Saturday, 12 September 2015

Powerwolf - Live at the Islington Academy

My attendance for this gig was undeniable barring a broken leg or a heart attack or even death. I think even the first two wouldn't have stopped me coming to this gig though I might be struggling if the latter occurred!

I actually bought my ticket a good three months or so in advance. I didn't want to tempt fate in case it was sold out. The big Wolfie ones from Germany had previously packed out the Underworld but this time an upgrade was in order to the larger 800 capacity room of the Islington Academy. A much bigger stage to see my favourite power metal band in the world today. It used to be Sabaton but I think I like  da 'wolf even more now though of course it's a close thing no doubt. On the mainland Civil War plays as the opener but alas they did not travel to the London date so we had Xandria and Orden Ogan as main support.

The queue outside the venue was quite large and I would guess the final attendance to be not far off capacity although the place wasn't heaving by any means. It was packed but comfortable. When Sonata Arctica played the same venue a few months ago it was anything but and similarly for Night Ranger. For Powerwolf haven't quite reached those levels of fandom in the UK but nevertheless the crowd was very respectable already as Xandria took to the stage at 7pm sharp. Their singer Diane is a delight both vocally and visually and she sang her heart out. They have a new ep from which they played a couple of songs such as Voyage of the Fallen and Unembraced. I actually would have liked to hear their version of Meat Loaf's I Would Do Anything For Love but it wasn't to be. They sounded wonderful with Diane's awesome quasi operatic vocals cutting through the ix beautifully sharp and clear. They played around 40 minutes which is not bad for openers and they got a great response from the fans. Last time I saw them they headlined their own show but they were just as comfortable supporting but I'm sure they'll be back to do a headlining show sooner or later. Great start!

Just before 8pm the German power metal crew Orden Ogan took their positions in full battle armour and with big smiles on their faces. The singer "Seeb" was in fine form both vocally and flexed his muscles guitar-wise as well. The guy has a few one liners up his sleeve as well with in between song banter. The band got massive participation with their catchier tunes. My particular fave Sorrow Is Your Tale got an airing of course with it's awesome chorus ringing out true and clear. Their set went by in a literal flash and ended with the title track of the previous album To The End. The first time I saw these guys they supported Luca Turilli's Rhapsody and they stole the night. This time the surprise element from their show was reduced and I felt it wasn't quite their night although they are more or less a perfect choice as support for Powerwolf. Their newest album is amazing though and live they sound very good with Seeb's vocals in particular sounding very clear indeed.

Well support bands are just that in the end, a warm up for the main act, and in this particular bill, the other two bands were just playing second fiddle to the mighty blood obsessed ones from Germany. At around 9.15pm or so they took their positions on stage and dove headlong into headbanging new opener Blessed and Possessed. They immediately locked into that famous Powerwolf style of dramatic verses and huge choruses that they do so well. Atilla sounded amazing from the word go with a huge vocal mix. As usual Powerwolf play with no live bass which is actually a pretty cool thing as it makes the sound much clearer and sharper. In fact the sound was almost too perfect to be true. The Greywolf brothers were in fine form and as usual gurning and grimacing their way through the songs and pulling shaped and faces galore.

The stage was set up with two keyboards, one on each side of the stage, allowing organist and band cheerleader Falk Maria Schlegel to switch from side to side between the songs whilst coming to stage front on a regular basis to whip up the crowd as if they needed whipping up. The guy is a real enthusiast and really something else to watch as he gets the crowd to do the oohhhhs and aaaahhhhs and the singing along parts. Powerwolf shows are a real experience of dramatic lighting and awesome stage presence with full crowd participation. At times they really look and sound like they are summoning up some arcane Wolf Gods and calling them out for a night of bloodlust!

A little more on the setlist which is where my only point of criticism can come in. They missed a couple of my fave songs and most importantly of all the amazing We Are The Wild from the latest CD was sadly omitted. Of the other songs played one could hardly complain but I would have preferred a few more tracks from Bible of the Beast but alas they could only play a near enough 90 minute set but a three hour Powerwolf show would have been better to fit in all their great tunes.

Resurrection by Erection is an absolute riot of a hilarious tune and never fails to get the fists pumping. The crowd were hugely loud as expected and singing the choruses back at Atilla as loud as all hell. Dead Boys Don't Cry was another hell for leather riot. We Drink Your Blood never fails with literally everyone singing the chorus.

The encore started with the awesome Sanctified with Dynamite followed by the anthemic and slow burning Kreuzfeuer. I wasn't expecting them to play that one but that is an amazing track with the band bathed in dark and purple light it look like a scene from some medieval film as they played the song through. The night ended with a rousing, crowd pleasing All We Need is Blood with Atilla and Falk Maria again at stage front leading the frenzied crowd which even saw a small moshpit start up. Not really necessary but what the hell it was the last song of a riotous set.

The Greywolf brothers left and the last to leave were of course Atilla and Falk Maria who were both singing the lyrics to the song Wolves Against The World as it played out over the PA system. It was cool of them to stay long and milked the crowd's applause till the last drop. I pity those people who don't get to see this band live. They really are an amazing sight to be hold and with a set of songs guaranteed to get you singing and head banging along in a nanosecond. Long Live da 'Wolf!

Set list:

Blessed & Possessed
Coleus Sanctus
Amen & Attack
Cardinal Sin
Army of the Night
Resurrection by Erection
Armata Strigoi
Drum Solo
Dead Boys Don't Cry
Werewolves of Armenia
Let There Be Night
In the Name of God (Deus Vult)
We Drink Your Blood
Lupus Dei
Agnus Dei
Sanctified With Dynamite
All We Need Is Blood
Wolves Against the World

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