Marillion and Chantel McGregor – Cambridge Junction Sep 17th 2012

Marillion have had some good support acts in the past but I’ve never seen one as great as Chantel McGregor

Chantel McGregor live at the Cambridge Junction 2012

Ok I was a bit excited when the night before the gig I saw that she was the support for the evening after already owning her fabulous Like No Other album.  A cheeky smile and audience banter fill the short gaps between the rocky blues songs – but there is more here than great tunes, the truly massive sound she gets from her guitar, fast finger work that looks effortless and I’d imagine anyone watching this would be inspired to want to pick up a six string and give it a go.

Chantel McGregor at the Cambridge Junction

From hard rock to slow blues – a fantastic set displaying amazing musicianship and true to the first track on the debut album tonight Chantel McGregor is Fabulous.  The venue is packed and everyone captivated – you could have easily walked in and though she was the headliner.

Marillion live at the Cambridge Junction 2012

But there is more to come!  GCSEs, A-levels, University, working life – for the last 20+ years of my life I feel I have somewhat grown up with Marillion.  Tonight they start off with Gaza – the epic new track, I like Marillion when they rock out and this track is full of it.  Track two This Town is a personal favourite for me – a regular on my walkman from the cassette era.  New album tracks Power and title track Sounds that Can’t Be Made also feature in the set alongside live favourites (for me) You’re Gone, Great Escape and Fantastic Place.

Tonight their lighting rig is probably about as big as you can fit into the Cambridge Junction – blinding at times forcing you to close your eyes and enjoy the great sounds to the mix of colours.  The venue is more packed (and hot) than I have ever seen it before – reportively this is the only sold out gig on the venues calendar.

Marillion live at the Cambridge Junction 2012

Who just asked for Grendel?

Finishing the set we are treated to not just Sugar Mice – but Garden Party as well.  With Fish era tracks being a rarity in Marillion sets this I think is especially for Cambridge with the references to punting on the Cam.

Thank you Marillion, and thank you Chantel McGregor.  And after watching this I feel inspired again to pick up a dust collecting six string of my own!

Orestea and To The Lions at Portland Arms 24th August 2011

Orestea live at the Cambridge Portland Arms August 2011

The tunes are catchy – “We can be Ruthless, we can be flawless, we can do anything” –  Those were the words still going through my head when I woke up the next day after the great gig from Orestea and To the Lions at the Cambridge Portland Arms.

To the Lions live at the Cambridge Portland Arms

To the Lions were on the bill last time Orestea played this venue and it was great to see them play together again.  Full of energy they delivered a set that punched much harder than you’d expect from a band third on the bill of a venue this size.  A foundation of old school metal mixed with a bit of Sepultura, maybe some Korn and some death growls but backed with pure talent, fast sharp riffs and complex rhythms.  We get new song Breathe, but sadly not their excellent cover of Love Gun.

To the Lions Live at the Cambridge Portland Arms 2011

It’s a short set but relentlessly heavy.  On the web there appear to be a few bands of this name so these are the URLs you need http://tothelions.co.uk/ and  http://www.reverbnation.com/tothelions

Next up Sondura and I was expecting heavy from their logo.  I wasn’t disappointed and they delivered 30 minutes of melody heavy straight metal.  The busy venue by this point was sweltering with heat, time to grab another beer, another midsummer madness.

Orestea live at the Portland Arms Cambridge  Orestea live at the Portland Arms Cambridge

Orestea were the band I’d come to see tonight and by the time they hit the stage shortly after 10, as I was looking down into my third pint of midsummer madness.  Great beer!   They have a musical talent that is amazing to see at a band that I imagine is still at it’s genesis.  A heavy background with Lisa’s vocals slightly softening the heavy blow of the music resulting in a dynamite sound.   Made me think of how Alanis Morisette would sound if she was backed by Machine Head’s rhythm section.  Guitarists Lloyd Wilson and Luke Genders rock with complex finger work whilst Will Crozier pounds away in the background and Mike Quinn holds solid rhythm down but they seem restricted by the size of the stage for a 5 piece.  We get a selection from their recent “Love lines and Blood Ties” album which is fairly instantly cathy metal music.

