Saturday, 8 January 2011

Firewind @ the Garage

Pretty soon into 2011 and one of my favourite power metal bands were in town to kick off the new year in style. Before the all conquering power metal geniuses known as Firewind blew us all away, we had two support bands to get through. Namely Breed 77 and Primitai. Actually Primitai who are a local band were not listed as being part of the show. I guess they are one of those local warm up add ons that aren't listed for some reason.

Anyway I missed the start of their set but caught about 4 or 5 songs in the end to get the picture. The band is merely ok in my book. They are not a horrible screamo band or a metalcore band thankfully. They are a modern heavy metal band with influences ranging from say Maiden to Pantera to some heavier power metal bands. The singer's voice is ok but he didn't have any great charisma about him or any really catchy melodies of note. The guitarist's are no slouches though and they played well. They finished at 8pm and got some "Primitai! Primitai!" chants from a few kids and quite a few headbangers.

Soon the stage was ready for Breed 77 - that's Breed Seven Seven and not Breed Seventy Seven by the way! They are a London based melodic modern cum nu-metal band from Spanish descent. They are basically like the UK's answer to Ill Nino or something along those lines. These guys have been around quite a long time in and around the London scene but I've never seen them not being a nu-metal fan but someone had obviously seen it fit to book them as support to a full on power metal band so here we are.

The sound was immediately much better for them than it was for Primitai which was a plus point. Their songs were built around jerky and melodic mid paced riffing with sometimes crooning vocals and other times Panteraesque screams. In fact to sum up the band they were like a more melodic Pantera with Spanish Flamenco influence with nice lurching grooves. The punters were sort of lukewarm to them. Some were totally getting it and headbanging and moshing furiously but the older power metal loving throngs were like yeah yeah get this nu-metal crap off.

I was sort of in-between to be honest. I thought they were quite good and had some tasty riffage which a power metal fan could enjoy but then they had the jump da fuck up nu-metal posturing to go with it which was like ok that's not good at a power metal gig is it lads! Anyway Breed 77 were in my eyes not too bad at all and their cover of the Cranberries Zombie was immensely fun and heavy actually and perhaps the most enjoyable song of their set. They played nearly and hour which is quite good for a support slot.

Finally at around 9.30 or just before the intro to Firewind's set started and the Greeks took to the stage fully revved up and raring to go. As you may know Bob plays both guitar and keyboards whilst on stage and he'd probably have you believe that he plays them at the same time but that's pushing it but on many occasions he has guitar hanging from his neck whilst tinkling the keyboards and switching quickly back and forth which is quite fun to watch. Gus G was wearing his privateer looking tunic or jacket as they burst into the opening cut from the new album, The Ark of Lies. Apollo ran on and he had much longer hair and looked much more metal than in the older days shall we say. They have a new drummer since the bald guy quit but good power metal drummers are probably ten a penny so no one really noticed the difference probably.

Appollo sounded in fine voice as second song Head Up High started up and it's familiar catchy chorus soon had the very healthy Friday night crowd bellowing along. I don't know what happened to the air conditioning in the Garage but that floor was wet and steamy last night from all the sweaty headbangers and song after incessant song of power metal bliss only made matters more steamy still. The new single World on fire was played ferociously by the band and sounded much better and heavier live than it did on record. Amazing performance on that one.

There was a slight lull shortly into the set were we had the all instrumental the Fire and The Fury followed by drum solos and Gus's guitar solo and basically no vocals for about 10 minutes or which I must say was a bit much. Is it possible to go to a gig and not have a drum solo please? It's fucking BORING!

Finally that useless skin bashing was over and we got back to the songs and what songs they offered up for the punters. The infectious Apollo vocal melodies were bursting out here there and everywhere song after song. I loved the new track Chariot - a pure highlight of the set. My Loneliness which followed slowed things down a touch but was nevertheless absolutely perfectly sung and played. Easily one of the best songs of the night as was Mercenary Man which followed.

Towards the end of the set we had the dance hit Maniac given the Firewind treatment which got the punters er flash dancing is it? Well anyway it was fun. At one point whoever was on the stage smoke generator got carried away a bit as well as the whole floor was swamped with smoke and you could barely see your next door neighbour never mind the stage. Bizarre! Tyranny was the last song of the main set and was greeted rapturously and played mightily fast by the guys.

They left but of course the encore was still to come. Firstly it was Into the Fire which is not a huge fave of mine but the following track is the ultimate Firewind song that I'd been waiting all night for and that's I am The Anger which was shredded from beginning till end and sung powerfully as always by Apollo. Finally at just gone 11pm they finished with one of their more melodic and less speedy hits Falling into Pieces which was a nice way to end.

I've seen Firewind 3 or 4 times now and they never disappoint in the live setting. Mind you when you have so many cool tunes how can it possibly go wrong eh? They played around 90 minutes and on a Friday night that's a great way to start the weekend and on the plus side the rain had stopped and it was actually mild outside! Bring on the weekend!

  1. Encore:

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