||DRAGONFORCE CRY THUNDER AT OUR BLACK HEART
Dragonforce: Our Black Heart, Camden Town, London
19th April 2017
Words and pictures: Dave Bonney
I guess a few eyebrows were raised when Dragonforce announced that they would play upstairs at Our Black Heart in Camden Town to celebrate the release of their new album, 'Reaching Into Infinity', next month and also as a prequel to their world tour which kicks off in Asia in a couple of weeks.
You could hardly get a more intimate gig and according to management, only a "handful" of tickets were actually put on sale, selling out in minutes, with the rest going to the hacks and PR, though I suspect most local die hards found their way in, and in fact the band tweeted on the day that twelve tickets had become available and they didn't last long. One thing's for sure, there definitely won't be any trampolines in use tonight.
By the time the doors opened upstairs a queue had formed out to the downstairs exit, with everyone vying for the best spot. Not wanting to scramble with the hordes and being shall we say, short of leg, I had already accepted I would probably be listening to the gig more than actually watching it.
Squeezing themselves onto the stage, the band opened up with 'Operation Ground And Pound', quickly (well it is Dragonforce) followed by 'Seasons' and 'Heroes Of Our Time'. The 'fans' were going crazy down the front and this was shaping up to be a barnstormer.
The emphasis of this gig was obviously on fun with Sam Totman and Herman Li trading battle licks, trying to out do each other, and with Li almost setting fire to the neck of his Ibanez which led to Totman mockingly taunting him. This guy must have asbestos finger tips.
'Symphony Of The Night' led into 'The Game', showcasing the overworked rhythm section of new-ish drummer Gee Anzalone and Fred Leclercq, which, weighing in at 240bpm is, according to singer Marc Hudson, the fastest Dragonforce song, though after having the privilege of hearing the new album, I reckon that stat could soon be history.
Hudson then produces the signal that most people over thirty years old dread, yeah you know, the one that has you scurrying for sanctuary behind the nearest pillar or to the bar, the one where he points into the crowd and moves his index finger in a circular motion. That's all it took to turn about fifty fans into dervish whirlwind maniacs.
Circle pit?... we'd have been safer in a bear pit!
This gig was a party and that was emphasised when Dragonforce tour manager Joyzi emerged from backstage with a tray of Jägermeister shots which were quickly devoured by the band and the front row.
Tonight's highlight was a toss up between new song 'Curse Of Darkness' which was incognito on the set list, marked as 'Carrots', and Hudson crowd surfing from the stage to the bar at the back of the room and back to the stage again during the obligatory 'Through The Fire And Flames'. But he didn't manage to grab a drink at the bar while he was there.
In between the two contenders, the band tore through 'Cry Thunder' and 'Valley Of The Damned' with a Dragonforce-ized cover of the Johnny Cash classic 'Ring Of Fire' sandwiched in-between, along with a spontaneous outburst of Manowar's 'Hail And Kill'... insane!
This was one of those "I was there" gigs and it was brilliant to see the band stripped down and enjoying themselves so much in this environment, something I hadn't seen since The Barfly in 2005.
It was also great to see Hudson back to his best after being signed off by doctors and temporarily being replaced for a couple of festival gigs last summer.
Overall this was a fantastic evening of Nintendo Metal and a great appetiser for the new album, and with my Dragonheart pumping for more, I can't wait for the Electric Ballroom gig in October on the already sold out UK tour.