Orestea live at the portland Arms Cambridge

Ruthless is a radio friendly anthem and I hope it does them well – dare I even call it pop-metal.  It was only five months since they last played this venue on an epic UK tour of the clubs – hard working they definitely are and I hope it pays off to see them headline larger stages.

Orestea: http://www.orestea.com/

To The Lions: http://tothelions.co.uk/

Sondura: http://www.myspace.com/sondura

High Voltage 2011 – Thunder, Mostly Autumn & Anathema, Heaven’s Basement

Mostly Autumn live at High Voltage  Anathema live at High Voltage  Heaven's Basement - live at High Voltage

My first High Voltage festival – and third weekend of Rock, starting with Sonisphere, then the Histon Billfest and now on my way to Mile End Tube for High Voltage.  The previous two weekends had raised the bar pretty high, but the line up over the next two days was packed with quality acts.

Leaving Mile End the website had said a 10 minute walk to Victoria Park – I walk quick so beforehand I translated that to a two minute walk around the corner, but true to the word it was a decent walk of probably just shy of a mile by the time you’d reached the gates.  Entrance was fast and simple – for a festival the fastest I’ve ever experienced.  And friendly too, not something you get much at large events.

First up Michael Monroe was doing his thing on the main stage – he seems to work on a festival sized stage better than that of s small venue and for the one song I saw he was great.  And then to the Metal Hammer stage where Attica Rage were making a decent heavy racket.

Grand Magus - High Voltage signing

Grand Magus are at the HMV stand early afternoon so I use the rare opportunity to get them to sign a couple of CD sleeves I’d brought with me (I’m such a metal dork) – but they rock, and they will deafen me with their riffs later.

Anathema live at High Voltage

On the prog stage were one of my favourite bands even though I’ve only seen then live once before – Anathema.  There is a moving moment when Dreaming Light is dedicated to the terrible events in Norway the day before.  They capture an atmospheric sound and the set is largely from their last album – a long way from their death metal days  -the set and musicianship stunning with each song an epic masterpiece.

Thin Lizzy live at High Voltage

On the main stage Thin Lizzy appear to be playing at a quieter volume that you’d expect this afternoon – but their music doesn’t really on headbanging loudness for effect.    A young lady asks if she can sit on my shoulders but I decline, at over 6ft myself I’d block out the view for a large triangle behind me, but she is soon up there on another chap and appearing on the big screen herself.  Michael Monroe is the special guest for dancing in the moonlight on sax.

Thin Lizzy with Michael Monroe live at High Voltage

I never saw Lizzy with Phil Lynott, but Ricky Warwick makes an excellent substitute – loyal but with his own take on the songs, and Macro is superb on the bass.  They’re back in  the UK early next year so I’ve purchased my ticket.

Neal Morse live at High Voltage

Neal Morse was the surprise hit of the day.  I found myself strangely drawn to the prog stage several times and although I don’t know a single song he’s done (not even Spocks Beard) his set was enchanting – I later check the HMV tent for his material but they have none.  Neil jumps into the audience and sings in a circuit of the crowd with camera capturing the whole event, his band was pretty huge and filled the stage and the sound was just as large.  The Internet awaits for me to check out his stuff.

Slash at High Voltage

On the main stage it’s Slash belting out Rocket Queen, I’m a fair way back as you’ll see from my snap but I liked the silhouette on the big screens captured in the pic.  I miss the end of his set to get down to the Metal Hammer stage for something heavier.

Grand Magus live at High Voltage Grand Magus live at High Voltage

I witness Grand Magus setting up on the metal hammer stage before the metal really begins.  At times slow paced, heavy swedish metal – for a trio the sound is epic.  The themes are heroic and so is the music, Hammer of the North…  The crowd is the largest I see at the Metal Hammer stage all weekend – I’m happy that I’ve finally seen them live.

