Kamelot and Xandria
@ HMV Forum, London
7th November 2012
Review by Victoria Fenbane
Photography by Michelle Murphy
Much like fellow symphonic metallers Nightwish, Xandria have faced front-woman dramas in recent years, the product of which is latest album Neverworld’s End and a switch to a more operatic style, which is hard to miss!
Being less well known than the aforementioned Finns, these changes have been less publicized, meaning a break with the past has been less risky for Xandria and v2.0 is gaining new fans with ease. They take the stage to find a welcoming crowd, with interest stretching far back into London’s HMV Forum.
It is impossible to tell whether these are existing fans or gained since the release of the newer material. It is not surprising if they have been brought here by the operatic opus Neverworld’s End, but I am familiar with their back catalogue and have seen them live before, so tonight can compare the current and previous Xandria.
The most obvious change is the vocal style – and what a voice! Manuela can definitely pull it off live. They get straight to business, capturing the attention of those not already fans by opening with ‘Valentine’. Swiftly moving into ‘Euphoria’ demonstrating they are no one trick pony.
The on-stage chemistry of the whole band is much closer than I recall of the previous line-up and they look to be having a lot of fun, which infects the crowd. At the halfway point the set slows for ‘The Dream is Still Alive’ to which mobiles and lighters are held aloft without prompting.
Then tempo picks up again for hornpipe styled ‘Cursed’, followed by the full on heavy symphonic metal of ‘Soulcrusher’; Throughout which there are a few issues with vocals dropping out, but the band ether didn’t notice or were too professional to be affected.
Xandria’s all too short set ends on ‘The Lost Elysion’ – an indulgent guitar-fest for main songwriter Marco.
The crowd has been engaged throughout, and the band takes a bow as if closing a headline gig.
Personally I wanted to hear ‘Forevermore’, and at least one song from the back catalogue, but we will have to wait for future tours, because tonight is all about the future. I was won over by the new Xandria in a live setting after finding Neverworld’s End a little too OTT, especially in one sitting, but tonight they changed that opinion with ease.
The Forum is still half full when Kamelot are due on, however the stage setup and lighting effects fill the unwelcome additional space. This space filling effect is further enhanced by new vocalist Tommy Karevik constantly using all available stage areas and standing on monitors at the front.
It is all choreographed and ‘pop’ even down to the outfit changes of the glamourous female ‘backing’ vocalists, (Alissa White-Gluz and Elize Ryd) perched up high at the back of the stage.
The sound was possibly off slightly in places because it was hard to recognise some songs, until partway though. It’s not like Tommy’s voice is very different to Roy Kahn’s, so I am guessing it was down to the sound, which was a shame. A lengthy set was padded out with both drum and keyboard solos and a cheesy script, giving the while affair the feel of a West End musical minus a storyline.
Things really got going with ‘Sacrimony (angel of afterlife)’ the standout song from latest album Silverthorn. The female vocalists were a bigger part of the whole performance than expected, and added to the on stage theatrics, particularly the duets between Eliza and Tommy.
Towards the end of the set Tommy thanks the audience for coming out, because they are far from home. They do look a tad tour weary but put on a top performance none the less. Then Tommy gets up close on personal with the crowd by singing from the photo pit. The punters deserve it for creating a lot of noise for smallish crowd. Kamelot barely need to act up for an encore because everyone is begging for more.
The change in lead vocalist has not made a dramatic difference to Kamelot’s live sound. However substituting Dimmu Bogir’s Shagrath with Blackguard’s Paul "Ablaze" Zinay for ‘March of Mephisto’, took away some energy, meaning the set ended on a personal dip. However not all was lost as attention was distracted by the two girls, who were now wearing wings and drumming away while flanking the boys.
Overall Kamelot maybe too pop and polished for a UK audience but they do what they do very well. The vocals could have been higher in the mix but Kamelot have a very produced sound which can be difficult to perfectly reproduce live.
Xandria probably stole the show overall and are one to look out for!
Rule the World
The Great Pandemonium
Center of the Universe
The Human Stain
Song for Jolee
When the Lights are Down
Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)
March of Mephisto