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 This was met with some disappointment as Marc Hudson's vocal were a fuzzy mess due to the outdated P.A. system.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.
Joff Bailey showed off his unique cooling system to fight the heat
On what was perceived as perhaps the hottest day of the summer so far, the weather at times seemed to take control of the overall performance by each band on the night. But they walked away unbeaten, having played at what seemed to be a sell-out gig at Islington's The Garage venue.
Sweating buckets inside the crowed waited patiently for the first band to make their music heard, unleash the London mob Savage Messiah with their elaborate mix of Power Metal vocals with Thrash Metal embodiment, despite the heavy heat which led to the water jugs being handed out like sweets, the crowd enlivened themselves to the almighty blast that was being constructed in front of them. It was a decent and solid performance from the lads and served up nicely as a light appetizer for later metallic explosions later.
As for the band performance, Savage Messiah gave a much better performance than their Bloodstock set and by far wiped the smirks off of a lot of people's faces. Fueled by the unrelenting fluidity of water being passed around, with their riffs echoing across the whole borough and their atmosphere raising hell from beneath the crowds feet, the atmosphere inferno was only going to get hotter as the bad shifted into the shadows for another band to make their way onto the sweat-soaked stage.
Never mind Bloodshot Dawn, here is Sweatshot Day... er-hem
Another ex-Bloodstock band made their furious domination sound across the venue without any problems, except they seemed a little slack in this performance. I refer 'they' as to Bloodshot Dawn, the Pompey Melodic Death / Thrash armada that set sail to crush the controlling heat that was now taking its toll on people as they went outside to cool off.
By this point the room was so hot that demand exceeded supply at the bar and beer was being downed in the gallons, well you get the idea. None the less Bloodshot Dawn did what they were geared to do and brought the house down with their menacing and inescapable complex algorithm of brutal melodies and fast acceleration on not only the drums but the guitars too. However at times it did seem as if the heat was getting to them, thus affecting their playing and whilst that can't be helped, what can be helped is the seeming lack of movement on stage, whether they melted so much they became bolted to the ground, or they just could not find the right note to do so in remains anyone's guess.
Credit is given though to them for performing a damn good set, just it was not as good as most in the crowd expected, ironically worse was to come as before the headlining act Wintersun came on, the unwitting sound technician or the like accidentally knocked over a bottle of water near the guitar pedal and thus delaying Wintersun's set for around 10-15 minutes, leading to one fan being impromptu and displaying his anger towards the band for not coming out yet (come on mate it's not there fault you spilled your beer in the venue). Hark, the time had come....
Teemu showed guitarists how to play the Finnish way, ice cold style.
(Interview with Kai Hahto, drummer of Wintersun; also drummer of Swallow The Sun)
Despite the heat, Wintersun's fan had decided not to work tonight which was a shame, however the Finnish quartet did justice after the various issues and unleashed a frost-bitten wind of wintry proportions. Delivering that icy and cold feel to the atmosphere, Wintersun tore the room apart with their epic style of Melodic Death Metal. Interweaving between the new album 'Time' and their old self-titled album, eight years of a hard-long wait came out in one night for the attending crowd to let their hair down to (not implying the guys had their hair done up).
It was rather interesting to see how Wintersun not once mentioned about how hot it is in the room unlike the other bands, perhaps they didn't feel it as much - or the more likely scenario was that they smothered the venue in a brilliant blueish-white with the feeling of cryogenics biting at everyone's ears. It's been a long time since the lads made their journey across the British lands in a tour setup; albeit their Bloodstock appearance a few years ago.
You know the wait was entirely worth it, sure some were impatient; probably the same people were impatient for the second album, but as the saying goes 'good things come to those who wait'. In the end the overall feeling was all round satisfaction and one that certainly put the band in great stead for their next lot of gigs on the tour schedule, as for tonight Wintersun did the honor of not only cooling the crowd down (just), but making what could be the best live performance they have ever done in London.
It may have taken eight to nine years to play their new album live, but Wintersun made it 101% perfect tonight and in doing so, won a whole host of new fans over, we await for the next time they set foot in the London area.
[9/10] RHYS STEVENSON
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