Dragonforce & Neonfly, Thekla, Bristol
Once again into Bristol and onto the boat for a night of British power metal with multinational membership. Immediately the heat of the venue was as palpable as it had been for Anathema last weekend. So as we sweated thankfully Neonfly were on stage shortly after doors opening meaning we had music from the off.
I have only ever caught the end of Neonfly's sets at festivals but I enjoyed their debut album Outshine The Sun and this was a good chance to see the band in small setting, things started brilliantly with the progressive, 80's rock sounding Ship With No Sails which got the crowd going with it's bouncy but technical riffage, the band sound like a mix between Queensryche and Helloween and much of this is due to the vocals of Willy Norton who has a great voice that goes from a powerful mid into a sky scraping highs, (he also looks a lot like Mr Tate). The band moved straight into the Helloween style The Enemy which had Fredrick Thunder and Patrick Harrington shredding like Weikath and Hansen, with the rhythm section of dread-locked Paul Miller's bass and Jerry Sadowski on drums, Sadowski was particularly good behind the kit as he is not Neonfly's drummer and had to learn the set in two days! He showed his mettle on the 'Ryche-like A Gift To Remember. The band are very boisterous and exciting to watch and Norton is very funny with his self-deprecating style that was part Shakepeare, part stand up. The band rammped up the metal with a medley of tracks from Outshine The Sun before playing a new song in the shape of Heart Of The Sun before things ended with the awesome Morning Star. A great band that played a solid set of melodic metal, however the sound issues couldn't be ignored as everything seemed a little bassy meaning that the guitars were barely audible in places. I hoped the sound would improve for the headliners but still Neonfly put on a great show. 7/10
I think I've seen these power metal mentalists now around 6 times, but this was my first show since Brit Marc Hudson took up the mic. Like a freight train the band bounced onto the stage and went straight into Defenders from their quite excellent new album Maximum Overdrive. However the bugs had not been sorted and all that was audible were new boy Gee Anzalone drums, Vadim Pruzhanov's keys and Frédéric Leclercq's bass, neither Sam Totman or Herman Li's guitars could be heard and Marc too was quiet in the mix. Second song in and still nothing, unfortunately this was Fury Of The Storm which is one of my favoutire tracks, the sound was simply dire and I walked up the stairs to leave the sound got better so I ventured onto the venues balcony and the sound quality was immeasurable the guitars were pristine and clear as the frenetic solos and squeals rang out during the middle section of the song. This was better, the Dragonforce I knew but I was a bit pissed off that the only good sound came with an obscured view and a sweltering temperature. As Fury Of The Storm closed next came Three Hammers from Maximum Overload which along with main set closer Cry Thunder harked back to the loin cloth madness of Manowar, from up here I could hear Marc's vocals loud and clear and they were immense, his voice is strong and powerful and can hit huge highs that his predecessor often failed to hit. Back to the classics with Black Winter Night from their debut album which got the older fans like myself excited. The majority of the set was taken from the last two albums though as Marc (and possibly the rest of the band) expressed a genuine need to play all of the last album but we got Symphony Of the Night, The Sun Is Dead and the schizoid The Game which is faster than any thrash song I can tell you and shows you what an amazing drummer Anzalone is. This gig was a 14 plus gig meaning that many of the audience were kids, now I have no beef with kids at gigs but many along with a lot of adults did seem to be there purely because Dragonforce appeared on Guitar Hero, this has been both a blessing and a curse for the band as now their crowds are full of people that only recognise final song Through The Fire And The Flames (although it does mean there are more women at their gigs, which is great for the band I guess) this association means that there are a lot of blank looks when the older stuff is played. Heroes Of Our Time again got the crowd going and their cover of Ring Of Fire was just silly but exciting none the less and then it was time for 'that song' which is where this writer left. The thing is I can see why Dragonforce focused on their latest album as this tour was to promote it but when a lot of the crowd weren't even paying much attention to the new songs you know that the wrong crowd is there, this gig was was sold out but when the majority of the crowd are just waiting for one song, it means that there are a lot of people who couldn't go that would have loved to have seen the whole show. Still Dragonforce did their best to entertain the crowd and played a good set, a shame Through The Fire... was last though, play it first get the twits out of the way and let others enjoy the whole show in comfort. 7/10