|» Dragonforce 2006 05 05||
What a night for Metal in Cleveland! This was a sold out show and American fans were hungry to hear Dragonforce. The first band to hit the stage were local artists Eternal Legacy. This unsigned band thoroughly impressed me. They were only able to play three songs; but those songs were all excellent! This band was so tight, that they should have played just prior to Dragonforce. Since they are still unsigned, they were relegated to the opening slot. This is a band who deserve to be signed to Nightmare records. They have progressive elements, but are primarily straightforward metal in the vain of early Queensreich, Metal Church, Jag Panzer, Fates Warning, etc. Brothers Shaun & Jason are exceedingly gifted guitarists. Jason is also an accomplished vocalist hitting the Harry "Tyrant" Conklin and Geoff Tate high notes. Shaun was truly astounding on guitar. He even did his best Herman Li impression on the last song "Cyberplague".
The real spectacle though, came from their newest member - 13 year old
keyboard wizard Spencer Phillips who is classically trained and truly
talented. Overall this Ohio based band has an excellent future ahead of
them I purchased the $10 longsleeve shirt and picked up their demo which
sounds quite good for being self-produced. I was even fortunate to catch
the guitar pick when Jason tossed it out as they were exiting. Then when
the stage hands were dismantling and preparing for the next act I caught
their set-list which I thought was a beer cup being thrown at me. Believe
me, this show was so packed that much chaos ensued.
8 chalices of 10
Next up were newly signed Roadrunner artists Sanctity from Ashville,
North Carolina. These guys put on an excellent show. As soon as they hit
the stage, a huge mosh pit erupted and mass hysteria followed. First an
inflated Jaegermeister beachball hit me from out of nowhere. It did not
hurt as I realized that it was part of the festivities and it was being
tossed around like a volleyball. It was all fun and frenzy until when
I went to hit it and was accidentally smacked by another thrasher. Now
my lip was bruised & bleeding, my head banging, all the while I was
trying desperately to keep my wife from being knocked over, or becoming
dog-piled in the pugnacious pit. The wife loves the excitement, and she
strives to be in the very front amidst all the bedlam. Since I was not
too familiar with Sanctity, I just enjoyed their set. I know they played
their fan favorite "Zeppo", and a few other ragers. I also liked
the fact that guitarist Zeff wore his black & white Dokken shirt,
even if they did not have that tooth & nail sound. Overall Sanctity
put on a rippin set, and the crowd was quite pleased. So keep an eye and
ear out for this band and their new CD.
6,5 chalices of 10
Protest The Hero
Then everything changed when Toronto based metal core Protest the Hero hit the stage. I just don't know what to make of these bizarre college brats. The music was totally inchoate and almost pure dissonance. The crowd reaction was one of being confused & bored at the same time. This band just did not fit in with the metallic vibe. It's cool that a younger audience came to see them and stayed for Dragonforce, but essentially I was annoyed and the wife who was now tired of being pushed and pummelled was now agitated and quite irritable, looking for someone to shove. Since I have know clue about the songs? which they played, I will comment on their stage antics which only served to debase this banal band even more. The lead guitarist was doing the same style arpeggios and fretboard gymnastics for every song. This did not fit in with the barefoot bass player who resembled a reject from ELO who was picking at his bass like he was Victor Wootan; all the while his pants were so low that everytime he turned around I was a victim of the vertical smile.
Then the drummer was so wasted that even when he broke his snare, it
did not effect the music as the drums were repititious, sheepish, and
tedious. The other guitarist who had an affinity for some Sumerian godfigure
was actually talented; again his stlye did not match the mayhem. Then
there was the young vocalist who screeched out all the words, that is
when Mr. ELO was not grunting and belching into the microphone. This lead
singer? with pants below his hips barely supported by his loose belt,
conversed with the audience like they were actually interested, and again
more madness matriculated. Thankfully he had on boxers, as he was so crude
and vile that he only incensed the crowd more with his makeshift vulgar
dismay of power,. I protest the hero who selected this band to be on the
tour, and I so wish that they had not bogarted the stage for so damn long;
as I would much rather have heard more metal from either Eternal Legacy
or even Sanctity.
