As an epic intro, perfectly befitting of the Symphonic Power Metal band, fills the Underworld with a deep orchestral dirge the crowd counter it with an equally rapturous roar before the band confidently take the stage and immediately launch into the heavy riffing of 'Antimatter' from their 2006 album ‘Astronomy’. They quickly move onto 'Supernova' from the same album bringing with them energy in the form of vocalist Jonas Heidgert who is constantly moving around the stage except to retreat to the back during solos. A real sense of grandeur comes from keyboardist Elias Holmlid who adds a powerful atmosphere throughout the entire set. Jonas strides to the very front of the stage and apologises for the lack of speed in the previous songs, obviously a slightly sarcastic yet rousing comment as he introduces their next track 'Contact', admittedly a faster and much less relenting song that really gets the crowd worked up into almost a frenzy... but not quite yet. As they work their way through the next tracks it's much the same as before, but instead from their 2004 album 'Starfall' - it remains as cheesy as before with its long metal screams, even longer solos and powerful dominating songs. If I had any criticism it would be that the whole thing was slightly too cheesy for my liking although the reaction from the crowd, not surprisingly clad in various Progressive and Power Metal t-shirts, said otherwise. Personally this band fall victim to the same problem I feel with Dragonforce, that they've found a song formula and stuck almost religiously to it to the point where it's hard to tell songs apart. The more paced 'Cassiopeia' luckily doesn't fall victim to this, Jonas introduces the track by wailing out the chorus and getting the crowd to sing along with him. Equally, the next song, their corny ballad 'Forever Walking Alone' is a welcome break to the formula and really expresses the talents of Holmlid with a very lengthy piano section before they break back into their stride with the title track from 'Astronomy'. Jonas announces the final track of the evening to be their cover of Pop Rocker Limahl's 'Neverending Story' by asking the crowd to sing along to the chorus once again like with 'Cassiopeia'. The obviously premeditated encore of the title track from ‘Starfall’ then ensues with added cheesiness and leaves the crowd chanting Dragonland for quite some time after the band have exited the stage. Whilst being a very corny start to the evening it's been a good warm up for some more fantasy filled fun.
Friday 17th July 2009
Camden Underworld in London, UK
In their first gig in London since 2002, Falconer humbly take to the stage for this one-off UK show with only the manic cheers of the crowd to back them up, and they really are manic. I thought the crowd were going mad for Dragonland but it becomes automatically apparent that they're really here for this helping of Swedish Power Metal with many requests being yelled before the band have even played their first note. This is hardly surprising as they have built up an impressive back catalogue of six albums in only eight years since their debut self-titled album in 2001. Disappointingly, they arrive in somewhat plain attire which is an unfortunate contrast to the sound and image of a traditionally medieval land they portray in their songs and promotional photos. However, their lacking appearance is soon forgotten as they begin with 'Fields of Sorrow', clearly a crowd pleaser and it really sets the tone for the rest of the performance. After 'Tower of the Queen' they stop for the usual banter and tell us that the next song 'Wings of Serenity' has not been played live in 10 years but is equally crowd pleasing to the point where a moshpit breaks out, which is then maintained throughout the rest of the night with increased intensity. The next pair of songs, 'Vargaskall' and 'A Quest For The Crown' are quite impressive and whilst they keep up the atmosphere the band remain somewhat static throughout the performance, looking sombre and lifeless despite their high energy material. The only one really going for it seemed to be Karsten Larsson who was really beating his drums within an inch of their life whilst vocalist Mathias Blad provided perhaps the least enthusiasm for most of the show which is a shame for a frontman. Next up was my favourite track from 'Among Beggers and Thieves', their latest album, entitled 'Man of the Hour' which was much more impressively performed than on their album and was quite the highlight of the evening. Only a couple of songs later they make what could easily have been taken as a final goodbye before retreating backstage, but the surprisingly short show was obviously not over... or was it? They stayed back much longer than you'd expect, and when they did return instead of breaking straight into their encore they dithered around for a frustratingly long time before Blad finally asks the crowd if they want more, which of course they do. Whilst still shouting out requests the crowd are treated to 'Upon the Grave of Guilt', a very well performed 'Boiling Led' and 'Mindtraveller', all sharply executed and leave the front of the crowd singing along throughout whilst the back of the venue are furiously moshing. They end the show with 'The Clarion Call', a more paced and solo-heavy effort with some great vocal melodies. The crowd erupt with applause as the evening ends and the band take a bow. They've been greatly appreciated tonight by the 300 strong crowd and, although lacking in energy, they still performed very well and the sound was spot on for both Dragonland and Falconer except for a couple of moments during Falconer's set where the mic cut out, but it was quickly resolved and Blad took it in his stride.
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Reviews & Photography by Nicholas Dishington
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