and hardest rock that left those who attended happy to have ventured out to see these two iconic bands.
When Legends Rise / 1000hp / Someday / Voodoo / Unforgettable / Awake / Take It to the Edge / Something Different / Keep Away / Batalla de los tambores / Whatever / Encore: Under Your Scars / Bulletproof / I Stand Alone
Do Not Disturb / Love Bites (So Do I) / Black Vultures / I Get Off / Familiar Taste of Poison ~ Amen / Bass ~ Drum Solo / Freak Like Me / Chemicals / Uncomfortable / Here’s to Us / I Miss the Misery
Monster Truck Setlist:
Sweet Mountain River / She’s a Witch / Don’t Tell Me How to Live / Evolution / For the Sun / Call It a Spade / The Lion