with FIREWIND and FOREVER SLAVE
Islington Academy, London
4th April 2008
All live pics and review by HannTu
One of the front-runners of US Power Metal, Kamelot kicked off their second European tour in support of THE GHOST OPERA here in London. Billed as the Rule The World Tour 2008, this time they bring along guitar virtuoso Gus G and his band Firewind, who are perennial favourites here in London, and are always guaranteed a good reception. Opening for them are Forever Slave, a Spanish goth metal band, who stepped in to replace Visions of Atlantis at the last minute. Incidentally, the last time Kamelot were in London, Sean Tibbetts, standing in for regular bassist Glenn Barry, dislocated his knee. It gives a new meaning to the theatrical community’s phrase “Break a leg!”, so I’ll go for a simple “Good luck” tonight. And so, ladies and gentlemen and people at the front, welcome all to curtain call!
Hmmm. Think uninspired gothic metal, with dominatrix overtones, the only novelty being the full-length leather thing the singer was wearing and the slight hint of techno in their music. The riffs were nothing, the singing wasn’t great either – she had a squeaky (bordering on screechy) voice from what I remember. The only attraction was Lady Angellyca herself – she had the foxy temptress moves down to the ground! Between the slinky hip waggling and seductive butt shaking, I am willing to bet that not many people noticed the music either. Thankfully (or regrettably? I was torn – bad music but sexy chick, answers on a postcard please) they only played four songs, a less than 20 minute set, although they were scheduled to play 7 songs.
(don’t know which songs were played)
Dreams & Dust
This was my third time seeing them here in London, and the reception they get is always astounding. They always put on a balls-out and exciting show, and with the girls drooling over the dashing Greeks and the guys drooling over Gus G’s flashing fingers, it’s a good combo. With the number of Firewind shirts in the audience from the previous tour, I got the impression that the support act might have at least equalled the headliners in terms of fans.
They kicked off with ‘Into The Fire’ and ‘Head Up High’. Although the mix sounded okay from the photo pit, it sounded awful when I moved out back later. I couldn’t hear Bob’s guitar over Gus’ guitar, Petro’s bass and Mark’s drums. Apollo’s voice seemed way too far back, and weak. It was a pity because the band looked in fine form and really energetic. Gus’ guitar solos drew audible oohs and aahs from the audience, while Bob matched him on both keys and guitars. Apollo isn’t a great singer, but he’s pretty dynamic and he led the crowd in chanting, clapping, including a bit of the old “whoah” echo game. Mark Cross brought some great humour to the proceedings, including blowing an airhorn at the end of ‘The Silent Code’, and playing with LED tipped drum sticks, which I must say made his stick twirls look pretty damn impressive!
For ‘Warrior’, Apollo had to rely on a printed lyric sheet taped to one of the monitors. Incidentally, while I was taking a photo of the setlist (can’t rely on memory these days), security tapped me on the shoulder and told me to stop it. I was surprised (and pissed off), but when I checked my camera later, I found that the lyrics to ‘Warrior’ had been taped next to the setlist. Come on Apollo, nothing to be ashamed of! You didn’t write the damn song, it was from the first album BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL, you weren’t even in the band yet! I found it quite amusing, like I said, no shame in singing from a lyric sheet. Even Rob Halford does it from time to time.
The intro to ‘Falling to Pieces’ got a great reception and the crowd started bouncing and singing, drawing grins from the band. Bob relinquished his guitar to focus on his keyboards for the closer, the intensely catchy ‘Mercenary Man’. Apollo toasted the crowd for making their first night on tour a special experience, which was rather nice. I always enjoy Firewind, they mix up good rocking fun with good rocking tunes, and it helps that the band are enthusiastic and personable. I saw Apollo come out to watch Kamelot during their set, I reckon he’s still a fan at heart. I have no doubts that were Firewind to headline at bigger venues that they would pull the crowds.
Into the Fire
Head Up High
I Am The Anger
The Silent Code
Falling To Pieces
Kamelot has always been regarded very highly by power metal fans seeking a bit more ‘epic’ and a bit less ‘happy’. I must admit to never having gotten too much into this band, as evidenced by my review of THE GHOST OPERA last year. However, looking back, my review was way too harsh when I was listening to the album again in preparation for the gig. It’s a very good album, just took a bit of time to sink in. Consider this review an atonement for my sins. THE FOURTH LEGACY and BLACK HALO remain my favourite Kamelot albums though.
As the lights descended into total darkness, a tall beautiful female stepped out into the middle of the stage and proceeded to play the violin intro of ‘Solitaire’. She later turned out to be backing vocalist as well, but we weren’t told her name unfortunately. ‘Rule The World’ got a raucous reception with Roy Khan striding the stage with absolute confidence and belting out the lines. He’s a pretty awe-inspiring frontman, and he has the habit of standing on the monitors as if attempting to transcend the barrier between him and the crowd. In doing so, he towers majestically over us as we fall under the spell of his voice.
Two songs from THE BLACK HALO follow, and Roy claims that this is the first time they’ve played ‘Pendulous Fall’ live, a World Premiere, he calls it (and not the last of the night either). “Okay, we’re gonna slow it down now”, and ‘Abandoned’ begins with the piano intro, to which the crowd starts clapping in time. A few isolated lighters make an appearance, while Roy shows off the range and dynamicism of his voice. The girls in the crowd are melting…And it’s the boys’ turn when the female singer starts her turn. Vocals-wise this was the performance of the night, along with…okay I won’t spoil it for you, read on.
It’s too bad the sound was pretty crap from where I was standing. Thomas Youngblood’s guitars were pretty weak sounding and could really only be heard when he was soloing. His riffs seemed to dissolve into the wall of bass and drums. Even Roy wasn’t easily heard over everything else. It’s such a shame, as his rich voice really deserves a good mix. A song like ‘Abandoned’ showed what he was truly capable of.
‘The Human Stain’ capped the first half of the show. While Roy left the stage, the rest of the band kept warm by having a jam session, starting with a flash solo by Tom. Keyboards then drums took their turn. Roy comes back to kick off the second half, beginning with the fourth BLACK HALO song of the evening, ‘Serenade’, which is also the second World Premiere of the night! Wonderful. It’s an uptempo number showing off Roy’s upper registers, and he just about kicks ass.
Next up was the ‘Elizabeth’ trilogy, all 11 minutes of it, prompting emotional singing from Roy and some enthusiastic air guitar from eager members of the audience. The band took a break, leaving keyboardist Oliver to entertain the crowd. Well, it sounded like piano lounge music anyway. ‘Forever’ was made memorable by the crowd singing the lead guitar intro line, and then singing their hearts out some more during the chorus. Would they have any voice left by the end of the night? At the end, Roy challenged the crowd to a bit of a singalong. “Are you ready for some singing? Are you ready to lift this building off the ground?” Impossible vocal range for the hoarse crowd, who sang gamely anyway.
The third World Premiere of the night, ‘Edenecho’ was accompanied by the lovely violin player. The band left the stage, but the stamping, catcalls, whistles and cheering brought them back out again, for “Ghost Opera” which got backing vocals from both the violinist and the deafening audience. ‘Karma’ was the penultimate song, and no Kamelot show is complete without ‘March of Mephisto’, with Shagrath’s vocals on a backing track. It was an overall great performance from the band, and though some of the crowd were unhappy with the no-camera policy, I doubt any of them left with anything other than satisfaction last night.
Rule The World
When The Lights Are Down
Descent of the Archangel
The Human Stain
March of Mephisto