(Sorry, no setlist)
-- chalices of 10
A solid 30+ minutes transpired after Protest finally departed and the curtain was lowered.This seemed like an eternity, but I did get a chance to mingle with the crowd and discover how many metalheads were familiar with our site. Even the guy from Metal-rules had heard of me. As time dwindled, the crowd became so restless constantly shouting for Dragonforce. After all the show was sold out and everyone was wearing a Dragonforce shirt! This is evidenced by the fact that I stood in a longer line to buy my tour T-shirt and the wife, my "Mettle Maiden" a "Dragonforce Dirty Power Metal Slut" babydoll for longer than I did to get into the show. In all my years, I have never lingered in such a long line at a concert to purchase a shirt. They even had a credit card machine encouraging metalheads to spend more, and they did! I was now becoming frustrated with all this waiting and idle nonsense, especially since I was initially not allowed in to the Agora until I took my "deadly" 4 inch chain wallet back to the car. Now if that's a weapon, how do you explain all the metalheads wearing spikes and chains? Was I the only one naive enough to kowtow to the facade of security? So as the chanting continued, finally just after 10:15 the sounds of Slayer's Reign in Blood began to whip the crowd into a frenzy as the curtain was raised and one by one each member of Dragonforce hit the stage. First to enter was Dave Mackintosh who instantly conjured his battle magic as Vadim prepared for war with his keyboards. Next up were the Sons of the Master Demoniac - Sam Totman & Herman Li - those myths of metal from New Zealand & Hong Kong. Then the heavenly sounds of Fred Leclercq could be heard as the song Black Fire exploded and ZP Theart rushed to the stage to greet a crowd of over 1000 screaming fans who instantly began to sing along with him.
I knew we were in for a fantasmic event now as I quickly encouraged the wife to rush the stage at her own peril so she could see more of the merriment. She arrived just in time to see the shredfest begin as the band began to play Fury of the Storm. Fury indeed as the crowd was just a total riot of violence. Thankfully, the wife found a spot close to other women risking it all just to get a glimpse of their idols. As I thrashed and bashed I stayed behind her doing my best to shield her from all harm, all the while lost in Li's solos. It was at this time I noticed that Sam had two beer bottles on his microphone stand from which he was constantly sipping. As Dragonforce rebounded with Operation Ground and Pound, I also became tranfixed by Vadim who was doing aerobics while playing his keyboards. Next up was Fields of Despair where ZP explained to the crowd that the word cu*t was commonplace terminology for Brits, and for us uptight Americans not to be bothered by his foul verbal conflagration. Who was he kidding, we has just endured the excrescence and expletives from Protest the Hero. Anyway, he decided to have us chant a more colloquial term as we all repeated after him "1-2 -3 Gash!" Then 2 minutes into the song, the band hesitated and then stopped playing; appartently ZP fouled up the lyrics and they had to start over...more imprecations impregnated. This reminded me of the classic Anthrax - I'm the Man "Joey F#$ed up" routine, and I was not to sure of it's authenticity. No matter, they re-commenced and did that song serious justice. It was at this time when some wiley louse pushed his was to the crowd and tried to usurp my position. He was so intoxicated that I could not explain to him that he was endangering the ladies with his aggressive antics. Apparently he was one of those black metal zealots who had easily passed through security's inspection with his gauntlet replete with spikes, hooks, and chains. Everytime he raised his fist in the air he contorted a lock of mine and the wife's hair in his metal menagerie yanking a shank every second. At one time he had us and another chick all twisted into form around his sadistically tattooed arm. Isn't metal a mindblowing experience? For we are all part of this tangled mortal coil.
