Kamelot / Firewind
4 April 2008
Islington Academy, London

A club night later meant a very early start at the Islington Academy and whilst we could hear openers Forever Slave from the door, by the time we had collected passes and entered the venue, the Spaniards had left the stage.

Gus G has got some real momentum behind Firewind now and it’s surely their aim to be headlining venues of this size before too long. The number of new Firewind t-shirts spotted around the venue tonight certainly points in that direction. However, tonight they are the support act and have only a seven song set to impress us with. Unfortunately, the frantic roadies on stage hint that there are one or two technical problems, possibly accounting for the band’s limited time, and it’s disappointing that Firewind are plagued by poor sound through much of their set.

The building acoustic intro of Into The Fire, very much in the vein of Metallica’s Battery intro, heralded Firewind’s arrival, with frontman Apollo Papathanasio last to take the stage. Apollo had been absent when the band appeared at Bloodstock Open Air last summer, with Henning Basse ably holding the microphone. It’s the first night of the tour and therefore understandably it seems to take a few songs for Apollo’s vocal to get into full flow, and he hid well his miss timed first line on second song Head Up High. That song was heavily reminiscent of Dio in its verses, before bursting into a typically melodic Firewind chorus.

The opening salvo had focused on the band’s brand new album The Premonition, but it’s the older I Am The Anger from Burning Earth that really sets the crowd off with more heads banging. Of course this is Gus G’s baby and he remains the main attraction of the band, with audience necks craning every time he commences a speedy solo. The chorus effect employed on those solos was reminiscent of Randy Rhodes guitar sound and worked well.

Whilst very hairy bassist Petro Christo seemed content to remain in the wings, Mark Cross didn’t mind taking the limelight, twirling sticks tipped with coloured LED lights during The Silent Code and setting off an air horn at its conclusion. Bob Katsionis, meanwhile, impresses as usual with combined keyboard and guitar solos and matching Gus G during a twin solo.

The incredibly melodic Mercenary Man wraps things up, running the gamut between Thin Lizzy, Bryan Adams and even Big Country!

Firewind set list:
Into The Fire / Head Up High / I Am The Anger / The Silent Code / Warrior / Falling To Pieces / Mercenary Man

This is Kamelot’s show though, which was evident by the elaborate stage set up featuring a framed drum kit, raised sections, banners, drapes, smoke cannons and an impressive lighting rig.

Following the Solitaire intro tape Kamelot kick off with the brooding Rule The World with Thomas Youngblood’s guitar positively roaring and a much more appetizing sound all round. Casey Grillo’s drums picked up the pace as When The Lights Go Down from The Black Halo quickly follows. Cheered on by a bunch of rather merry Norwegians to my left, frontman Roy Khan was pure class. His voice packed with both melody and feeling, Khan oozed calm charisma as he strode around the stage, acting out Soul Society.

As stated this was the first night of the European Tour and as such Khan explains we’re to be treated to some “World Premieres” tonight. In fact we get three with debut performances of The Pendulous Fall, Serenade and Edenecho. The latter of which opened with Jon Oliva style piano from keyboard player Oliver Palotai. To the other side of Grillo’s drum kit, a podium is occupied by a female backing vocalist who also stepped forward with a violin.

This has been a long journey for Thomas Youngblood, who first put Kamelot together back in 1992. Since then the band have put out eight studio albums, but tonight it’s only the last four that get a look in. Such dedication and perseverance must feel well rewarded tonight, with a packed London venue clapping along to a storming Forever, then being led into to singing along with Khan.

As Ghost Opera opened the encore, there’s almost a feeling that you’ve witness a show rather than a straight gig. This continues with lights searching the crowd as an excellent Karma brings proceedings towards the conclusion. Of course, Kamelot can not leave us without a rendition of the massively popular March Of Mephisto. The inclusion of Dimmu Borgir’s Shagrath’s vocals on this track, which tonight are on tape, really seemed effective in introducing Kamelot to a wider audience and it’s clear that this one was won over tonight.

Kamelot set list:
Solitaire (Intro) / Rule The World / When The Lights Go Down / Soul Society / The Pendulous Fall / Descent Of The Archangel / Abandoned / The Human Stain / Instrumental / Serenade / Elizabeth / Keyboard solo / Forever / Edenecho / Ghost Opera / Karma / March Of Mephisto