Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Symphony X / Power Quest Live Report

Oddly enough the main draw for me on this occasion was to witness the kings of English power metal, Power Quest. I have already seen them before but of course not with new singer Chitty and also not without such a stupendous album under their belts. Unfortunately there was a massive queue snaking round the Scala and the late entry time of 7.30 had fearing the worst about missing the start of PQ's set and yes by the time I rushed upstairs and in without getting my customary pint, I saw that PQ were already into their set in front of an already very well packed out Scala.

In fact the attendance was a bit surprising and I think Sym X could have probably filled a venue twice as large to be honest such is their popularity. Anyway I digress, as I want to say a little about the PQ guys and their great performance. The sound was nice and clean with Chitty sounding in perfect form on the mic. I must admit I had some reservations about Chitty in PQ but I was proved totally wrong in every aspect. The guy nailed his vocals in every aspect and even managed some of the highs and then some of the previous singer Alessio.

I am glad I made it in for Crunching the Numbers which is just an awesome song off the new record Blood Alliance. Another World was also a highlight with it's swirling keys and highly addictive melodic mid tempo. However it was the new songs that did it for me although I did miss Rising Anew at the start of the set. I just love the commercial aspects of the power metal that these chaps play. Their fairly brief set which I missed 2 songs of, ended with the supremely catchy 80s sounding melodic anthem Better Days with it's massive catchy hook and dreamy backing vocals. That song was just a great way to end the show. I am not sure if everyone fully got into what PQ were doing as there were probably quite a lot of people there for Sym X only but for me it was the other way round. Can't wait for Purple Turtle, a longer set and no missed songs.

Finally at 9.15 or so Sym X lumbered up on stage and started tearing it straight up like they do. Unfortunately the sound was not so hot from my vantage point next to the soundboard pretty much. I could hear tons of drums and bass, almost no keys and wishy washy guitars, though the vocals pretty loud. This situation lasted a couple of songs but slowly seemed to improve though I think with Sym X being a one guitar band also hinders them a touch. Oh and I don't think I really heard the keys much all night when others instruments were playing.

Anyway what of the band's live performance. These guys are sheer pros at this metal game. Russell Allen is a great marauding front man with a heck of a powerful voice and has the front rows eating out of his hand literally. The rest of the guys are less animated though they smile a lot and have their moments here and there but the band is completely led by Mr. Allen as he is a truly great showman and is the focal point of the band. The songs they played were all their hits plus a couple of new tunes which actually sounded very solid and heavy though it was hard to judge how catchy there were. We were also lucky enough to have a world premier of the song Prometheus which was a very heavy song indeed. I think if you like Sym X in heavy mode, then you'll like this new album a lot. The riffing is far more jagged and heavy sounding, almost grinding shall we say.

Towards the end of the show the crowd was completely won over by the band and were making a hell of a noise with a whole heap of lyric singing much more than I would have imagined actually. It's a surprise how many know the words to the songs word for word. Personally speaking I enjoyed the spectacle of watching them plying their progressive metallic trade to perfection even though the songs do not speak to me on a personal level. I actually quite enjoyed the fact that the band is SO popular and yet pretty underground even in metal circles.

Come encore time the crowd chanted loudly for Odyssey their monumental epic track but I knew there was no chance of that being played cause we'd be there all night but anyway they did come back of course to a rapturous welcome again and played a furious triumvirate of songs with which to end the show and once again getting a huge send off from the crowd.

As I was leaving I saw the ubiquitous London prog metal gig goer and promoter, Chazzy F chatting with Chitty and I said a quick hello and also had a chat as Charlie introduced me, though I'm not sure Chitty actually knew who I was from my web persona on various metal boards but he was very friendly anyway! I gave him and the band lots of compliments which I assured him was not back handed and I wasn't just kissing his rockstar ass hehe! I am mightily impressed with the band these days and all the new members and they have improved no end. Chitty is such an enthusiastic and likeable guy and very friendly to boot. I thanked him for the show and his performance and said good luck and promised to see him in May which I already have my ticket for. He said he would get me and Charlie on the guest list but we've both already bought tickets but he told us to sell them on. I wanted to say a quick hello to Mr. Williams the band leader but alas time was short and he was busy chatting so I left it at that, maybe next time at the Purple Turtle!

Here's the setlist for Symphony X.

  1. (First time played live)
  2. Encore:

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