Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham, 29.01.2016

Carnival of Madness brought America to Nottingham for one night only. Black Stone Cherry acted as the headline, with Shinedown, Halestorm and support act Highly Suspect performing just alongside.

The crowd was buzzing from the word go, as Highly Suspect, a small band from Massachusetts, started the show. The band got the good vibes going and, even if not everyone was dancing, support from the crowd was overflowing with positivity. ‘Lydia’ was the most poignant track, getting my feet to tap along to the mesmerising beat of the drum and rhythm of the guitar.

Next was Halestorm, a more recognised name amongst the crowd and in the metal genre as a whole. The band exemplified what more experience of live performing can provide. I did not know what to expect, having never heard Halestorm’s music live before, but I was pleasantly surprised at how good their act was: the sound of their instruments clearer than shown through the pre-recorded videos.

Lzzy Hale was outstanding, showing energy alongside a great hard vocal that perfected the screaming notes much better than those whose forte is solely the scream. ‘Freak Like Me’ and ‘Amen’ were the two songs that kept fresh in my mind, the catchy tunes sticking in my head for a couple of days before heading back to work to non-stop Bieber.

Shinedown, the main reason I attended this gig, amped up the audience and vibe even further. Brent Smith was a welcoming frontman who dared to walk amongst the outstretched hands and was capable enough to get everyone on their feet. This could possibly be bias but, having never seen them live before, this stole the highlight slot of the night for me.

As well as their most popular classic songs, Shinedown also hit the crowd with their latest songs from the album Threat to Survival. ‘Cut the Cord’ and the ‘Sound of Madness’ were just two of the tracks that made me catch myself bellowing aloud to, both in the arena and on the way home.

Finally, to headline the night, Black Stone Cherry came on-stage; and quite spectacularly: a sheet covering the stage fell dramatically, revealing the hard-rock band strumming along to the cheers of the crowd.

As the night went on I felt the bands progressively performing better, leading the night to mayhem, but this is for me where it dwindled. The lead singer, Chris Robertson, showed an emotional side, overloading thanks for his fans. For me however, his reliance on the crowd’s singing created a bit of alienation to people like me, who didn’t know every-single-lyric to every-single-song.

Having just had an act like Shinedown on the stage, who literally got all of the crowd on their feet; connecting us all together and revving up the night; Black Stone Cherry was just not for me. ‘Me and Mary Jane’ and ‘Things my Father Said’ were however tracks that stole it back for them in my heart.