Well with the new Iced Earth album being so well received with new boy Stu Block at the helm, I wasn't going to miss this opportunity to catch Schaffer and co when they hit town last night. This is my second time seeing Iced Earth. The first was with Barlow back in 2003 when they played a near 3 hour solo gig which was one of those legendary gigs for all who were there. Of course they weren't going to play for 3 hours tonight but I've been looking forward to tonight since I got my ticket a couple of weeks ago.
Support acts were named as Fury UK and White Wizzard, however due to some reason WW did not play as indicated on a notice on the club doors as you walked in. I think there is some trouble in their camp with personnel from what I read on forums here and there. I wouldn't have minded seeing WW as it goes but I'll get over it as I haven't even played their new album yet even though I do like the first one.
As for Fury UK, well they are a decent band. Very tight trio playing trad metal with tons of solos from the lead guitarist/singer. The only problem with them was that their songs weren't nearly memorable enough or catchy enough to get me and most of the crowd too excited to be honest. The lead playing is pretty shit hot though if you fancy watching sparky fret action though. An ok warm up band that needs tunes to back up the playing skill IMO.
Finally after quite a long and painful wait of about 35 minutes( yes I was counting everyone!) Schaffer and co took to the stage and were greeted like returning war heroes from the pretty packed out Islington Academy. It was not quite sold out but I'd guess a good 500 or so turned out seeing as it was a Friday night and a great way to start the weekend for sure with this being the starter for many and Manowar being the main course tomorrow.
Anyway on with the show and let's see what this new boy Stu can deliver live for the Icy ones. Well to say he was perfect would be slightly over the top but he was as close as it's possible to being perfect right from the word go when they launch into the opening track from the new album. Schaffer was pulling more mean faces than you can shake a stick at right in front of me as luck would have it and hammering those triplets out like there's no tomorrow. Stu mixed up his vocals between Barlow and Halford/Ripper screams to perfection. His screams were truly ear bustingly good it has to be said. The only department where Stu cannot match Barlow for me is in the emotional parts of IE songs. He does his best but Barlow just has something in his voice that makes those parts sound more melancholy and Stu doesn't quite have that in him yet though maybe it will come with age.
A lot of the new album was played with songs as such as the glorious Anthem, the manic V and the epic Triumph and Tragedy all sounding might fine and played with utter conviction. It seems Iced Earth are now a band reborn thanks to Stu's arrival. The guy has brought genuine enthusiasm to the band and you can tell they are not just going through the motions this time round. There is fire in their collective bellies and they mean business.
The show continued to it's climax with the encore of Dante's Inferno which was absolutely monstrous it has to be said and created the first moshpit of the night. Finally they broke into their namesake song, Iced Earth and the show was over at the rather early hour of 9.30pm with the curfew set at 10pm with a club night being held at the venue after. They played for nearly 90 minuted which was probably a little longer seeing as White Wizzard didn't play but that's all the better for the fans I suppose. The only thing I can quibble about slightly is the setlist which is of course the usual problem with fickle fans who miss their favourite songs at live shows. Yes and for me there was the lack of Stormrider and Pure Evil was quite a disappointment but I'll get over it.
The band was on shit hot form and perform with the kind of vigour that I didn't quite expect to be honest and it's all pretty much down to the new frontman. All hail the new Stu-iced Earth!
Oh and for those waiting for a report about Manowar tomorrow, alas I won't be going. I would have loved to go but the ticket price of £50 is just too much right now and I had to give it a miss. I would have liked to have seen Joey and co but it's not to be. Maybe next time if there is one.