The return of the mighty Power Quest to the live arena was an event I was never gonna miss that's for bloody certain folks! When I heard that Steve Williams was resurrecting PQ after becoming disillusioned with the scene and the lack of support, I felt pretty happy since I have always enjoyed PQ albums a lot. Steve has a sense for melody that few song writers in power metal possess and I was glad he had gained enough momentum and will in the three years since the demise of the band to resurrect and rise like phoenix from the flames.
When I heard that the new singer would be Ashley Edison from Dendera I was even more happy to be honest. I have been following Dendera for quite a few years now and they kick unholy ass both in their recorded output and live too, so I had no doubts Steve had made the right call in hiring Ashley to sing. PQ has always had a number of singers in the past but I feel Ashley could be the best of the lot and so it proved with his superb performance of the songs, but more on that in a moment.
First support band were Reading trad metallers and of course my big faves, Primitai. The last two albums have seen them knock it out of the park twice in a row. They are fast becoming a live band to be reckoned with and in Guy Miller, they have a front man with the moves and powerful voice to keep up with the best in trad metal circles across Europe. The fact that the band is not bigger across Europe is criminal really. I don't know if that's by choice for the band, or that they just don't get the breaks, but there's bands who are much bigger but have half the talent and song writing ability. They played a short set mainly comprised of those muscular new tunes and a couple of older classics finished off with their set closing anthem Scream When You See Us. As usual they deliver live and then some and a great way to start the night off.
Next up were Norwich thrashers Shrapnel. I've actually been hoping to catch these guys live before but never made it for one reason or another. They have a strong technical bent in their songs and the rage is strong but the overly aggressive screaming vocals tend to draw back from the songs. They also had quite an average sound mix and every song pretty much sounded the same. I am looking forward to hearing their new record, but in the live setting it was a bit disappointing or at least ill-fitting compared to PQ and Primitai even if the singer did have a Rhapsody of Fire shirt on! A better middle support slot would have been the amazing Monument from London or even Savage Messiah but they were in America doing the ProgPower festival.
Finally after quite a long intro it was time for the all new Power Quest to take to the stage for a home coming show having thrown off the cobwebs the previous night in Derby. The Underworld was surprisingly well attended with a crowd of I would guess around 300 although it was a Saturday night. The sound was immediately much better and it turns out that Steve had flown in their own sound man for the gig. Steve's keys were particularly loud as you would expect, but all instruments were mixed pretty cleanly. The band launched into the one-two attack of Find My Heaven and Temple of Fire, two of their most well known and melodic songs which allowed the quite excited crowd to fist pump and sing along to the choruses.
In Ashley Edison, Williams has basically found the perfect vocalist for the latest PQ line up. The guy has a very clear pronunciation of lyrics and sings the songs with his own slant on things giving the songs a fresher flavour. In fact the band sounds better than ever and this was only their second comeback show and they have basically taken off from where they left off. One thing clearly noticeable was the camaraderie in the band with all members, the twins on guitars, feeding off one another making for a great live spectacle.
The awesome new track Face The Raven was of course played and sounded majestic live and bodes so well for when they finish the new album. They continued with further songs from their back catalogue which were all played with aplomb and perfectly executed. Steve Williams took the mic at one point and spoke at length about the comeback and how pleased he was with the return and honoured that the fans had turned out in good numbers to welcome them back. People from around the world had turned up it seems and even from Japan. Imagine coming all that way for a tiny band from England!
The band finally ended proceedings and were cheered to the rafters. I should point out that the Italian ex members in the band were out in full force and joined the band on stage for various duets and and solos including Alessio the original singer and Andrea the guitarist. Even Ashley's brother and band mate in Dendera, joined him on stage for a song and he actually has a really cool voice oddly enough.
All in all, a great night was had by all and it was a great welcome back for Power Quest. Now get on with the album guys we're waiting impatiently!