Day Two – Today would be busy – lots of clashes and minutes between great artists but first up Heaven’s Basement.

heaven's Basement live at High Voltage Heaven's Basement liev at High Voltage

They rocked as Hurricane Party, they totally rocked as Roadstar, they were awesome as Heaven’s Basement but this was the first time I’d seen them in a couple of years and the lineup had changed severely – lots of new faces but the same high octane rock’n’roll attitude was in abundance.  The crowd thickened very quickly around the front and HB shirts were all over.  I wish they’d play the title track RoadStar – such a classic and probably one of the songs that I’ve never not had on my ipod nano.  What I can’t work out about Heaven’s Basement is after years of quality gigs why are they first on the bill?  If any band deserve to get to the next level it’s them.

the Treatment live at High Voltage The Treatment live at High Voltage

I said today was tight and now it was straight down to the Metal Hammer stage for new band The Treatment – I’d read reviews that were good but not yet heard this new band, as they are reportively from Cambridge I was keen to check them out.  They rocked – they could have been Heaven Basement’s younger brothers, and they drew an impressive crowd, Cambridge’s very own Motley Crue.

Over at the HMV signing tent Black Spiders were scribbling on CDs – I got them to deface my Son of the North Cd before going up to the main stage to catch Saint Jude.  never heard of her, but what a great performance, slightly jazzy slow rock, perfect chill out for a day in the sun.

Moris Dancing at High Voltage

There’s more than just music at High Voltage – there is Morris Dancing, slightly gothic style.  And real ale – the fact that the real ale tent always appears rammed and the lager tents look empty should be a good indicator that more real ale at rock gigs is good!

Gentlemen’s Pistols are on the Metal Hammer stage with a guitarist that looks familiar – it’s Bill Steer or Firebird!  Another quality band belting out heavy bluesy old style rock.  The sun is burning the back of my neck, but who cares, this rocks.  And then it’s down to the prog stage for an act I’ve always been told are great live but I’d never seen.

Mostly Autumn live at High Voltage Mostly Autumn live at High Voltage

Mostly Autumn – a colleague (Pete) had told me for a long time that I need to see this band live, and he was right.  Awesome performance, seriously prog – the music was intense, multidimensional soundscapes.  When Olivia came onto the stage and every camera or mobile phone in the crowd was raised to capture the moment.  I find myself torn – this band should have been on the main stage, and I want to stay for the whole set, but I can purchase it on CD and something explosive is about to happen on the main stage, something I never thought I’d see again, something that was the initial sole reason for my coming this weekend.

Thunder live at High Voltage

You’ve been Thunderstruuuuuck – the killer intro music for the greatest band in British rock.  Entering the stage to Backstreet Symphony Thunder are the band that should never have split, they rule.  During Back Street Symphony the PA cuts out a couple of times, but the audience sing to meet the audio levels – who cares, it’s Thunder and they are on stage.  Every song in the all to short set is a classic, the Devil Made Me Do it, Gimme Some Loving.  Guitars are above heads and Thunder shirts at todays festival are probably only outnumbered by Jethro Till Shirts.  Signalong classics, I decide to go and sit back on the grass in the sun and enjoy one of the finest rock bands from a distance.

I miss the Black Spiders as I just couldn’t miss Thunder, but it says something about the volume of the Metal Hammer stage that Blood of the Kings came bouncing up the hill.

High Voltage Crowd

High Voltage was possibly the best festival I’ve attended – the smoothness of entry, the quality of the food stands, the people there, the vibe, the fact that they had cleaning gell near the convenience facilities and last but definitely not least, I didn’t see a single band that I walked away from.  It was quality throughout, and reintroduced me to some bands that have led me to go online and order some Mostly Autumn and Neal Morse CDs.  Mostly Autumns performance lead me to buy a Sunday ticket for next weekends Cambridge Rock Festival.

