Support Acts: Xandria, Triosphere & Blackguard
London Forum, Wednesday 7 November 2012
Review by Yiannis (John) Stefanis
Photos by Ant May www.planetmosh.com
The first time I came across US Symphonic Power Metallers Kamelot was back in 1999 when a copy of their amazing fourth studio album “The Fourth Legacy” found its way into my hands and I can safely say I have been a fan ever since! One of the main reasons for being attracted to this band was Roy Khan’s powerful and commanding vocals so I was skeptical when I heard the news of his departure back in April 2011 about what the band would do next.
Listening to their recently released studio album “Silverthorn” I realised that, as far as studio recordings are concerned, Tommy Karevik is the best possible alternative to Khan; what remained was to see if the Stockholm born and bred singer would also make his impact felt in a live environment. With the band currently on tour for the promotion of “Silverthorn” the venue set for the above-mentioned ‘challenge’ was the London Forum.
During tough economic times such as these, the best way to attract large audiences is to arrange for multi-band packages and supporting Kamelot on this tour were three bands, the first of which was the Canadian melodic Death Metal quintet Blackguard. On a night promising hours of melodic and Symphonic Metal, the band was the ‘odd one out’ but that didn’t stop them from trying to lure as many people as possible. Paul “Ablaze” Zinay, a truly commanding and energetic vocalist, did everything in his power to get the crowd going but a combination of mediocre sound and, at times, an indifferent crowd, were not all that helpful.
The second band to grace the Forum’s stage for the evening was the female-fronted Norwegian quartet Triosphere and they were, by far, the best supporting band of the show! Anyone set on discarding them as ‘yet another female-fronted band’ was put in their place straight away as Ida Haukland is hardly what you would describe as an average singer! Her powerful vocals chords, reminiscent as they are of genre-definers such as Doro and Lita Ford, were stretched to the maximum throughout the show, providing some top quality moments.
The band is as much influenced by 80s classic as they are of modern Progressive Metal and while they are truly menacing in their straight forward, riff-based Heavy Metal, their Progressive attempts were not always of an equal standard. Compositions such as “Trinity” and “Worlds Apart” were greeted with much enthusiasm and the band left the stage thirty or so minutes later after having received a great round of applause by a, by that stage, decent size crowd.
German Symphonic/Gothic Metallers Xandria were, at least on paper, the strongest of the opening acts but, to me, their performance lacked power and intimacy. Featuring a spinto soprano frontwoman like Manuela Kraller in their lineup, comparisons with Nightwish were perhaps unavoidable and that in itself was enough to ensure a great level of support by the predominantly young crowd.
Much as I failed to really connect with their music, I liked Manuela’s attitude on stage as she is constantly in contact with the audience. When not getting the audience to put their hands together to the band’s numerous rhythmical riffs, the crowd was assigned vocal support duties, adding much power to compositions such as “Cursed”, which was, by far, the highlight of the show. Following a thirty five minute performance filled with both highs and lows the band left the stage in the capable hands of Kamelot’s road crew whose role was to turn the stage into an environment worthy of a Kamelot show.
Kamelot’s career has been experiencing a steady and comfortable ascent these last few years and that has enabled them to make their live shows truly memorable experiences. It took less than twenty minutes for their massive road crew to prepare the sound and transform the stage of the Forum into a colorful epic-looking environment and the sight of the place alone raised our levels of anticipation further more.
Following a pompous pre-recorded intro, Kamelot entered the stage in victorious fashion performing a killer rendition of “Rule The World”, followed by an equally impressive version of “Ghost Opera”. This energetic start and the crowd’s positive reaction ought to have been to Thomas Youngblood’s satisfaction but one could sense that the guitarist was constantly looking around to see if his choice of vocalist met with his fans’ approval. It only took a couple more songs like the newbie “Veritas” and the classic “Center Of The Universe” for the crowd to truly warm up and from then onwards the show turned into a real celebration!
Youngblood’s demand for crowd participation in “The Human Strain” was satisfied to the maximum and quite a few lighters were lit during the passionate ballad “Song For Jolee” – a new composition which enabled Tommy Karevik to prove why he is the right man for the job! Casey Grillo’s energetic drum solo provided a short breather and a killer rendition of “When The Lights Are Down” found Youngblood jumping into the photo pit and performing his solo in breathing distance from the front row!
The strong connection between the band’s new singer and the crowd was truly solidified when “Sacrimony (Angel Of Afterlife)” was performed and that was really when Younblood managed to finally relax, cracking smiles all over the place. “Season’s End” is a very special ballad that was performed with the help of the band’s supporting female singer and following a virtuoso classical keyboard solo by Oliver Palotai and a powerful rendition of “Forever” the band left the stage. Having check out the set list of the band’s previous three performances to the night’s show I knew that any hopes of listening to my personal favorite “The Haunting (Somewhere In Time)” would be dashed, so I braced myself for what I knew would be a decent encore.
Sean Tibbetts returned first onto the stage in order to entertain us with a short but impressive bass solo filled with slap moves and double finger themes leading the way to the classic “Karma” and the new but equally catchy “Torn” but the show ended only after Blackguard’s Paul “Ablaze” Zinay returned onto the stage to offer his deep growls for an epic rendition of “March Of Mephisto” thus closing the show on an emotional high.
Khan’s departure a year ago must have put much pressure on Thomas Youngblood’s shoulders, seeing as he was forced to replace one of the best modern day Metal singers during the most commercially successful period in Kamelot’s career but all evidence on the night suggested that the band’s leader made the best possible decision by asking Tommy Karevik to join.
It is quite sad that the Forum was almost half empty during the show as many more people would have been convinced of the Swede’s abilities to front this band – a band that looks ready to travel the world in support of “Silverthorn” and a one that is bound to become an even more impressive unit as time goes by. As I left the venue following the end of the show I immediately began revisiting its most impressive moments in my mind and the memory is still as vivid as ever as I write this. This can only happen when you have experienced something truly special, right?
Kamelot Set List:
1. “Rule The World”
2. “Ghost Opera”
3. “The Great Pandemonium”
5. “Center Of The Universe”
6. “The Human Stain”
7. “Song For Jolee”
8. “Drum Solo (Casey Grillo)”
9. “When The Lights Are Down”
10. “Sacrimony (Angel Of Afterlife)”
11. “Season’s End”
12. “Keyboard Solo (Oliver Palotai)”
14. “Bass Solo (Sean Tibbetts)”
17. “March Of Mephisto” (featuring Paul “Ablaze” Zinay” from Blackguard)
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