By photojournalist Dave Moto
98 Rock’s “Not So Silent Night” hit Downtown Tampa Tuesday night with the catchy name that felt holiday like. No carols were sung though and Amalie Arena was instead overtaken and dominated in a way that would have left Jose Gaspar himself pumping his fist in victory. Hard rock vixens Amy Lee and Evanescence, Lzzy Hale and Halestorm and newcomer Lilith Czar had indeed invaded our city!!
The first wave of invasion began with Clearwater’s own Lilith Czar. She was originally known as Juliet Simms when she appeared in 2011 on TV’s The Voice, where she finished as runner up on the season. Immediately signed by Universal Records she recorded and released her first album, but soon would split ways after learning her creative visions and looks were strictly controlled by the label. Addictions followed until meeting and eventually marrying Black Veil Brides Frontman Andy Biersback. A new sober Juliet decided to toughen up. The name Lilith=Adam and Czar=Ruler. A new woman was born. She has just released her new album “Created From Filth and Dust” and treated us to some of its best with the songs “Anarchy” and the hit “King”. This young lady is just getting started and is definitely to be watched!!
The 2nd Platoon took the stage with Lzzy Hale leading the way. Pennsylvania rockers Halestorm gave us an amazing show worthy of its own headline. The band opened with “Back From the Dead” which brought the house to its feet. Lzzy, brother Arejay Hale on Drums, Guitarist Joe Hottinger and Bassist Josh Smith gave us all a seemingly endless set of hits including “Love Bites”, “I Get Off” and ending the set with an awesome rendition of their song “I Miss The Misery”. Amy Lee joined the band onstage midway to perform a duo on the song “Break In” and brother Arejay performed one of the wildest drum solo’s I have ever witnessed that included a pair of 3 ft long drumsticks. The 2nd wave had hit with force!!
The Invasion was sealed though as Arkansas rockers Evanescence, led by the infamous Amy Lee adorned in her trademark Gothic gown took center stage with an incredible light show backing them. The crowd cheered through hits “Bring Me To Life” and “My Immortal” which have sold in excess of 17 million copies and earned the band 2 Grammy’s. Halfway through the 90 minute set, fans were treated to home movies of the bands career moments as they played “Better Without You”. Lzzy Hale then returned the favor and joined Amy onstage for the song “Heavy” with perfect harmonies between them, leaving us all to wonder if these two may one day collaborate on a song of their own together. As Amy, bandmates Jen Majura on Guitar, Troy McLawhord on Guitar, Drummer Will Hunt and Bassist Tim McCord exited the stage the crowd somehow had enough leftover to chant for the band for over 10 minutes, never relenting until the band returned and performed an encore with “My Immortal” and closing the show with “Blind Relief”.
An amazing show start to finish. Hats off to 98 Rock for hosting this. If the Mayor hasn’t already handed over the key to the city, she definitely owes it!!