As with the last album, Dragonforce are treating fans to a series of intimate, small-scale shows around the time of release of Maximum Overload. I’d expect them to come back around in a few months playing larger venues, but in the meantime it’s nice to catch them somewhere where you can almost feel the heat from Herman’s wrist muscles as he pummels that guitar.
Advertised support were StormBorn – their name was even on the chalkboard on the way into King Tut’s – but for some reason they weren’t on the bill tonight. Instead, we got NeonFly which contains one Andy Midgley, a former member of PowerQuest, who split a short while ago, and who played guitar for former Dragonforce vocalist ZP’s IamI project. Well, if there’s one thing for sure it’s that Andy likes his power metal! [correction due to cockup spotted by NeonFly and due to me starting this review while sleep-deprived! Thanks, guys :) – Mosh]
The band’s name were on the chalkboard by the time I left the gig and, although it’s not exactly “in lights”, it’s the least they deserve after a very impressive opening slot.
The first thing I thought as I went up the stairs – the band were already on stage as the lengthy queue was being dealt with – was that there was a female-fronted band opening. Erm, apologies to front man Willy Norton, but please take it as a compliment. His vocal range is staggering, which became apparent as their set progressed. Those high notes were equally matched by more traditional metal vocals. Add in his accent and I don’t think it’s unfair to compare him to a certain well known Iron Maiden singer.
As a band, their songs are good and they’ve got excellent stage presence. They managed to cram quite a lot of tracks into their set, and there were some damn catchy numbers in amongst them.
With one album already out and another dropping at the start of December, NeonFly are very much one to look out for.
Dragonforce, though, were the band that most were here to see and they strode on stage – led by new drummer Gee Anzalone – and launched into opener “Defenders” from the recently released Maximum Overload.
Indeed, half the set was tracks from the new album with the rest of their back-catalogue being represented by a single song from each album. As a result, if you hadn’t already heard Maximum Overload – and I confess I hadn’t – then it took the edge off things a little.
The band seemed to take a little while to get going, as did the crowd, but this could partly be put down to the stifling heat which Marc Hudson did mention at one point during the set. There was little motion amongst the faithful (a couple of minor pits broke out maybe twice), but the fists in the air and roars of approval should have been enough to convince the lad on stage that they were very much welcome to continue with each song.
From what was my first experience of four or five of the songs, the new stuff sounds a bit heavier than their older material and Marc’s vocals have something to do with that. I’m going to put the album on in the car later to see how my initial impression matches up with the recorded version, but if so then it’s good to see/hear that new blood is influencing the sound somewhat. That’s what keeps bands going and not just regurgitating the same material album after album.
There’s no doubt that the older material was more well-received, but that’s almost always the case at a gig until everyone gets more familiar with it. Fury of the Storm, Cry Thunder and Through the Fire and Flames will never lose their appeal. I guess, with time, we’ll find out which of the newer songs get to take their long-term place alongside them.
A typically energetic encore saw us through to the end of the gig where Marc invited fans to meet the band at the merch stall for a beer and the like – something that too many bands are charging a premium price for these days. Unfortunately, due to a baby-daughter-induced 3 hours of sleep the previous night, I had to head home. But don’t think that such a gesture isn’t appreciated.