By Ali Nichol-way
It seemed like the cosy venue that The Brickyard was famous for became a calling beacon for all metal fans throughout Cumbria. With what seemed like half of Carlisle queuing at the doors, this was a highly anticipated show that many still didn’t believe was actually happening. When the show was announced on March 31st 2014, many thought it was an early April Fools. After all, Dragonforce is a huge international band who have played alongside the likes of Iron Maiden to sold out arenas; so it’s with some disbelief they were playing this 500 capacity venue which is not in the most notable city in the UK. However this tour is in promotion of their new album "Maximum Overload". Playing in over 20 cities on this tour, their tagline of “this time it’s personal” is very apt, with the intimate shows allowing them to connect with their fans on a personal level.
Neonfly opened the night with their classic Power Metal sound that is already fit to fill arenas. Their opening song, 'Ships Without Sails', has a pitch perfect delivery but was received with some lethargy from the audience, whilst 'Enemy' brought and created some headbanging, and fist pumping from the slowly warming-up crowd. This may have been due to Willy Nortons infectious energy as he bounced around the stage, shamelessly dancing before making lots of eye contact with the crowd, letting them know that this is their performance as much as Neonfly's.
They brought an onslaught of metal after playing three songs in a row without a break. 'Spitting Blood', 'Ornament' and 'Things That Go Bump' go down a storm as members jumped on to the barrier and into the crowd. The heavy machine gun-like double bass kicked off a frenzy, whilst the triple threat of the guitars lead for the perfect intro, simultaneously showing why they are much more than just your average support band. They ended their set with their biggest single 'Morning Star', which created a cacophony of hand clapping and fist pumping.
Before they had even left people started pushing forward and chants for Dragonforce began. As they had never played Carlisle before, this was a new experience that the dedicated fans were sure to make the most of. You could barely hear their atmospheric, electronic entrance music over the thunderous applause of the crowd. This was met with some disappointment as Marc Hudson's vocal were a fuzzy mess due to the outdated P.A. system. However this was soon made up for by the brutal guitar and keyboard solos which, after the success of Guitar Hero, is the main attraction.
Before the tour, Dragonforce had asked fans what songs they wanted to hear live, essentially allowing them to build the set list themselves. When Hudson said this, chants of 'Three Hammers' had begun before he’d got half way through the sentence. Sure enough 'Three Hammers' was next much to the fans glee as they clapped in time and sang along word for word. During Herman Li's mind blowing guitar solo a circle pit erupted as the slowly building tune reached its peak. This lead them headfirst into 'Black Winter' and 'New Song Season'. You could see that they were trying, and succeeding, to make it as personal as possible, however some grabby fans were pushing the limits as one tried to take Li's guitar from him while he was playing.
Their 90 minute set comprised of many guitar battles between Li and Totman, getting more and more wilder as the show progressed. Li’s little kicks and tricks proved what a guitar playing god he was a he tackled complex melodies with smug ease. As they left the stage, “One more song” chants echoed around the room, goading them into coming back on stage for an encore, which was received with deafening applause.
After giving a brief introduction about how they wanted to play a cover, they went into the most brutal cover of 'Ring of Fire' by Johnny Cash that has ever been conceived. This was added too by their amazing light display that looked like Kit from Knightrider on steroids. After telling fans there was a free meet and greet after the show they played what every fan in that room had been waiting for; 'Through The Fire And The Flames'. This was the perfect end to the night as the room erupted into musical chaos. This once again proves that Dragonforce is a band that everyone should witness live at least once in their lives.
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