Had you asked me twenty or so years ago whether I would ever consider attending a show featuring a band whose singer is sporting a shiny purple suit the answer would be a resounding ‘no’.
Funnily enough, that is exactly what happened on the evening of the 27th of November when I, my beautiful partner and a very special Belgian couple, decided to brave the cold and make our way to the small but cozy environs of the Biebob. There we watched the members of the Swedish Hard Rock group The Night Flight Orchestra defy all music-related rules and conventions known to man and deliver a set filled with moments of AOR, Funk and, dare I say, Pop magic!
Prior to this supergroup featuring members of Soilwork and Arch Enemy hitting the stage, however, my companions and I were in for a real treat! I have to admit that I knew absolutely nothing of the Black Mirrors prior to tonight’s show but it literally took a few moments and a handful of 70s-sounding groove-laden riffs in order to get hooked with the music of the young quartet from south Brussels!
Fronted by Marcella Di Troia, a chanteuse whose presence combines the charisma of Joan Jett, the stage aggressiveness of Janice Joplin and the musicality of Rosalie Cunningham, the band showcased their love of all things Rock’n’Roll through twelve massive-sounding, energy-driven, truly enjoyable compositions – one being a very successful cover to MC5’s all-time-classic “Kick Out The Jams” – and left the room having received a great round of applause by a very grateful and fully entertained Belgian crowd.
It is very difficult for a man of Björn “Speed” Strid’s physique to go unnoticed, especially as The Night Flight Orchestra front man was sporting the previously-mentioned suit, a set of polarized Ray Ban glasses and a beret like those typically worn by the late Jimi Jamison.
Any comparisons with the legendary singer of Survivor only became stronger seconds after the main guitar melody of “Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough” was performed and even though the sound on offer left much to be desired, the hundred or so people who were at the Vosselaar-based venue looked well and truly connected with what was happening on stage.
Based on a solid keyboard tune and assisted by some truly amazing backing vocals provided by the two ladies who accompanied the band on stage dressed up like air-stewardesses, “Living For The Nighttime” would have been a massive hit had it been released during the early 80s while the mid-tempo Rock’n’Roller “Speedwagon” enabled guitarist David Andersson to provide the first of many flamboyant solos of the night.
Colleagues in Soilwork and sharing the same stages for many a year, Strid and Andersson clearly have established a very special bond and that is possibly the reason why the gigantic front man felt comfortable showering the bold guitarist with tons of glitter during the massive-sounding Hard Rock anthem “Midnight Flyer”, which together with the melody-infused “Turn To Miami” and the Springsteen-influenced “Star Of Rio” were amongst the highlights of band’s set.
It was during the performance of the masterfully-composed “Gemini” that I began feeling slightly concerned about Strid’s vocal state but the tall Swede managed to soldier on and offered a pretty decent rendition of the said classic.
As the tempo of the music began to slow down and the main melody of the Styx-sounding “Something Mysterious” made its presence felt the forty year old singer got a much needed breather which helped bring things back to normal. Prompted by the band to showcase its dancing abilities, the crowd replied in kind and remained engaged during the performances of both the sing-along anthem “Paralyzed” and the Thin Lizzy inspired “Can’t Be That Bad”.
Introduced by a simple/moody piano tune and featuring moments of real comical value, courtesy of Strind and his female colleagues, “1998” concluded the band’s main set, however the Swedes were soon back to perform three more tunes; the dynamic Deep Purple sounding opus “This Time”, the lovelorn ballad “Lovers In The Rain” and the chorus-based rocker “West Ruth Ave”.
Listening to the music of The Night Flight Orchestra on record is, in itself, quite an enjoyable experience but watching them perform on stage is a totally different ballgame! These guys really know how to throw a party so make sure that you catch up with them while they are still touring Europe – believe me, you really don’t want to miss this opportunity!
Review & photos by Ioannis (John) Stefanis
Black Mirrors Set List:
1. Intro 2. Shoes For Booze 3. Gunther Kimmich 4. Funky Queen 5. The Mess 6. Inner Reality 7. Moonstone 8. Cold Midnight Drum 9. Lay My Burden Down 10. Kick Out The Jams (MC5 Cover) 11. Burning Warriors
The Night Flight Orchestra Set List:
1. Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough 2. Living For The Nighttime 3. Speedwagon 4. Midnight Flyer 5. Turn To Miami 6. Star Of Rio 7. Gemini 8. Something Mysterious 9. Josephine 10. Paralyzed 11. Can’t Be That Bad 12. 1998
Encore 13. “This Time” 14. “Lovers In The Rain” “West Ruth Ave”
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 2 August 2020.
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09:00-12:00 LIONVILLE Magic Is Alive (Frontiers)
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