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PRAYING MANTIS, Bush Hall, London, 3 May 2009

Praying Mantis were never as big as they should have been; the music has always been more than accessible, even when the albums have not had a UK release. This intimate gig / launch party for the forthcoming 'Sanctuary' (Frontiers) featured plenty a rock journo and ardent fan alike, with many a t-shirt showing Rodney Matthews' artwork.

With expert PR providing both drinks and nibbles, and founder members Chris (bass) and Tino (guitar) Troy mingling, a good evening was guaranteed, even despite the poor PA sound and singer Mike Freeland's loss of voice, shortening the set. The Troy brothers were more than happy to sign my 'Predator In Disguise' LP, issued only in South Korea (officially) and a genuine rarity.

If you are not familiar with Praying Mantis, they were part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, releasing their own Soundhouse Tapes EP and touring with Iron Maiden, but the music was (and still is) far more melodic. With twin guitar, think Magnum with a tad less pomp and more NWoBHM relevance.

The 10 song set kicked off with 'A Cry For The New World', the title track from their 1993 album, a good opener, and was promptly followed by 'Children Of The Earth' from their 1981 classic debut 'Time Tells No Lies'.

A Maiden-like guitar solo sounded good too. 'Restless Heart' and 'Tears In The Rain' from the new album followed, the latter a slower more bluesy number, and were the first of several from the new 'Sanctuary' set. One, a more acoustic number, showed the band's versatility, and both Tino and Chris were more than happy to chat to the crowd between songs. And given the conditions and small stage, they were certainly enthusiastic

'Turn The Tables' finished the main set, with an encore of the classic 'Captured City' made for a good if short concert.

The new material, even the tracks I hadn't already heard, stood up well and were clearly appreciated. The band face the 30th anniversary of the NWoBHM with aplomb.

Review by Joe Geesin

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