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Opening the gig are UK symphonic power metallers, Pythia, fronted by Emily Alice Ovenden from classical act Mediaeval Baebes. Although a relatively new band, their fanbase is strong in the Garage and they manage to sustain the majority of the audience’s attention. Decked in medieval-inspired costumes, the band’s stage presence is primarily kept alive by Ovenden who waves her arms around like the stereotypical female-fronted metal bands. Musically, Pythia tick the formulaic box and fail to provoke creativity on any large scale. Fans of the female-fronted metal tag appear to adhere to anything this new band put out but it seems their popularity will not extend much further than this unless they think up some creative ideas for their next release. Despite their average music, they do whet the appetite of the audience adequately for the band to follow.
Sunday 8th November 2009
The Relentless Garage in London, UK
Doing power metal better than Pythia are Serenity from Austria, who played with Threshold back in 2007 with Kamelot but pulled out last second on Kamelot’s tour with Dream Evil earlier this year. Icy keyboards are matched with a progressive edge to the music, embellished with soothing melodic vocals. Their compositions are not anything the average melodic metal fan has not heard before but in the live environment, it comes across as infectious and fun. Frontman Georg Neuhauser performs with great gusto, leaping on to the barrier to improve his rapport with the audience while the rest of the band members on stage wear cheek-to-cheek smiles on their faces. The dreamy soundscape of ‘Coldness Kills’ captivates the audience intensely while the ballad ‘Fairytales’ encourages several fans singing along. An announcement confirming a performance in the UK next year for the band is met with rapturous applause and once again Serenity is wholly digested by London.
Reviews by Elena Francis
The final turn-out for the gig is highly surprising for UK progressive metal icons Threshold, considering Saxon and Anvil are playing the same night in London, and the fact that their last London show took place at the Peel, a tiny pub boasting a maximum capacity of a measly 120 people. It is heartening to see the UK’s largest and possibly oldest prog metal act finally getting the recognition they deserve compared to previous shows. As soon as the band opens with ‘Consume to Live’ from their debut album, no doubt relishing the return of vocalist Damian Wilson, the room is choked with energy. A projector screen displays Threshold related videos and images but is largely ignored due to Wilson’s demanding stage presence. A couple of times, he launches himself into the audience and walks around the entire room, interacting with fans on an individual level before returning to the stage. Threshold’s trademark astral prog riffs literally float through the air, embracing all in the venue in a warm fashion. Interesting and intense drumming, the perfect number of guitar solos and a formidable keyboard sound verify that Threshold are top of their game at the final stop on their tour. Still promoting their latest full-length offering ‘Dead Reckoning’, the crowd is treated to a barrage of songs from this release including ‘One Degree Down’, ‘Fighting for Breath’ and ‘Pilot in the Sky of Dreams’, the latter encouraging an entire audience sing-along. Threshold do a great job of summarising their discography (in a set that certainly needs to be elongated to be truly representative of the work they have done) with songs such as the acoustic guitar-led ‘Avalon’ from the ‘Critical Mass’ release and ‘Long Way Home’ from the ‘Hypothetical’ album without, surprisingly, resorting to the usual fan-favourites ‘Light and Space’ and ‘Fragmentation’. But the closer is a Threshold classic that has to be on the setlist: ‘Mission Profile’, which is once again accompanied by an emphatic audience singing along. Wilson handles the material he did not originally sing on more than admirably and interacts with his bands mates as often as he does with the audience. Wilson reports that this will be the final time to catch Threshold live for a while because the band plan on settling down to write and record the follow-up release to ‘Dead Reckoning’. Obviously, this news gains an overwhelming response and it really is time to hear Mr Wilson’s vocals grace new Threshold material.