As far as bad ideas go, having gig venues inside shopping centres is up there with the worst. There’s nothing like sterile lighting, elevator-style music, and Pret A Manger to kill any kind of pre-gig buzz.
Fortunately, from the moment their top hat and kilt sporting keyboardist bounces on stage, Methodica do everything they can to bring some much needed atmosphere to proceedings. Their sound is ethereal, melodic, and massive. Their virtuoso bassist brings an immense but not inaccessible technicality, thunderous drumming punctuates the heavier moments, and their powerhouse vocalist compliments the wailing solos perfectly. That distinctly Italian melodic metal sound permeates their soundscape, making it impossible not to smile and sway with their hooks and melodies (and keyboard solos). The tepid Sunday night crowd be damned: this is a stellar set from an ambitious and, most of all, fun band.
Amping up the fun are California’s Archer Nation. This thrash metal trio win absolutely no points for originality, but you should be too busy grinning and headbanging through their set to care. In the vein of Lost Society, Blackened Ritual, Terror Drone, and the rest of the denim n’ hi-tops aficionados destroying stages worldwide just now, this is a loving homage to eighties Bay Area thrash. These lads have nailed the galloping riffs, ripping solos, and breakneck pace, and deliver them in a tight set, peppered with just the right amount of knowing campness. But despite all this, the crowd only seem to get excited when they whip out a storming cover of Megadeth’s ‘Tornado of Souls’. Headlining the right show, these lads would make for a brilliantly retro night out.
We’re not sure whether it’s the heat, the fact it’s a Sunday night, or the aforementioned atmosphere-killing location of the venue, but this crowd really don’t seem to be feeling it. In fact, it takes Queensrÿche whipping out the big guns in the form of a storming ‘Operation Mindcrime’ before this really feels like a proper heavy metal show. Following this with the underappreciated anthem ‘Best I Can’, the crowd are now in the palm of the band’s collective hand.
And yet, as soon as they’ve got them there, some punters slip out as the band move into the heavier sounds of 1994’s Promised Land. However, it’s during these heavier tracks, and especially offering’s from 2015’s Condition Hüman, that the band are at their most energetic. While these tunes just simply aren’t as good as the Operation Mindcrime or Empire numbers aired tonight, it’s with the newer songs that Queensrÿche deliver their best performances: a perhaps painful reminder for the diehard fans of their recent lineup changes.
That said, there’s no denying just how awesome their classic albums sound live, and witnessing the likes of ‘Empire’ and ‘The Mission’ is worth the ticket price alone. Their very early tracks, especially the NWOBHM-flavoured ‘Queen of the Reich’, are an absolute blast too.
Ultimately, despite a triumphant encore featuring the indomitable ‘Eyes Of A Stranger’, the rift between the crowd and the band prevents this from being the spectacular show which it has potential to be. At the end of the day, the crowd just want to hear Operation Mindcrime and Empire, while the band are desperate to show us what ” the one, the only, Queensrÿche!” can be in 2016.
Special thanks to Nina at The Noise Cartel for getting us into this show!