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Thursday 21 December 2023

A View From The Back Of The Room: Fury & Luke Appleton Power Trio (Live Review By Matt Bladen)

Fury & Luke Appleton Power Trio, The Gryphon, Bristol 20.12.23

I observe few traditions over the festive period, but one of the ones that I will try to do without fail is the annual Xmas gig out on by a band full of my friends. Initially it was Triaxis, but now Fury are the band who manage to make me feel at least a little festive. Shraing this year again after reuniting with one of my best friends makes it all that little bit more special. 

This year's edition took place in The Gryphon, part of the Bristol Metal Quarter, it's an intimate little venue where the band play something equivalent to a front room, however it makes for an exciting, if a little moist atmosphere.

This time joining the headliners were opening band Luke Appleton Power Trio (8), shortened to just Power Trio they contain 1/3 Absolva/Blaze Bayley, 1/3 Dakesis and 1/3 Babylon Fire, mixed togther for some classic heavy metal action. The Power Trio were born out of Luke Appleton's acoustic solo project, Adam Harris behind the drums and Rishi Mehta the one man guitar army, giving the harmonies in not only the guitars but the backing vocals behind Luke's gritty lead vocals and his big bass riffs.

Playing rocked up tracks from the acoustic albums along with the made to measure songs from Forever Viking, including What Heroes Do and the title track. Having been playing together for around a year, (literally like December 2022) musically they are are spot on as Luke continues to grow into a frontman. With more gigs slated for February, the Power Trio will go from strength to strength.

Next up though was the "Best Band In The Galaxy" Fury (9) who have seen a meteoric rise in the last few years, and seem to be getting better and better. According to Julian Jenkins, they were supposed to have this year off to write but have been busier than they were 2022, most recently supporting Phil Campbell in Europe, touring all over the UK, playing Bloodstock and next year they support Firewind on their anniversary London show.

But we got them up close and personal in Bristol, this was my first viewing of them with Tom Atkinson on lead guitar officially. Two Toms do indeed make a right as in long term stickman Tom Fenn they have a drummer who abuses his kit with a controlled frenzy, his drum solo slot gets wilder each time, as even in the more straightforward heavy rockers he's double blasting. With Atkinson Fury have a guitarist that enjoys shredding a solo or two, on the opener Get To Hell First and the proggy Lost In Space, but plenty of others on between. Though he was at risk of braining himself on the speaker behind him for most of the gig.

A set made up of new ones they also threw in a couple of oldies such as When The Hammer Falls, though of course it was the songs from Born To Sin and The Grand Prize that were leaned on the most. The interplay between Julian and Nyah Ifill's vocals is much more balanced now not just on Rock Lives In My Soul which was written as a duet, many of the songs now such as Prince Of Darkness use both of their voices. The backings broader too from Becky Baldwin and Tom Atkinson.

Becky's "RickenBecky" rumbles and rocks with grooves on Rock N Roll, Burnout and Road Warrior especially bouncy, Julian holding down the rhythm guitars while also leading the crowd as a consumate frontman. He introduces their bass player reminding everyone that she played for Mercyful Fate this year across the pond, so what better time to cover a song by the Danish masters of the macarbe, unfortunately it wasn't No Presents For Christmas, but the grooving Evil, JJ snarling and Nyah hitting the highs. Becky laying out that demonic groove with Fenn as Atkinson got to be both Denner and Shermann.

Any band who can keep a crowd hungry and wanting more when the play two big ballads; Shadows And Dust and Upon A Lonesome Tide, retitled here as Boats N Shit, deserve to be commended and as JJ says, you boo now but you'll be singing it later. Singing was not in short supply as Embrace The Demons, Road Warrior and Casino Soleil all kept their place in the set to get everyone dancing. It was hot, sweaty and joyous the spirit of drinking and good will to all people definitely in the room. Finishing with one final encore of I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday, it was over and Fury closed one of thei biggest years yet, with only two home shows to go.

I love seeing friends doing well, I love seeing a band absolutely reaching their nadir, this version of Fury is the slickest I've seen and I've been watching them for over 10 years. There's more music, more shows to come as they cement their place again as one of the hardest working bands around.

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