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Adagio are opening act on Kamelot's European tour. It's been a good few years since I last caught the Frenchmen live - at ProgPower Europe in 2004 - and, tonight, it's unfortunate that I only manage to witness the second half of their set as what I hear is an impressive blend of hard-hitting sympho-infused prog-metal, delivered through an energetic, polished performance. Assuming the role of vocalist for the band on this tour is talented singer/producer Mats Levén (perhaps most famed in recent years for his work in Therion) after the sudden departure of Finnish frontman Christian Palin (for which the band are quoted as saying needed to happen "as soon as possible for the best of Adagio"). With his wide-ranging experience to draw upon, Levén looks like he's been fronting Adagio for years rather than a few weeks, striding around the stage with unfaltering mettle and sings every lyric note-perfect, smiling his way through the entire set (well, at least the second half that I see). Franck Hermanny also impresses with a virtuosic command of his six-string bass, and likewise of Stephan Forte's guitar widdlings. Blessed with a near-perfect sound through the Koko's "no-expense spared" PA system (with perfectly angled speaker rigs for the venue's acoustics), Adagio's music is well received by those gathered in the rammed venue.
Sunday 28th March 2010
Koko in London, UK
Next up are Leaves' Eyes who have a largely different lineup to when I last saw them in 2007. Joining the Norwegian/German ensemble are recently recruited Dutch guitarist Sander van der Meer and the even more recent addition of Austrian drummer Roland Navratil, as well as one-time Disillusion bassist Alla Fedynitch (in Leaves' Eyes ranks since 2008). As lights fade, the atmospheric intro music from latest release 'Njord' resonates around the Koko as band members, old and new, appear onstage to loud cheers before launching into the title track from said album. 'My Destiny', 'Emerald Island' and 'Take the Devil in Me' follow, just as they do sequentially on 'Njord'. 'Ragnarok' is up next, also from the latest album before a brief departure to 'Vinland Saga' for a rendition of 'Elegy' before returning to 'Njord' for closing number 'Frřya's Theme'. The set-bias towards 'Njord' is perhaps an indication of how pleased they are with their latest material although I'm sure some fans in attendance would have preferred one or two older tracks besides 'Elegy'. Such is the dilemma of deciding on a setlist for a short support slot, I guess! Considering van der Meer and Navratil only came into the band this year, Leaves' Eyes are an impressively tight act in the music they perform, and the "beauty and the beast" duality of Liv Kristine and Alexander Krull remains the main visual focus of their performance. Kristine walks gracefully around the stage in a long flowing dress, her ethereal presence and vocal style working a treat in the music's dynamic against the contrasting large stature and guttural death growls of husband Krull. I've always found Leaves' Eyes albums 'growers' rather than instantly likeable, which is a positive quality of any music, and in a live setting, when they're on form as they are tonight, one cannot deny the epically atmospheric power inherent in their compositions as the Koko is filled with their grandiose sounds. A fantastic performance. Just a shame it's so short.
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Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
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Just before Kamelot take to the stage, there is a discernible buzz in the air amongst the 1,000+ fans occupying the Koko's capacity from the floor to each tier of balcony. As each band member appears they receive deafening cheers from a clearly excited audience before frontman Roy Khan himself walks slowly out onto the stage, attired in what resembles a dress fashioned from an old pair of curtains...or a long Gothic-style coat - take your pick. Commencing with 'Ghost Opera', the band respond to their warm reception with an energetic opening, and an energy they sustain throughout the night in a set that includes the likes of 'The Human Stain', 'The Pendulous Fall', 'The Haunting (Somewhere in Time)', 'Center of the Universe', 'Wander', and 'When the Lights are Down'. A drum solo towards the end of their set is perhaps a little misplaced in proceedings and temporarily mars the momentum of their performance, but they get back on track with 'Forever', before encore airings of 'The Black Halo', 'Season's End', 'Karma' and, finally, 'March of Mephisto'. I'd heard earlier in the day that the band had wanted to construct a catwalk (or ego-platform, if you will) into the crowd but, fortunately the venue's security barrier remains and the catwalk takes the form of just a small extension to the stage, albeit one that occupies a good two thirds of the photopit, rendering viable positions for photography somewhat awkward. That said, the audience in the front few rows seem to relish such an opportunity to be in closer proximity to band members, who often venture out onto the platform much to the delight of their fans. Music-wise, I admit to never having been a Kamelot fan, although I am undeniably impressed by the entertaining performance they deliver in the Koko this evening. Also worthy of note is that Elize Ryd from Amaranthe provides backing vocals (and, I gather, will be doing so throughout the entire tour), her fine voice adding a touch of class to the songs. Overall, I remain unconverted, although the majority present appear to have one hell of a time judging by their enthusiastic reactions.
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