Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Toxik Live at the Underworld

I only read about this gig a couple of days ago but what the hell I don't like to miss a killer thrash gig with a cool line up like this one. Of course this was Toxik's first appearance in the UK I believe and it was worth it to nab a late ticket to see these tech thrash legends for the first time. I must admit though I can't recall a single note of Think This and World Circus but I do know that they are held in high esteem by thrashers of a certain vintage. Another draw was the great supporting cast of Savage Messiah and Shrapnel. There was a fourth band listed which was a band called Ramraid.

Alas as I walked into the venue and went to check stage times I saw that Shrapnel were no longer playing. Big bummer indeed 'cause their new album kicks all kinds of butt. I don't why they weren't playing but playing they were not. First up were Ramraid. I detected a Scouse accent from the rotund front man so they were from up north hehe. They played regular thrash metal. They were ok and pretty tight but they only had about 20-25 minutes on stage. Not bad stuff and I will endeavour to check out their tunes online somewhere when I can.

With Shrapnel MIA, it was the turn of local masters Savage Messiah to get the slowly filling Underworld to rev up ready for Toxik. And boy did they do that! These guys are like a well oiled machine these days. They have a very engaging front man and a set of songs that really push the bar high as far as melodic thrash goes. They pumped up the 100 or so crowd with a superb set indeed. In fact they were even better than the last time I saw them a while back. These guys are just fucking killer. Everything about them screams metal and the live setting sees them really cut loose with mean face pulls and shredding guitars galore. Every song was a highlight and I could hardly pick a favourite as all the tracks tore the roof off. It wasn't a huge crowd with it being a Monday night but these guys played like their lives depended on it. They deserve to go on to much bigger things that's for sure. If Maiden had any sense they'd take them on tour!

Finally it was time for Toxik and some wicked shredding technical thrash and boy did they deliver. I didn't recognise even one song from the guys but they were tight as the proverbial gnat's ass. I have heard both albums many moons ago but I never got the chance to play them before the gig. I will play them again soon to see what I think about it now in 2014. The baldy guitarist was a shredder supreme with some sizzling axe work on show as well as plenty of bouncy jumpy riffs that made the moshers happy. My enjoyment of their set was reduced from being unfamiliar with the songs but nevertheless these guys were ace and it's no wonder there was clamour for them to make a comeback. The singer's high pitched voice was grating on occasion but thrash vocalising hardly matters too much now does it. They played three new songs which sounded pretty similar to their older material so it looks like they haven't missed a beat. A special mention for the bass player. The guy played awesome technical bouncy bass and pulled some mean and studious faces as he was banging away at his strings. Cool dude!

Another enjoyable night of thrashing goodness in the Underworld but it was a damn shame Shrapnel weren't there as advertised. Make sure you come next time you fools!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Within Temptation Live at Wembley Arena

Within Temptation is big business in Europe now and whilst this show was far from sold out Wembley Arena was packed with 8000 or so punters to see the symphonic Dutch troop go through their paces ably supported by newcomers Delain. My seat was unfortunately a bit far back from the stage but I guess the good seats had gone by the time I bought my ticket. In fact the seated areas were pretty much all sold out with the floor being pretty full at the front and more open at the back.

At 7.45 on the dot Delain took to the stage and played songs new and old from both their albums. They were afforded a clean sound thankfully and front woman tried to get the crowd going which was a little reserved at first but they gradually got the message. They played for 45 minutes in total and they were pretty much on top form and a great warm up act for the headliners. I guess their aim is to be the headliner in a show of this size. It might or might not happen for them but that's the aim. It's happened for Within Temptation. As for last night they were spot on although I must admit I have yet to get to grips with the new album which seems a little harder going than the debut in the sense that the melodies are a little harder to come by in my opinion anyway.

Go Away
Get the Devil Out of Me
Army of Dolls
Sleepwalkers Dream
The Gathering
Not Enough
We Are the Others

After a shot turn around time the roadies got the stage ready behind a Hydra backdrop so we didn't actually see the stage being set up. Finally at 8.45 the intro started and the band took to the stage and the guitarist played the opening riff to Let us Burn and the Arena floor was finally much more animated than it was for Delain not unexpectedly. Sharon sounded huge and the sound seemed to be twice as loud as it was for Delain but still pretty crystal clear with Sharon's vocals booming out over the top. The thing I like about WT on record is that their songs are just supremely catchy blessed with monster pop hooks. The question is can they transfer this to the live Arena? Well with the amount of experience they have under their belts now the answer is a resounding YES!

WT are a full time big Arena band now. Their songs demand an elaborate stage set and that's what they get with two fire breathing dragons ie Hydra at either side of a step tiered stage allowing band members to move up and down as they please and a short runway at the front as well allowing either Sharon or the guitarists to get closer to the audience a little. It was hard to say which songs went over best as all the songs were pretty much awesome. Personally I enjoyed Paradise which sounded monstrously huge with the video with Tarja playing in the background.

Surprisingly enough I loved their cover of Summertme Sadness in the encore, that was really great. Hydra is a great album no doubt and the band are just a highly tuned live outfit with a shed load of fans many of which aren't even really metal fans judging by many people that I saw. Their songs transcend metal pretty much these days and plenty of normal folk can enjoy a Saturday night out at Wembley with these Dutch symphonic metal stars as evidenced by the wide ranging audience. Whether they can go any higher I doubt but for a metal band to headline Wembley Arena you can safely say they've made it!

Let Us Burn
Paradise (What About Us?)
Edge of the World
In the Middle of the Night
Our Solemn Hour
And We Run
Tell Me Why
Elements Intro
See Who I Am
Stand My Ground
The Cross
Covered By Roses
Mother Earth

What Have You Done
Whole World Is Watching
Summertime Sadness
(Lana Del Rey cover)
Ice Queen