After more crowd bric-a-brac, ZP introduced the Body Breakdown and Herman, Sam, Fred, and Dave just continued with all the crazy cranking and crashing. By now Sam had already drained both beer bottles and his roadie was compelled to replace them. Herman happily hurled his pick into the crowd which struck my wife on the bridge of her nose; but alas she never saw it again. As ZP introduced the Ballad he told everyone to get their lighters high in the air; I guess he did not realize that as crowded as it was when a drunken fan ignitess his lighter next to a long haired warrior, he might want to be more careful so as not to burn him or singe his precious hair. So a real fight broke out and there was even more misdirection. I just guarded the wife and did my best to enjoy the show...it was a break, since I was not a huge fan of this track. We were so damn hot and sweaty that it felt great when we were drenched by the countless times ZP sprayed water onto us. This time was most memorable as after he had depleted the "Elan" water bottle, he flippantly flung it out into the crowd, whereby it luckily landed perfectly in the wife's cleavage...now that's a true mettle souvenir! After the ballad ended everyone exited and allowed young Vadim to amuse the audience with his quixotic and flamboyant panache. He was just incredible tickling the ivory with his fingers, nose, ears, etc at maximum speed and earsplitting, volatile volume. I even heard hints of the Godfather and the Simpson's theme. Never has the subtle dalliance of a keyboard solo been so ostentatious in its osculation, as the the wife willfully witnessed . When this exhibition was exhausted, ZP returned shirtless with a resounding "Hello Cleveland!", then the band came back on stage and tore right into Soldiers of the Wasteland followed by the hit - My Spirit Will Go On. ZP fluttered fluidly all around the stage soaking everyone as Sam, Fred, and Herman declared a totentanz. ZP did not have to sing too much since the crowd seemed to know all the words. He was astounded, explaining to the audience that he had no idea there was such a loyal following in Cleveland. Also at this time there was a character dressed like the Black Night from Monty Python in attendance. He must have been a metalhead since I saw him thrashing around in the pit even when his costume was being ripped to shreds. He merged his way to the stage and hurriedly handed Herman his fake sword. Herman quicly brandished it then proceeded to do his enitire solo with the tip of the sword as he just flicked his pick into the crowd...WOW!
Normally this would be the closer before returning with one encore, but tonight was different. Instead ZP instigated the balcony for not having the derring do to brave the bloody floor. He then split the crowd in half to see who could srceam the loudest. As if we were not packed in tight enough, now he wanted to create a rift to pass through, even more impetuosity enveloped. When the band was satisfied by our blairing vocal response they hammered out Through the Fire and Flames. Then we were treated to Heart of the Dragon. It did not stop there as all night long these die-hard dedicated metal fans held onto a sign offering the band $2 if they would just play Valley of the Damned. Confused as to who should get the money, ZP held the sign up high for all to see and returned it to the motivated metal fans. Then without even a warm-up they played Valley of the Damned flawlessly, even merging into a pyramid in order to play each other's instruments for a few seconds. The fans went wild and the whole floor felt like an earthquake; especially since ZP had us all jumping up and down like a barrage of pogo sticks. After the last solo Herman came around to our side to shake hands He grabbed my fist with a firm embrace which was just jostling, except at that very minute a dozen or so more metal heads tried desparately to feel his touch while they all piled up on me. Herman flinched and tried to back-up; however, he never loosened his grip on me, so I was literally lifted from my foothold and dragged across the barrier. Well it was worth it as Sam slapped my fist on the rebound. Then ZP cam down to shake everyone hands and I just took a step back, but the wife greeted him whole-heartedly. Then with a final bow the show was over, now everyone must carefully exit the building to avoid a possible stampede. Yeah right! Not us, I approached the stage explained to the tear down crew thatI was reviewing the show and they handed me a pick and the set-list, now how wicked is that! Then I made one last attempt to purchase another shirt for me and my brethren; fat-chance they were completely sold-out. Just think how many CDs the band would have sold if their CD had been released already. You have to realize that over 50% of the crowd still did not own Dragonforce's latest offering. We still have to wait another month, unless we dished out the big bucks for a Jap pressing; which some of us had already done. Luckily, I saw one of the engineers and they asked me for whom I was reviewing the show; after I explained to them that I am the American writer for Metal Covenant, they instantly invited me to meet with the band after they had a chance to get cleaned up.
So my wife and I made it to the car got out our sharpie for signatures, and our cheap disposable camera, which was prohibited at the gig, and headed for the buses. Check out the interview section to hear the words of wisdom from 4 of the 6 members of the band, you won't be disappointed!
10 chalices of 10
See also: interview with Dragonforce after the gig »»