The Electric Ballroom in the heart of London’s Camden Town is an iconic venue. It’s been around for over 70 years and has played host to, well, almost everyone at some stage in their career. Its future hangs in the balance though as it is still subject to potential compulsory purchase orders as a result of proposals submitted by the owners of the London Underground network. Having already defeated one proposition to convert the area into offices and chain retail outlets back in 2003 a fresh proposition is in consideration so who knows how much longer this great underground venue will last !
Tonight’s bill proves, if nothing else, that the area and the venue itself was made for live music. Three fantastic bands all finding a resurgence in their careers and clearly loving every sweat soaked metal minute of it.
First band of the night, playing to a two-thirds full room are Death Angel, the bay area thrashers who’ve built and maintained a solid following since their inception in the early 1980s. With a ten year break between 1991 and 2001 the band returned to find people still cared and they’ve gone on to release some solid albums with vocalist Mark Osegueda and guitarist Rob Cavestany the only ones to remain from early incarnations. Hanging onto your vocalist is key though to ensuring the sound and feel of the band remains intact though (more on that later!) so the band tonight look and sound like classic Death Angel.
Osegueda stalks, prowls and looks at times simply threatening but he and the rest of the band turn in a good, old school performance with an attitude that suggests they can easily hold their own with the younger upstarts coming through the ranks. ‘Claws in so Deep’ which I didn’t know before tonight really stood out and for me, a non thrash fan, that’s saying something.
Having released ‘The Dream Calls for Blood’ in 2013 and discovering their music was again sought after, (the album landed at 72 on the Billboard 200) Death Angel will enter the studio on October 1, 2015 to begin recording their next album, which is due for release in April 2016.
Left for Dead
Son of the Morning
Claws in So Deep
The Dream Calls for Blood
Thrown to the Wolves
(With ‘The Ultra Violence’ intro )
Armored Saint are like buses, you wait for ages for one to appear and then two show up. With Amored Saint, I’ve waited for years to see them and now within the space of two months, I’ve seen them play twice. The first show was on the main stage at Hellfest in France and whilst energised their set was somewhat mired by muddy sound. Not so tonight, crisp sound and a band firing on all cylinders, it’s a shame they’re only playing the London show with Queensryche. They’ve certainly helped bring a few people to the show tonight and several Saint t-shirts are seen during their set of old and new material.
Opening with the title track of latest album ‘Win Hands Down’, they immediately follow up with the classic ‘March of the Saint’. John Bush looks to all intents and purposes like a spritely Bruce Willis, sporting Brucie’s current shaven headed look. It’s quite a move away from the glory days of Armored Saint when Bush had one of the glossiest manes going. What does remain however is the voice and he’s also on fine form and shows no sign of wear and tear at all.
They put on a great show and set the stage perfectly for Queensryche. If it were any other band headlining, they’d struggle to follow the two openers this evening.
Win Hands Down
March of the Saint
An Exercise in Debauchery
Left Hook From Right Field
Reign of Fire
Can U Deliver
It is noted in the bible that on the first day, God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the lighting engineer who took it upon himself to bathe the members of Queensryche in red making it look like Slayer performing Reign in Blood rather than classic ‘Ryche tracks. As such, what was supposed to be a pivotal moment for me to tick off one of my favourites bands by shooting them from the pit, left me feeling somewhat short changed. Let’s hope they comeback soon so I can have another attempt at a different venue. The white lights did exist, they were screwed in when the red bulbs needed replacing later in the set. It’s just a shame they didn’t appear earlier on.
Lighting aside, the band were on fine form, blasting through a relatively short 75 minute set that covered everything from Queen of the Reich to Arrow of Time off the forthcoming, second Todd La Torre fronted album. Now let’s deal with the immediate elephant in the room. For those of us who’ve not seen the new LT fronted Queensryche, we’re in for a shock. His voice is identical and I mean IDENTICAL to a youthful Geoff Tate’s. It means that the old material is note perfect both musically and vocally and the new material sounds like classic Queensryche and helps us forget everything post Promised Land when the band simply lost their way. Who said a band needs only to retain their original vocalist to continue successfully…? Ah, yes.. I’ll get my coat then!
Once you get over the shock of the voice, you can stand back and simply enjoy one of the best performances the band have laid on for a crowd in years. Before Tate left the band, it felt like they were simply going through the motions and a degree of tension was definitely felt emanating from the stage. A show in 2011 at Sweden Rock left me feeling cold and wondering whether I’d bother seeing the band again.
All those nagging doubts dissipate once the band break [sic] into ‘Breaking The Silence’. It’s closely followed by ‘Walk In The Shadows’ , a classic from the ‘Rage for Order’ album and goes down a storm with the crowd. That momentum is maintained for pretty much the whole show, with my personal favourite ‘Eyes of a Stranger’ from my all time favourite album standing out as the highlight of the evening.
With three of the original members remaining in the band, Parker Lundgren a great addition on guitar and that voice, oh, that voice with La Torre, Queensryche are again a force to be reckoned with. Fantastic !
Return to History Tour
Breaking the Silence
Walk in the Shadows
Where Dreams Go to Die
The Needle Lies
Arrow of Time
Eyes of a Stranger
Queen of the Reich
Take Hold of the Flame