Links

Mostly Autumn – http://www.mostly-autumn.com/

Anathema – http://www.anathema.ws/

Heaven’s Basement – http://heavensbasement.com/

Grand Magus – http://www.grandmagus.com/

High Voltage the Festival- http://www.highvoltagefestival.com/

Sonisphere 2011 – Anthrax, Arch Enemy and Motorhead

Motorhead live at Sonisphere Knebworth 2011

Friday 8th of July – Thrax, Megadeth and Diamond Head

Sonisphere 2011 – and I find myself back in the queue for buses at Stevenage station amongst the metal masses.  The queue is big, and despite there being several buses packing the fans up and whisking them away to the festival as quickly as possible the waiting time is around an hour.  But spirits are good – music is playing from out loud from smartphones, and there is a collection of metal shirts from gigs gone by.  There are loads of bands playing Sonisphere so I’ve only written about a few that I wanted to write about.

Diamond Head Live at Sonisphere

The one thing Friday could have done with is some earlier bands – but what a band to kick a festival off with at 3pm, Diamond Head..  They rocked, the Prince, Helpless, Am I Evil, Metallica may have boosted the audience for these songs but it’s great to hear them from Brian Tatler’s band, superb.

Joey from Anthrax live at Sonisphere 2011 Knebworth

Anthrax followed – three years at Knebworth park now – for three years just seeing one band listed on the bill has made me want to attend.  Thrax.  And today its a limited edition thrax with Andreas Kisser replacing Scott Ian whilst Scott takes time out with his new arrival.  What a great version of thrax to see – when else would you get to see Thrax with Andreas playing some Sepultura!

Frankie Bello live at Sonisphere 2011 

This was a great performance,  being a Bush era fan for years I never thought I’d see them as such an awesome band again with Joey up front.  Fight Em is the new track, Only is the Bush era track, Madhouse is as classic as ever.

Dave Mustaine Megadeth Sonisphere 2011

Next up Megadeth, and Dave Elfeson is back , Dave Mustaine with a cool flying V double neck and they pound through the classics, Wake up Dead, Holy Wars, Symphony of Destruction, In my Darkest Hour, a Toute le Monde.  One song I’ve always wanted to see Megadeth play live is Mary Jane, we didn’t get it and I didn’t expect to, it didn’t matter as they rocked. And we get a new song from their next album, I miss the title but I think it was Public Enemies.

Black Breath Sonisphere 2011 Knebworth

After being down the front of this huge crowd  for three awesome bands I went to get some space rather than hanging around for Slayer, something was happening at the Jagermeister stage so that was my next chosen destination, Black Breath were about to hit the stage.  A great thing about Sonisphere is that you can walk into unexpected gems, last year it was Audrey Horne, this year Black Breath.  Very heavy metal from Seattle, singer Nate McAdams pointed out “you’re all here and you could be watching Slayer, but we thank you for being here”.  Awesome.

I went for a wander after Black Breath’s all too short 30 minute set was over, time for an ice cream.

Sonisphere Knebworth Crowd 2011  Sonisphere Knebworth Crowd 2011

Have you ever experienced the power of Slayer from 500m?  Ever heard the Raining Blood riff thudding across a field?  I hadn’t, wow that band are powerful, it’s even more haunting from a distance than close up.  I continue to wander round the tends but I don’t get into all of the music here, lots do.

Saturday 9th July – Duxford instead

 Lancaster Bomber from BBM5 Duxford 2011 

Saturday I missed, I fancied going to the Duxford Air Show for a different form of loud heavy metal!  That was followed by an evening at our villages Feast event listening to a cover band.  I missed the Black Spiders but High Voltage in two weeks.

Sunday 10th July – Arch Enemy and Motorhead

Back to Stevenage station for the bus queue.  There was a smell in the air as I got off the coach at Knebworth, a smell familiar to those who live near fields that have natural products spread on them, the smell of a festival 3 days mature.

Volbeat live at SONISPHERE Knebworth

First up, I want to see Arch Enemy but before them Volbeat take to the stage.  Who?  Volbeat – lucky find number two at the festival.  Punk meets Almighty meets Motorhead – these guys as main stage openers were an awesome start to the day.  We even get blasts of Slayer and Motorhead during their set.  I didn’t expect much, I was wrong, they rocked.

