Kamelot - London, England, 28.09.2007
|Event:||Ghost Opera European Tour Part 1|
If there would have been an award for Worst Bad Luck At A Gig, then tonight's London gig would be a strong contender for this dubious honour. A few hours before the gig's scheduled start, the stormy weather gave rise to a power cut at the Astoria 2.
Just as the dreaded reality of having to cancel the gig sank in, electric power was somehow restored. The 3 bands playing tonight, in close synch with their technicians and the venue's staff wasted no time in doing their soundchecks. In fact everyone's mental batteries seemed to be reenergized. After all the scheduled billing was a sort of Prog Metal fan's wet-dream (Serenity + Threshold + Kamelot) and not such a common occurrence either.
Due to a strict curfew Serenity opened their gig only to a handful of punters. Nevertheless, by the end of their first song, 'Forever', the Astoria 2 had its full capacity closely tested.
Serenity's entire set-list was predictably taken from the band's debut (and only) album: "Words Untold & Dreams Unlived". Besides the aforementioned opener, other songs delivered were 'Canopus 3', 'Reduced To Nothingness' and 'Circle Of My 2nd Life'.
The music of Serenity is melodic but heavy and lies comfortably between Power Metal and Progressive Rock genres. The band makes ample use of vocal harmonies as well as a rapid interchange of heavy riffs. This formula seemed to go down very well with the attendees.
Should I have been familiar with the band's repertoire I might have had a better appreciation of what the band had to offer. Undeniably, the quintet had a great stage attitude - audience participation was continuously stoked without the band overdoing it. All in all an excellent effort.
For inexplicable reasons, I had lost touch with Threshold's career after the band's debut "Wounded Land" (1993). Ever since, the band cultivated a reputation as a premier Prog Metal band. Despite my high expectations, tonight's performance still left me in awe.
The band opted to focus on their set-list on the 2 most recent alums: "Subsurface" (2004) and this year's "Dead Reckoning". 'Light And Space', from their "Hypothetical" album, also found its way into the set-list. Threshold's music sounded as heavy as the weather outside…..but still was very emotional.
I'll be blunt about this - in a live setting, this incarnation of Threshold is pure class. On a more specific level, Damien Wilson (Headspace, Landmarq, Praying Mantis, Ayreon, Jeronimo Road, etc, etc, ) must have one of the best voices in Prog Rock. Damien had in fact sung on Threshold's first 2 albums and returned to help his ex-bandmates after the recent departure of Andy McDermott. The talent of the other band-members was no less impressive. For example, tonight's version of 'Hollow' showcased the talent that guitarists Karl Groom and Pete Morton are endowed with. (Think of Karl as a sort of Brian May with balls.) Drummer Johanne James also shined with his technique and versatility - and proved to be a great showman too. His drumming gave songs such as 'Hollow' and 'Light And Space' the muscle of their punch. Another memorable moment was when all the audience clapped and cheered in rhythm to 'Pilot In The Sky Of Dreams'. Threshold then bowed out in style with a poignant delivery of their recent 'This Is Your Life'.
Yes, Threshold did prove they are excellent live performers. It must be observed, however, that this is also a collateral of well-written songs.
Kamelot's gig started in style as a female violinist played an evoking solo at the front of the stage. She then walked off unassumingly when the venue erupted into a frenzy of lights, riffs and applause as Kamelot gave a rendition of 'Ghost Opera'.
Then the unexpected happened. Midway through this song, bassist Sean Tibbets collapsed as one of his legs took a horrifically unnatural shape. The shocked audience looked on as he dragged his body off the stage. Later, vocalist Khan confirmed that Sean had indeed broken his leg and the band were forced to do another couple of songs without bass guitar.
Problems continued to emerge when at one point the sound of Thomas Youngblood's guitar went dead. Similar issues seemed to afflict the keyboards. The members of Kamelot must have been losing focus or presumably started to panic. Instead the band's outward reaction was quite professional and contained.
Then around 4 songs into the set Sean was helped back on stage, evidently still in pain. In true brazen Rock 'N Roll fashion he managed to do the rest of the gig sitting on a high stool and using a makeshift footrest. It's worth mentioning that Sean was replacing full-time Kamelot bassist Glenn Barry just for this tour. Sean had already played with Kamelot many years ago before the band even signed their first record deal and had also been part of the touring line-up for the "Epica" tour.
Things finally started going as planned when around half-way through their set-list Kamelot played video-hit 'The Human Stain'. From then on the band was pretty much an unstoppable force. 'March Of Mephisto', 'Farwell' and 'Forever' were all songs that got a positive reaction from the audience. A similar reaction was met by 'The Haunting' and 'Descent Of The Archangel' which featured the vocals of Katrina who was also accompanying Kamelot on this tour. Katrina is a very gifted singer and I dare say that Khan's singing seemed to have a subtle boost by Katrina's accompaniment.
Like all good Prog gigs, individual band-members were given space to show off their individual prowess. Casy Grillo might have narrow shoulders but the drum solo he did proved he can handle the most complex solos with flair and demonic fury. The keyboard solo of Oliver Palotai came as a shocking surprise to me - I gazed incredulously as he shifted effortlessly through pieces by Classical composers (I think I recognised Bach, Mozart and Paganini amongst them). His place amongst my top 5 keyboardists in Metal was instantly assured.
Several songs had the audience singing through Kamelot's lyrics with a near-perfect tempo. This aptly reflected the great atmosphere that reigned. When the show was over I overheard one guy staring at his gig ticket while stating: "Those were the best £14 I ever spent." Further comments would be superfluous!
The author of this review would like to express his gratitude to the following for their help: Thomas Kreidner, 'Piesel' (Kamelot tour manager) as well as Christian Rodens (Serenity) and Karl Groom (Threshold). Thanks for bothering, guys!!
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