Carnival of Madness

On Monday I went to see the Carnival of Madness tour live at the SSE Hydro arena in Glasgow. There were four, all fantastic bands: Highly Suspect, Halestorm, Shinedown and finally, Black Stone Cherry. I honestly couldn’t pick a favourite on the night, they were all great!

Highly Suspect were the only band that I’d not seen before Monday. In fact, I hadn’t heard of them before the lineup of the show was announced. After it was announced I began to listen to their debut, and this far only, album, Mister Asylum. I was very impressed, particularly by one song, Lydia. By time the gig came around, I was rather excited to see them, and they really did not disappoint! Their lead singer has a voice that doesn’t match his face; he has a far more refined, deep-ranging vocal style that seems to come out of nowhere. And there’s a lot of sound that comes from just three guys on stage too. The only comparison I can make of them is of a heavier sounding Kings of Leon, although I think that’s an injustice to their originality. On the night they were outstanding – it’s just a shame they were the up-and-coming warmup act that much of the crowd never bothered showing up for…

Halestorm on the other hand, I have seen before, the last time when they, along with Shinedown, supported Alter Bridge’s tour in support of their fourth album, Fortress. Lazy Hale’s vocals have of late caught the attention of well, just about everybody in rock, and as a result the band’s popularity has soared – and for good reason! Their latest album, Into the Wild Life, isn’t my personal favourite but is probably their most technically broad record yet. Lzzy’s vocals could make a terrible band sound pretty damn good, but it does help that she also some decent music to scream along to. If you’ve not heard any of their stuff by now, you need to come out from underneath that rock and (pun intended), listen to some rock!

Shinedown were impeccable as always and definitely got the crowd going the most! It gets to the point with their live performance that I genuinely begin questioning whether or not Brent Smith is lip-syncing, such is how impressive he maintains the sound of the studio recording. Any concerns  of lip-syncing are quickly put to bed though when you realise how much sweat and energy he is putting into his singing. It is the first time I’ve heard their latest material live since they released their latest album, Threat to Survival, which on the whole sounds somewhat more electronic than their previous albums. They performed a few of the new songs, and they were all great, especially Cut the Cord. They are definitely the most consistent band I’ve seen perform.

Black Stone Cherry were the Carnival of Madness headliners and they were excellent too. Of all the bands, I had seen them most recently, only last year in fact at the same venue when they were supported by Airbourne and Theory of a Deadman. This means that they haven’t released any new material in the meantime, but we did get a preview of two new songs from their upcoming new album: In Our Dreams and The Rambler. They also brought out Lzzy Hale for a special version of Peace is Free (without doubt the highlight of the night for me). I think they more impressive this time round than last, where they relied a little to heavily on crowd participation rather than singing the songs people had paid to hear. The finished the night with a bang, and in keeping with the theme of great singers too. Chris Robertson can hold his own, even in the presence of Lzzy Hale!

All in all, it was a great night, and a lineup that I could not improve much if I were to handpick it! The last three bands are all firm favourites in my iTunes library and have been for some time. Highly Suspect also show plenty of promise and I’m sure I will be attending any future concerts in the vicinity if they decide to tour, fingers crossed!

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