Arch Enemy live at Knebworth

The crowd thickened for Arch Enemy, were they too low on the bill?  In their Khaos Legions leathers that rock the main stage and makes the mosh pits that I avoid swirl.  Angela Gossow prowling round the stage, we hear that they’ve had no sleep since playing Sonisphere Sweden yesterday, but the show is still high energy.

Arch Enemy Live at Knebworth - Angela Gossow Arch Enemy live at Knebworth - Michael Amott

Michael Amott shreds away, guitarists in the crowd watching in awe .  Genuinely intense, awesome.

After this there weren’t many bands I had on my list for a couple of hours so I joined the queue at the Arch  Enemy signing tent, did I need them to write their names down for me?  Probably not, but I had time so why not, and it was cool to shake their hands.

Sonsiphere Crowd Knebworth 2011

Next up I find myself in the Bohemia tent for some comedy which was brilliant – no idea who the comedian was (thought that Justice was Tallica’s last decent album), it left time for a slice of Pizza before the most exciting new band from down under were about to come on.

Airbourne Live at Knebworth 2011 Sonisphere

Airborne leapt onto the Apollo stage as if they’d just been let loose – running across the stage like  animals just released from a cage.  If they were a band to play songs with the riff’age and charisma of ACDC without being ACDC it’s airbourne.  Rock’n’roll swagger and riff’s a plenty, the crowd this was pretty thick.

Motorhead Live at Knebworth

The final act I was really looking forward to seeing – Motorhead.  Lemmy came onto the stage and had the sad announcement that Wurzel had died this weekend.  If there was one band member I’d have liked to have seen join a band it would be Wurzel rejoining Motorhead – when i got into Motorhead (mid eighties) he was their axe man alongside Phil, he was the first rock star guitarist I’d seen live (with Motorhead at the Corn Exchange).  There was an initial gasp and a massive cheer when Lemmy dedicated the set to him.

Motorhead Knebworth with Fire Dancer Sonisphere

Motorhead as ever were perfect, fantastic lyrics and solid rock’n’roll tunes, in a hour long set we get all the classics and the best, One night stand, Going to brazil, and the awesome Get Back In Line from their last album.  For Killed By Death they are joined by fire breathing dancers – very rock.  Motorhead are loud perfection.

My feet hurt by this point – I’d been up on them most of the weekend.  After Motorhead’s performance nothing could top that, my Sonisphere was done, I was happy.  Will I be back next year – well, I’ll look for decent bands on he lineup, but 3 ourt of 3 Sonisphere’s have been great so far.

Sonisphere: www.sonispherefestivals.com

Motorhead: www.imotorhead.com

Arch Enemy: http://www.archenemy.net/

Anthrax:  http://www.anthrax.com

Diamond Head: http://www.diamond-head.net/

Duxford War Museum: http://www.iwm.org.uk/duxford

Black Spiders – Cambridge Haymakers – 10/5/2011

Black Spiders live at the Cambridge Haymakers

I got a bit held up before the gig tonight so to get there mean’t driving (and as a consequence no ale – d’oh) – the haymakers car park was a bit rammed as you’d imagine but I found an empty layby just down the road.

First up Federal Black , the bass is up loud and in my ear but they sort that soon and they play a storming 30 minute set.  There music was straight heavy rock – reminded me of early Almighty shows, and they had some awesome guitar Quo’esque guitar moves with big grins.

Japanese Voyeurs live at the Cambridge Haymakers 10/5/2011

Following Federal Black are Japanese Voyeurs and standing with one ear almost on the PA it’s kind of loud, too loud – I move, that’s better.  metal edged annoyed grungy PJ Harvey with frequent headbanging.   They power through an all to short 30 minute set

I first saw the Black Spiders as a support act at the Cambridge Junction – they became my new favourite band after that one set, the ultimate in heavy rock’n’roll – and possibly alongside Pythia as the most exciting new band I’ve heard for years.  They put out a few EPs that were just tasters before the awesome Sons of the North CD, so having the chance to see them in Cambridge tonight was a chance not to be missed.

