Evanescence and Halestorm: Back from the Dead Alive
Rock legends Evanescence and Halestorm came back from the dead when they kicked off their double-headline tour in Portland on November 5th. Read Bren Swogger’s full review below, and see photographer Emma Davis’s full photo gallery from the show here.
Autumn in Portland has always been the peak season for live music. Prior to the COVID pandemic, venues would be crowded with people wrapped around the block, winter coats protecting them from the cold and wet seasonal conditions of the Pacific Northwest.
Last year, with lockdowns and capacity limits still in place, the venues around Portland were silent during their usual peak season. But this year, live music has begun to trickle its way back into the city as more bands make their long-awaited returns to the touring stage.
On the night of November 5th, Portland got to welcome two massive names back from the dead after two years away as Evanescence and Halestorm kicked off their massive double-headline tour at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The Rose Quarter that Friday night was anything but quiet, with a packed house for the Portland Trail Blazers descending on the Moda Center just across the way. Fans decked out in Trail Blazers gear mixed and mingled with metal dads and middle school kids with colored hair as they all made their way to their respective destinations.
After nearly two years without live music, the sight of a packed arena was both daunting and beautiful. That many people together in one place was a sight not seen for so long, but the mutual love they all brought–fueled by both nostalgia and current teenage angst–made for a surge of energy unlike any other when Halestorm took the stage for their 45 minute set.
Though Halestorm had played some shows prior to this tour kickoff with Evanescence, there was a palpable energy just now being uncaged after too long. Lead singer Lzzy Hale’s growling vocals burst forth, aided by massive drum breaks and ripping guitar solos, injecting pure rock energy into the packed arena.
“This is our first show of the tour,” Lzzy Hale told the crowd, and tonight, “it’s time, after everything we’ve been through, to tell the world to go fuck itself.”
As everyone sang and screamed along, a cathartic feeling was left hanging in the air. After so many challenges in the past two years, the pent up energy of the crowd was let out in pumped fists and banging heads. Halestorm left everything they had on stage, and there was nowhere to go but up when Evanescence took the floor.
“This is the first show we’ve played in front of a live audience in two years,” Evanescene’s lead singer Amy Lee told the audience. “And there is no place we would rather be.”
Even though this was their first show back after much too long, it seemed as if no time had passed. Lee’s vocals filled up the space in the arena with the same power they had 20 years prior. And for their big return, Evanescence were out to prove they only had more to give after so long away from the crowds.
“We had this crazy idea to make this the longest set we’ve ever played,” Lee told the crowd. And that was exactly what they accomplished. The band tore through a 21 song set, lasting nearly two hours and spanning their entire career–from all-time favorites off of their 2003 debut, Fallen, to nearly the entirety of their latest record, this year’s The Bitter Truth.
Though Evanescence kept the energy rising to boundless heights with Lee’s soaring vocal performances and the rest of the band’s heavy hitting instrumentals, there still existed moments of intimacy in the band’s grandiose presence.
Welcoming Lzzy Hale back to the stage, one of the night’s most beautiful moments came with a piano cover of Linkin Park’s “Heavy”. Though Lee’s voice lives in a classically trained space, and Hale’s growls with a gutteral rock texture, the meshing of the two styles was effortless, and it provided a special moment that showed just how beautiful live music can be.
Not only was the night a grand return for both bands, kicking off their first tour in this post-lockdown world, but for many in attendance, it was a return to the experience of live music and the shared love and passion that it creates amongst strangers.
As Hale and Lee let the crowd marinade in the music, the entire arena lit up with the sparkling glow of cell phone lights. After so long without those magical moments, it was made all the more special for any and everyone there who were left without it for too long.