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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