It was a very cold and snowy night in Minneapolis last Tuesday, but that didn’t stop thousands of people from wanting to see Evanescence and Halestorm’s US Arena Tour. I met fans that traveled hours to come to stand and shiver in the fifteen-degree weather, waiting to get inside the Armory. Everything changed, however, once in the venue. As soon as we walked in, we could feel the energy building. We could just sense that this was going to be an incredible night of music.
The opening act was Lilith Czar. This artist, who first appeared on “The Voice” in 2012, used to give off a less-edgy appearance performing under her own name, Juliet Simms; but earlier this year, she signed to Sumerian Records and rebranded herself as the darker and cabalistic Lilith Czar. As the lights in the venue dimmed, the speakers played “Intro Poem,” the opening track to Lilith Czar’s debut album, “Created From Filth and Dust.” As the song came to an end, the band took their positions on stage, and the shriek of “Feed My Chaos” broke out, soon followed by the groovy music that accompanies. Despite most of the crowd never hearing Lilith Czar’s music, they received it quite well. Everyone seemed captivated while Lilith strolled back and forth on the stage belting out the lyrics to “100 Little Deaths.”
Along with the band’s rebranding came an emphasis on feminism, as could be heard on their next song, “King.” Lilith knelt down at the edge of the stage and sang the chorus of her sermon, “If it’s a man’s world, I wanna be king, If it’s a man’s world, don’t wanna be queen, If it’s a man’s world bringing me down, If it’s a man’s world wearing the crown, If it’s a man’s world, I wanna be, I wanna be, king.” One highlight from the setlist was hearing the rendition of Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen.” Whether it was the classic cover or her own song like “Lola,” Lilith’s impressive voice filled the venue and wowed us all. The band closed with their energetic single, “Anarchy.” There is doubt this new band is gathering a huge fanbase on this tour.
After a short wait, Halestorm emerged. The opening chord rang out and Lzzy Hale’s powerful vocals screamed out, “I’m back from the dead!” Until this point, we all felt as though we were awake, but this Pennsylvania quartet delivered new energy into the room, bringing the crowd even more to life with their latest single, “Back From the Dead.” Next, the band played two fast-paced songs, “Uncomfortable” and “Mz Hyde.” The chemistry between Lzzy and lead guitarist Joe Hottinger was evident as they often stood back to back jamming the riffs to their singles.
The band played “I Get Off” from their self-titled, and certified Gold debut album, and it was entertaining to watch drummer Arejay Hale perform stick tricks throughout the song. Lzzy and Hottinger both played double-necked guitars on their hit single, “I Am the Fire.” Lzzy then took a moment to thank fans for supporting musicians throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and how special it is to herself and the band to be back on the road playing again. She asked fans to get their cellphones out and light up the venue. She then sat down at the grand piano to play “Break In.” Just like the recording on their latest EP, Lzzy was accompanied by none other than Amy Lee. Hearing these two women harmonize so beautifully was one of the highlights of the evening.
After the emotional “Break In,” the band started to amp things up again with their groovy song, “Amen.” Arejay then started his drum solo, getting the crowd more and more excited as he quickened and complicated his rhythm patterns. After a few minutes, he threw his sticks down and pulled out a new pair that resembled baseball bats more than traditional drumsticks. The crowd laughed, yet was still amazed as he beat the floor toms with a thundering resound. The rest of the band came back on stage to play fan favorites, “Freak Like Me” and “Love Bites (So Do I).” To end their set, these four musicians closed with “I Miss the Misery,” and the last thing we heard was Lzzy screaming for nearly 20 seconds. I don’t think there was a disappointed fan in the audience. You can tell that Halestorm has a ton of fun playing live.
We all waited for Evanescence to take the stage. The entire venue was dark as Artifact/The Turn played as an intro to the band’s long set. At the end of the song, there is a countdown from three and when zero hits, the drums kick in. The lights flashed along with the floor toms, and vocalist Amy Lee appeared high above the main stage singing the opening lines to “Broken Pieces Shine.” It was quite the opening appearance! The band continued with “Made of Stone” and “Take Cover.”
Their setlist comprised songs from each of the band’s albums, but the majority was from their latest album, “The Bitter Truth.” The album was released earlier this year after a ten-year gap between full-length albums. Fans loved hearing “Going Under” and “Imaginary” from the band’s mega-popular debut album, “Fallen.” The setlist was diverse and the band would often leave for periods of time, leaving Amy the center of attention at the piano. It was so magical to hear her play the beginning of songs like “Lithium,” “Wasted On You,” and “Far From Heaven,” and then have the band come in in all its force at just the right time.
It was a real treat to see Lzzy Hale come back out on stage and join Amy in singing a cover of Linkin Park’s last single, “Heavy.” As I said earlier, these two women harmonize beautifully and are two of the most talented female vocalists in rock music. Having them honor the late Chester Bennington by covering this song was a touching tribute. I think every fan sang along as the band played “Call Me When You’re Sober” and their closing song, “Bring Me to Life.” I don’t remember the last time I saw a band play this long of a setlist, but eighteen songs weren’t enough for this Minnesota crowd and they demanded more. Amy came back out to the grand piano to play “My Immortal” and the band joined in on the final song, “Blind Belief.” It’s not hard for me to say that this was my favorite concert of 2021 and I doubt many at the Armory last Tuesday would disagree with me.