How much power metal can one venue handle? Glasgow’s Garage was about to find out, on a particularly wet and miserable Wednesday night as two bands with a closely interlinked history arrived for three hours or so of fast-paced, melodic fury.
Openers Power Quest are back after a hiatus, reformed in 2016 and featuring Ashley Edison on vocals as part of the reinvigorated line-up – some may know him as the frontman of south coast metallers Dendera. Keyboard player Steve Williams is actually a founding member of DragonHeart, which went on to become tonight’s headliners, but Power Quest took a slightly different direction sound-wise which make them the perfect support act. Generically similar, but by no means a clone.
Talking to Ashley afterwards (interview up once I get the time to transcribe it), he was very pleased with the audience reaction and told me that, in Steve’s opinion, Power Quest have never been bigger. He had every right to be pleased with the crowd response tonight. Power Quest came on to a venue roughly a quarter full and a large proportion were close to the front, pumping fists in the air and headbanging as the band played a mix of both old and new tracks. The first new song – “Kings and Glory” from Sixth Dimension which is out next week – really got the crowd going and is a belter. Pumping, rousing and loud, if this is the shape of things to come from Power Quest then they definitely deserve this resurgence.
A little cramped for space with DragonForce’s huge drumkit behind them shrouded in a black cloak, the band made the most of the room they had and prowled around, trading fistbumps with the audience and striking somewhat compacted rock star poses.
As the set progressed, the crowd got larger and larger, and by the time the closing screams from Ashley’s impressive vocal cords signalled the end of the short show, a very impressive and engaged audience cheered them off. Power Quest definitely arrived with some fans in tow, but without a doubt in my mind they left with far more.
I missed the first couple of DragonForce songs as I was talking to Ashley and as a result was locked in the merch area for a while, as seems to be the rather odd custom at the Garage (anyone know why this is?). However, given they were playing for around 1 hour and 45 minutes, this wasn’t a huge portion of the set.
Like Power Quest, they ploughed through the back cataloge as well as tackling material from Reaching Into Infinity, showing their ever-broadening musical stylings. As is usually the case at gigs, the older songs definitely got the best reception, but the newer songs were welcomed quite warmly as well. I can see them digging their way into the regular setlist as time goes on.
Highlights, though, were “Fury of the Storm” (because it’s brilliant) and “Cry Thunder”. The latter was massively extended with much crowd interaction (left can sing louder than right, that kind of thing) as well as one young audience member being invited on stage to belt out the chorus on his own. Cain – if I’ve spelled that correctly – did himself proud. It’s always a bit nerve-wracking watching someone get up to join in with a band in case they’re awful, but the guest singer propped his foot on the monitor, leaned into the crowd and screamed out a perfectly acceptable impromptu performance.
In amongst it all we got a guitar solo from bassist Frédéric Leclercq – yes, a guitar solo from the bassist. He was backed, on bass, by singer Marc Hudson. Both of them, by their own admission and in their own words, fucked up a bit, but they certainly did well. It made for an interesting break.
There’s no prize for guessing the set closer. “Who’s here just to hear this one song?” asked Marc, receiving a very loud cheer in response. “Oh, fuck off… Well, it is a great song.”
“Through the Fire and Flames” is always worth watching live, and missing it would be like a Maiden show without “Number of the Beast” or Europe not playing “The Final Countdown”. I genuinely don’t think I’ll ever tire of watching Li and Totman’s fingers move in a blur during the solos.
The performances from both bands were superb, and it’s great to see DragonForce doing their routine “more dates, smaller tour” gigs again. Power Quest will be back in the new year so if you missed them (or indeed caught them) then check out their dates in late February supporting Freedom Call.
Photos courtesy of Amplified Gig Photography