4 November 2011
Islington Academy, London
With the stage times brought forward an hour due to the club on after the gig, it was a dash to the Islington Academy to get there in time to see second support White Wizzard.However, on entering the venue, Fury UK were still on stage and we soon discovered White Wizzard had pulled out due to a car accident.They’ve since issued a statement confirming they were all OK.
Thanks to the setlist on stage, we also discovered Iced Earth had trimmed five songs from their regular setlist.With the main support missing it did seem odd that Iced Earth didn’t go on a bit earlier and treat us to their full set, rather than allocating extra time to the opening act which included padding out time with a drum solo.
Still, armed with that knowledge we put the set time disappointment to one side and prepared for the latest incarnation of Iced Earth.Mr Iced Earth himself, Jon Schaffer headed onto the stage first, with new vocalist Stu Block last to appear looking rather sheepish and also seemingly having forgotten his microphone.With that comically rectified, our initial concerns were swept aside as Block quickly hit his stride as new album title cut Dystopia opened the set.Mid song, Block roared, “Put your f**king horns in the air!”, which was willing followed by the crowd.
That first song alone had already demonstrated that Block possesses quite a range.His mid range vocal was very similar to long-time Iced Earth vocalist Matt Barlow, but he was also able to head up and reach the piercing highs of Tim Owens.Of course before those two, the band were fronted by Gene Adam and John Greely and Block’s versatility really worked well with songs aired from those era’s with Angel’s Holocaust, When the Night Falls and closer Iced Earth all making appearances.
For me, Iced Earth lost their way somewhat with their last two concept albums and it’s telling that there’s no inclusions from Framing Armageddon and The Crucible Of Man.Ditching the drawn out concept, Schaffer’s writing feels more focused on Dystopia and it’s leaned on most heavily with five inclusions.Obviously popular with the fans, the songs are well received.V was a particular high point, with Block’s vocal soaring as he pointed up at those watching from the balcony.Tragedy and Triumph introduced a major key, something of a departure for Iced Earth and formed a welcome diversion.
Prior to the new album’s release, to demonstrate Block’s talents the band put out a re-recording of the sixteen minute epic Dante’s Inferno.Its appearance therefore comes as no surprise and we marvel at Schafer’s machine like riffing, his right hand moving at seemingly impossible speeds.
However, as the song named after the band themselves wrapped up the set, we feel somewhat short changed to be leaving the venue at 9.30pm.
Iced Earth setlist:
Dystopia / Angels Holocaust / Slave to the Dark / V / Stand Alone / When the Night Falls / Damien / Dark City / Anthem / Declaration Day / Tragedy and Triumph / Dante's Inferno / Iced Earth