Well safe to say I’ve been a fan of Hammerfall since I was a teenager and this was the first time I’ve been able to see them so it’s easy to see why I was filled with excitement for this concert. After following the band for so long I guess I can say that my expectations were high before the gig. Well my expectations were frankly not met hearing Hammerfall; they were blown out of the water! Is it any wonder the band is still going strong 18 years later?
Well to kick things off were NeonFly. Unfortunately due to the interview with Hammerfall running late I missed half of their set, but from what I heard of the rest of the set I was impressed. They reminded me of an old school glam metal band and to my ears have a very steel panther-esque style of vocals with elements of heavier bands like Disturbed mixed in with the music style. Frankly I like the combination and they had a lot of energy. They certainly got the crowd going and raring to go for the next two bands. The lead singer Willy Norton has powerful vocals and a great stage presence which had real electricity about it. I couldn’t help but head bang to this band and I really do look forward to seeing them again in the future.
The second band to follow was Skarlett Riot. The crowd seemed to have a mixed opinion with some people liking them and other people really disliking them. However in my opinion I thought they were a great band and added a very lively bubbly element to their set. Their lead singer Skarlett has a great stage presence and just gave off a real passion for her vocals. The band synch well together and kept the energy of the crowd going. Their music was quite a contrast to both Hammerfall and NeonFly as both of these bands do have a lot of classic rock elements to them, whilst Skarlett Riot clearly cater to a more modern era of rock and metal. I felt this was a good contrast though as it was a way of encouraging lovers of classic style metal into the modern era styles. Although the crowd reaction was mixed and I got the general impression of them you either loved them or hated them, frankly in my opinion I thought they were a great band to throw into the mix and really added a unique flair to the venue.
Now we come to our headliners and the band that everyone was excited for; Hammerfall. There is no better experience than the moment the lights go off as the headliners are about to come on and Hammerfall were no exception. The excitement literally filled the air the crowd were chomping at the bit to see them walk out, which they did to a thunderous scream from the audience. The Swedish heavy metal band played a lot of great songs from the new album and plenty of classics including “Glory to the Brave” from their first album.
They frankly gave a show I simply won’t forget and kept the audience laughing along with them between songs. The band have a great chemistry and even had a laugh with the audience about the fact UPS didn’t deliver their merchandise in time for the gig. [NOTE – you can now order the shirts online! Mosh] They also are one of the best bands I’ve seen so far for getting the crowd involved. As an avid fan of going to see live bands there is nothing more than when a band gets the audience involved in their set rather than just play to them.
It was great hearing Joacim yell “Let the hammer …” and hearing the whole crowd roar back with “FALL!” The whole night was an amazing experience and it was great seeing one of the bands I spent my teen years listening to in person. Despite the fans being rather disappointed with the lack of Hammerfall merchandise, the band easily made up for it with their set and the energy they throw into their performance.
I can honestly say that I cannot wait for them to return for another UK concert and to anyone who hasn’t yet seen this band then be on the lookout for their next tour here as you will not be disappointed. Luckily I was able to interview Pontus and Fredrik before their set, so be sure to check out the audio from the interview which will be posted shortly.