Review in short: Holy crap, what a brilliant night out.
But I suppose you want more than that. Damn you. I’m tired. But here we go… First up we had Dendera who I featured as New Band of the Day quite some time ago. While I was impressed with them from a couple of songs, they absolutely blew me (and the wife) away with their performance tonight.
They’re lacking just one indefinable thing as regards their stage presence – between us we couldn’t quite put our fingers on it. But it’s something that will come with time, and almost certainly come soon. Playing their own subtle twist on classic metal (their list of influences reads like a volume on the NWOBHM), they’ve gone for the tried and tested 5-man approach: drums, bass, twin lead guitars and vocals.
Remember that flutter in the stomach you got the first time you heard Maiden back in the Powerslave era? The way your hair stood on end and you just wanted to punch the air and sing the choruses? Dendera have that. Catchy riffs, pounding beat and choruses your throat will hate you for the day after.
Catch these guys while they’re still opening for others. Trust me, if a band should be making it huge – this is them. They. They are them. Fuck it. Just go and see them.
Following on were Dublin/Enniskillen’s finest Celtic rockers Darkest Era. Introducing two new members on bass and drums, they ploughed through a 35-minute set that a good portion of the crowd were baying for.
I last caught them opening for Alestorm in 2011, and they’ve only improved with time. Wasting not a moment of their allotted slot, singer Krum was stood on the pit fence before singing the first note and face-first into the audience.
Making full use of the stage, especially guitarist Sarah who seemed as capable of staying still as a Mexican jumping bean covered in itching powder, they powered through a good number of powerful Ireland-soaked tracks including three – if I counted correctly – from their upcoming new album.
By the end of the set, Krum was being belted on the head by numerous inflatable hammer (Gloryhammer were selling them at the merch stall) as he once more assaulted the first couple of rows. They left to a huge cheer and half the paying audience raising their fists in vain hope of an encore.
Our headliners took the stage at around 9:30. In a way, you know what you’ll get at this stage with Gloryhammer. The album is a story told from beginning to end, so – no surprises and no spoilers – their set was the album played in order.
However, that’s like saying that Rocky Horror is just the songs played in order. Christopher Bowes has made Gloryhammer into more than just a power metal band with some silly songs.
The story of Angus McFife and his battles against the evil wizard Zargothrax, quests for the magical relics that would help him and all that other batshit crazy nuttiness is told in song around some very enjoyable (and equally silly) set pieces and dialogue, mainly from singer Thomas (a.k.a. Angus McFife himself).
Their performance was chock full of energy and, while Thomas’ armour doesn’t look quite as hefty as Ex Deo‘s, I still have no idea how he managed to last a whole set without collapsing from heat exhaustion or dehydration.
Journeying from Dundee to Cowdenbeath and back again took a shade over an hour and, yes, you get the “Special Edition” of the album complete with bonus song “Wizards”. You also get silly crowd games, a chance to boo an evil wizard, a big hammer and some quality Hollywood-quality stage combat sequences.
Overall, just an brilliant night of music which the audience definitely appreciated. There are still plenty of dates left on this UK tour followed by several already-announced festival appearances for the headliners. I’m sure the support acts have their own plans and I definitely look forward to finding out what they are.