Freedom Call + Power Quest + HanOwaR
@ The Underworld Camden, London
25th February 2018
Review by Torbjørn ‘Toby’ Jørstad
Photography by Oliver M.
A top quality power metal lineup seems a rare occurrence in London. However, last Sunday’s bill at The Underworld with German power metal stars FREEDOM CALL, local heroes POWER QUEST and Portsmouth-based Manowar-clone HANOWAR was a nice exception. The dimly lit venue below Camden’s The World’s End is quickly swarming with metalheads as the time is drawing near for the first band of the night.
Laughter breaks out among the audience as the night’s opening band HanOwaR takes the stage, complete with leopard hides and abs drawn on with a marker. The Portsmouth-based five-piece are, as their name suggests, a tribute to the metal legends Manowar themselves, and all their songs are, in their own words, “about heavy metal”.
“We’ve been drinking all day and we haven’t practiced,” vocalist Kieran ‘Power’ McCarthy proclaims. The many beer bottles scattered around the stage is a testament to his statement, and so is the amount of missed notes and rather hilarious display of showmanship during their short set. Still, the crowd seems greatly entertained by their repeated display of the Manowar hand-sign and singalong chants like “Kill! Kill!” and “Victory! Victory!”
Plastic swords are handed out to the audience for “Fighting the World”, later also party poppers because “pyro is too expensive”. There seems to have been very few, if any, wimps and posers in attendance that night, as the crowd didn’t exactly shrink after their glorious rendition of the epic “Battle Hymns” ends their set, with tiny fireworks shooting from the guitars and bass.
It’s impossible to take the band seriously, and one clearly has to judge them for what they are; a highly amusing tribute act focusing on the cheesy clichés rather than the musicianship of a band most metal fans love and adore. And with that in mind, HanOwaR did a splendid job warming up the audience for the coming bands.
2. Hail and Kill
3. Fighting the World
4. King of Metal
5. Battle Hymns
Power Quest have retained a strong local following since their beginning, something quite evident judging by the crowd as the time gets closer to their appearance. The band is still riding the wave of their sixth album (Sixth Dimension) released last year, and return to The Underworld for the first time since their headlining show in October last year.
The opening track “Ascension” from Magic Never Dies sounds over the PA, and the band enters one by one to cheers from the crowd. Keyboardist and founding member Steve Williams unsurprisingly gets the loudest applause, before the band tears into the single “Lords of Tomorrow” from their latest album.
Guitarists Andy Kopczyk and Glyndwr Williams are left confused for a short while as there was no sound coming from the guitars. The problem is quickly resolved, and the axemen join in with the rest of the band in the massive feat of energy and glorious cheesiness for the next half hour.
Vocalist Ashley Edison is in top form, and reaches the highest notes seemingly effortlessly. His great connection with the crowd, as he conjures chants of the band’s name in between songs and counts down for the crowd to make noise, is a big plus.
Four of the band’s seven songs are from Sixth Dimension, and the crowd’s dedication to singing along and headbanging stands to show that even their new material shines through with quality. Still, it’s when the classics “For Evermore” and “Far Away” from the sophomore and debut albums are played that the crowd’s energy is at its peak.
Edison announces that the band will return to headline The Underworld again this November, before starting work on a new album. These are both good news for all power metal fans in the scene, and Power Quest’s performance Sunday stands to show that they are still going strong after more than 15 years.
1. Lords of Tomorrow
2. Temple of Fire
3. Face the Raven
4. Kings and Glory
5. Coming Home (Sacred Land II)
6. For Evermore
7. Far Away
German masters of ‘happy metal’, Freedom Call, make their return to the UK capital almost three years since their last performance in London. The band, led by frontman Chris Bay, are touring in support of their ninth studio album, Masters of Light, released in 2016.
As the light goes out and the band enters one by one, the crowd sings along to the simple, yet catchy lyrics of “Metal Is For Everyone”. However, it is “Tears of Babylon” from 2010s Legend of the Shadowking that becomes their first song of the night. The crowd is jumping along from the very start, and when the band’s title track “Freedom Call” follows a few songs later, the singalong was surely heard outside on Camden Road.
“Let’s make Sunday our fun-day!” Bay proclaims, smilingly, and the crowd obeys. The setlist is a good mix of old and new songs, with classics like “Mr. Evil” and “Carry On” being obvious crowd pleasers. The sound is well-mixed, although a bit on the loud side, and each musician on stage execute their roles with skill and professionalism.
The acoustic guitar is brought out for “Masters of Light”, and later again for the band’s rather humorous rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (“Hallelujah! Happy metal! Hallelujah! Freedom Call!”). Finally, the crowd is treated to the all-inclusive power metal anthem that is “Metal Is For Everyone”, with its joyful lyrics about community and inclusion.
A short encore break is followed by potentially the strongest three-song succession of the night. “Power & Glory”, “Warriors” and finally “Land of Light” ends the glorious celebration of happy metal at The Underworld, and Freedom Call have again proven their worth in the power metal scene.
1. Tears of Babylon
2. United Alliance
3. Kings Rise and Fall
4. Union of the Strong
5. Freedom Call
6. Hammer of the Gods
7. Masters of Light
8. Carry On
9. Mr. Evil
10. A Perfect Day
11. Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover)
12. Metal Is For Everyone
13. Power & Glory
15. Land of Light