Black Spiders live at the Cambridge Haymakers  Black Spiders live at the Cambridge Haymakers

Stay Down with its audience participation, fingers in the air and just complete rock attitude comes second in the set tonight, there’s a track that’s been on my ipod for the last year and just calls out for having the volume turned up whilst listening to.

Black Spiders live at the Cambridge Haymakers   Black Spiders live at the Cambridge Haymakers

On stage they are explosive – being restricted to the small stage is no problem to them, guitars are being thrown in all directions for the whole set, standing on the amps Pete Spiby almost vanishes into the ceiling whilst guitarist Ozzy Lister ventures out into the crowd.

We sing KISS’s Black Diamond – only it isn’t a diamond we’re singing about, “ooooh, black spider”.  Kiss get a great song “KISS tried to kill me” all about a bizarre dream involving Gene and Paul but it “wasn’t Ace’s fault“.

Black Spiders live at the Cambridge Haymakers

Just like a woman is dedicated to the women in the crowds by Ozzy Lister to celebrate his “15th” birthday.  Blood of the Kings with its high tempo almost bouncing chorus is the ultimate in high octane metal.  Drummer Tiger Si pulls faces like a crazy animal and between songs is hanging onto the ceiling and surveying the audience to ensure that everyone is participating and enjoying themselves.

Stay Down there’s a brand new force in town” from their classic Stay Down sums it up – the Black Spiders rock and are probably the most exciting new band you could hope to see live right now.  They have big beards, rock’n’roll attitude, a fine set of hard rocking tunes and did I mention big beards?  The next day my ears were ringing – it was worth it.

Black Spiders:  http://www.theblackspiders.com/

Japanese Voyeurs:  http://www.myspace.com/japanesevoyeurs/music

Federal Black: http://www.myspace.com/federalblack40rock

Video for Just Like A Woman – Go on – check them out!!

Firebird – Cambridge Portland Arms – 5/5/2011

Firebird live at the Portland Arms Cambridge

The first great thing about going to gigs at the Portland Arms in Cambridge is the short bus ride to the venue, the second is the great ales they sell and the third is that they manage to attract some really great bands.  Tonight’s trip was to see Firebird – heavy bluesy jam style rock from an all star band fronted up by Carcass grindcore legend Bill Steer.  Carcass’s Descanting the Insalubrious was a well played record during my youth – at the time we were searching for the most extreme metal and Carcass were the most extreme we could find, but tonight couldn’t be further away from that.

Buzzard King live at the Portland Arms Cambridge

Firs up we have Snakerama for some slow metal with deathly growls from frontman Gaz – dirty and heavy stoner rock.  Following Snakearama Buzzard King take to the stage for another session of heavy stoner with a more classic rock feel to many cheers from the crowd.

Bill Steer live with Firebird at the Portland Arms Cambridge

Firebird’s set kicks off with For Crying Out Loud from the Double Diamond album – galloping classic rock blues bass lines and the great lyric “But for cying out loud you won’t change me“.  The latest album Double Diamond gets a fair few songs in the set – Soul Saviour, Bright Lights, Ruined and we get a new song Bird on a Wire which is tonight available on 7″ vinyl.

Firebird live at the Portland Arms Cambridge

The music was  Zeppelin meets Cream, Purple even faint shades of very iron maiden ( or at least image a mellow version of Prowler) – Firebird are a pounding three piece.  The audience, chilled out supping file ales and cheering enthusiastically.  There was no devil horns, no moshing just appreciative head nodding and foot tapping.

Bill Steer played an old style Les Paul for the whole set, Greyum May (ex Ozric Tentacles) with an Gibson SG bass and Ludwig Witt (Spiritual Beggars) pounding his drums looking vaguely like Ginger – I wonderred if this is what it would have been like to have seen the likes of Cream in 70s.  As a guitarist Bill is an awesome player, but there is no posing muppetry, just a broad happy smile

Firebird live at the Portland Arms Cambridge

Sipping a couple of Abbot ales and watching this band slide through an hour set was a pleasure.  I got my digital camera out to take a couple of snaps for this blog and it felt totally out of place, it was the only one I could see in the room – I think it would have been more appropriate had it have contained a 35mm film.  For the final jam of the night Bill Steer puts down his guitar and plays the harmonica.  We get an encore – and for the first time ever in my 21 years of going to gigs it felt like a genuine unplanned encore in response to the crowds enthusiasm and they got back up to play a unprepared song.  I leave with a vinyl copy of Double Diamond, A great night.

