There was obviously some misunderstanding somewhere along the way. As I approached the ‘Scala’ I was mentally geared to witness Symphony X, Nevermore, Psychotic Waltz (on their reunion tour) and Thaurorod. Mere minutes before the event got going, I discovered that ‘only’ PowerQuest and Symphony X were going to be there. Not to worry, I thought to myself, the ‘updated’ bill was still enough to whet my appetite.
Despite arriving punctually for the gig, a sizeable queue had already taken shape in front of the venue. A few moments later (just the time to down a cold drink) and the queue had inflated into a line further than my eyesight could make out. To pass the time while waiting to get in, I undertook a quick - and highly unscientific - demographic survey of this human ‘snake’ and it seemed that fans were convening from far and wide to this corner of London. I rubbed my hands with glee….and with a feeling this is going to be one helluva gig!
Before tonight, my familiarity of PowerQuest was limited to the band’s “Magic Never Dies” album of 2005, which despite its leanings onto the poppier side of Metal, I must say I had quite enjoyed. (Reinier de Vries, one of my accomplices at The Power Of Metal webzine, had some kind words to say on their most recent album, so I must check that one out at the first available opportunity.) Since the last time I had heard the band, PowerQuest underwent some line-up changes. Sure enough this must be one of the first tours of PowerQuest featuring vocalist Chitral "Chity" Somapala (previously with Firewind and Civilization One, amongst other bands). Judging from tonight’s gig, he really seems to have fitted in well with the band.
The axe-work of PowerQuest came across as unadventurous with an over-reliance on that fast but uniform string-picking that Dragonforce like to use. In fact the whole set sounded a tad bland. In their defence, the band members put their hearts and souls into the performance and they really seemed to be enjoying themselves. Inevitably they infected the audience with that same feel-good vibe.
PowerQuest used tonight’s show to unveil the band’s recent “Blood Alliance” album, from which most of their set was taken. All in all, theirs was quite a decent performance.
Crunching the Numbers
Wings of Forever
I’ve always thought that the members of Symphony X were collectively great composers, brilliant musicians and excellent lyricists. Well, tonight I discovered that they’re awesome performers too.
From start to end Symphony X never let their guard down – they were tighter than commuters using London’s underground trains at rush hour. All the band members shined individually. However, I was particularly impressed by vocalist Russell Allen whose singing was pitch-perfect. And considering the complex melodies and phrasings of Symphony X’s lyrics, that’s quite an accomplishment. On Russell’s right, guitarist Michael Romero made playing the guitar seem so easy (if only it were so!). In ‘Evolution’ I lay awestruck less than half a metre away from him as he appeared to gently caress his guitar’s neck with both hands while the guitar responded like a songbird in heat.
Their set sounded a bit too short (that’s usually a good sign, in fact) but I enjoyed every bit of it – especially ‘Evolution’ and ‘Smoke and Mirrors’. There was a poignant moment when Russell Allen dedicated ‘Paradise Lost’ – the title-track of their magnum opus – to the tragedies currently afflicting Japan. As the set approached its end during ‘Sea of Life’, Michael LePond made sure he left his mark with a couple of funky bass guitar solos. According to Russell, tonight was the very first time Symphony X performed ‘Prometheus’ and ‘Dehumanised’ – 2 songs to appear on the band’s much anticipated “Iconoclast” album, out later this year. I’ll postpone judgement until I can listen to the songs carefully once the album is out but I can say that they fitted in well with the rest of tonight’s set.
The hard-core Symphony X fans that thronged the venue were all ecstatic and when the audience sang in unison the lyrics to ‘Evolution’ you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be moved. After getting such a warm welcome, I’ve no doubt that London will be hosting Symphony X again when the band releases “Iconoclast”. I, for one, can hardly wait!
Of Sins and Shadows
The Serpent’s Kiss
The End of Innocence
Inferno (Unleash The Fire)
Smoke and Mirrors
Evolution (The Grand Design)
Set the World
Eve Of Seduction
Sea of Lies
Attending: Chris Galea