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Astoria, London May 19 2005

Not a full Astoria by any means which was surprising as I thought it would be near full. Viking Skull were support and their brand of no frills trad metal seemed to go down well with much of the crowd. But boy were they loud! In fact the sound was too loud at times throughout the night and certainly distorted the vocals for the support band. Sound wise they reminded me of early WASP meets the brutal assault of say Motorhead, in fact they would go down a treat supporting Motorhead. Not a bad band but I have seen and heard better.

Now to Europe who I was seeing for the first time and age has been kind to them as they still look the part (less the frilly perms of the 80’s of course!). It was, in a word, a storming set! Don’t be fooled into thinking it's all parping keyboards and gentle ballads for this band. Not when you have the sheer riffing frenzy of ‘Flames’ and ‘Start From The Dark’, both from last year’s album. But even their earlier tunes have bombast like ‘Wings Of Tomorrow’, the hit single that never was ‘Superstitious’ and ‘Seven Doors Hotel’. The newer songs do sit well with the older material especially the tracks played of the band’s first two albums that were much heavier than the late 80’s output.

Nice touch when vocalist Joey Tempest (who seemed to have a great time and loved the crowd’s reaction to the songs) dedicated ‘Hero’ to the late, great Phil Lynott and his band Thin Lizzy. There was an acoustic interlude with Tempest singing ‘Carrie’ (thankfully not as saccharine as the album version) and ‘Open Your Heart’. John Norum proved his worth with a short guitar solo and thankfully no drum solo - hurrah! The set closed with ‘Rock The Night’ and boy did the audience like that one.

Encore time saw ‘Cherokee’ and of course the famous keys that heralded ‘The Final Countdown’. Sure the lyrics are twaddle at times but you can’t say it isn’t a rock classic and it was no exaggeration to say the whole of the audience was singing along. Definitely a great gig and go see them live if you get the chance.

Review: Jason Ritchie

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