Firebird Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/firebirdblues

Firebird on RiseAboveRecord (where you can buy their vinyl!): http://www.riseaboverecords.com/artists/riseabove/firebird/

Buzzard King: http://www.myspace.com/buzzardking

Snakearama: http://www.myspace.com/snakeramarocks

Serenity and Delain – London 02 Academy – 30/4/2011

Delain live at the O2 Academy London

First time for me tonight at the 02 Academy Islington, not far from the Angel tube station where I join the reasonably young metal crowd queue queuing past the shopping complex.  It’s early doors tonight and early curfew tonight – this is a combination I like as it means getting back to Cambridge at a decent hour.  So from 6:30 we weave into the venue and on entering the 02 the first thing that hit me was the size – it looked very small for tonight’s line-up calibre – I’m guessing probably only 750 capacity.

Lost In Thought - London 02 Academy London

Opening the evening are Lost in Thought – melodic progressive metal with a singer who’s almost air raid siren force vocals really stand out.  Their material is unfamiliar but they set the scene well.

Serenity live at the London 02 Academy 2011
The first band I was here to see tonight was Austrians Serenity on the strength of their Death & Legacy CD I had a feeling they’d be pretty awesome live.   Tonight in an all to short set  we are taken on a fast galloping musical race through gothic history with a band that look as if they are straight from the 18th century’s upper class.

Serenity live at the London 02 Academy 2011

I read a comment recently that there won’t be any more great rock frontmen of the likes of Bruce Dickinson or Steven Tyler, tonight Serenity’s George Neuhauser proves that wrong as he commands the crowd with awesome vocal talent and a huge stage presence.  Rarely can a support band get the a crowd so pumped up with fist in the air punching.  With huge high octane symphonic choruses the band are grinning, the crowd is grinning and something that you don’t normally see at rock gigs – the security is grinning.  We are even treated to Lisa Middelhauve (Xandria) joining the band on stage for a couple of numbers including Serenade of Flames.

Serenity live at the London 02 Academy 2011
I only have one Serenity CD and I wish in hindsight I’d used the merch stand opportunity top buy another, still that’s what great about the web.  With the collision of symphony and metal Serenity are definitely one of the finest bands I’ve seen.

Delain's Charlotte Wessels live at the London 02 Academy 2011 Delain's Charlotte Wessels live at the London 02 Academy 2011 Delain's Charlotte live at the 02 Academy London 2011

Most people are here tonight for headliners Delain – after their triumphant set at last years Sonisphere I was keen to see them again.  Their crew turn the stage round in a very short period and the lights dim before 9pm for their grand entrance.  The band kick off and there is a huge cheer and arms in the air when Charlotte hits the stage  every mobile phone in the house seems to be in the air to capture a snap of the moment.  She she pretty much has the audience within her hand for the entire show.

Delain's Rob live at the London 02 Academy 2011With just a couple of albums and not a bad track on them, tonight has the enthusiastic feeling of a greatest hits set – each song greeted with a huge cheer and sounding like a classic.  New guitarist Timo Summers is rocking stage left tonight and in a very metal moment bassist Rob Van Der Loo stands on the front box to be blasted by smoke.

We get new tracks –  Devil out of me(?) – a heavy pounding metal anthem and another very dark one that didn’t have a title but for tonight they called it Honey.  For sure the new album will be tops.

So I head back to Cambridge – what a great night of symphonic metal in London.

Delain:  http://site.delain.nl/

Serenity: http://www.serenity-band.com/

Lisa Middelhauve: http://www.myspace.com/mikroschnepfe

Lost In Thought: http://www.myspace.com/officiallostinthought