The natural storms over London subside for one night leaving room for a metal storm courtesy of Hanowar, Dream Troll, Traveler and Riot City.
Brought to us by Live Evil, all 4 bands brought their A game turning in performances that really gave off the feeling of a celebration of heavy metal. I must admit I went into the gig being aware, and a fan of Hanowar, being thoroughly excited about finally seeing Dream Troll and having never heard of either headliner, Riot City or Traveler. I have heard of them all now and they won’t be easily forgotten. The venue was a first for me too. It’s not bad to be fair. A good size and pretty good acoustics.
The fact it is often used for club nights meant the décor was a little away from the dank, dark basements we are more used to. Purple, sparkling walls aren’t a common theme, well, maybe other than in glam. The line of booths against the wall used to hold the band’s equipment suggested there wasn’t much of a backstage area either.
Probably the oddest part of the venue was that even though doors were due to open at 19:00, they were letting people in by 18:30 meaning the band’s were sound checking, and had luggage strewn around when we arrived with the bar refusing to sell beer until 19:00. Still, what matters really is the bands, the sound and the crowd and thankfully the gig had plenty of all three. First up on the night comes Hanowar.
Self billed as the worst Manowar cover band in the world, Hanowar are a tongue in cheek glimpse at what Manowar may have been once upon a time. Young, carefree and probably cheap to book. They are probably the ultimate warm up band for any act. Genuinely funny, they get the cold crowd moving, laughing and singing along with ease. They have all the gimmicks and jokes you would expect from a sort of party band but they aren’t short in skill either.
Hail and Kill gets everyone moving and throwing Manowar salutes. The band hand out plastic swords beforehand and beg fans to stop giving them back as they have thousands of them. We get a little bit of comical pyro as a sparkler/flare stuck on the end of the lead guitar gets lit. The band hand out party poppers for another bit of crowd interaction as songs like Fighting the World and Battle Hymn all get a rousing rendition as even the frontmen of Traveler and Riot City get on stage and join in on the vocals. Great fun.
Hanowar Links – Facebook
I have been waiting for this for a long time. The last time Dream Troll came to London, I was away and was desperate for them to come back. Here they are and there I was and it was as brilliant as I hoped for. Coming on after Hanowar is no small task. The crowd have just smiled there way through 30 minutes and are expectant and Dream Troll deliver. Loads of energy and immense musicianship shine through in a set I won’t forget anytime soon. The only negative was the early sound. The vocals started off a bit lost in I Will Not Die Today and the lead guitar was also a little too far back in the mix. I guess the sound guys noticed as it was resolved quickly enough as the band lashed through banger after banger with my favourite track getting an airing in Mons Ominosus.
I love this song and it is note perfect live. Follow that up with the big hitters like Steel Winged Warrior and Chrome Skull Viper all from their latest album, Second to None and you can easily see why these guys are making waves in the metal underground.
Now for the first of the new, to me, bands. Traveler, all the way from Canada, hit the stage and are instantly likeable by the insane energy they bring with them. The lead singer bounces around the small stage enthusiastically and forces your eyes to stay firmly fixed on the goings on. He kind of reminded me a bit of early Skid Row era Sebastian Bach.
The crowd has swelled even further by now suggesting I really should know who these guys are and hair is flying everywhere as neck muscles get a work out. A couple new songs get an airing. Speed Queens goes down well as does the cover of Gary Moore’s, Out in the Fields and the ripper of a song, STK. Very impressive stuff really from Traveler who have an insanely charismatic singer to go along with their obvious talent on the instruments.
So the last band of this brilliant celebration of metal are another new one to me. Riot City, also all the way from Canada. As amazing as every band has been tonight so far, Riot City really took things up another level. Taking to the stage to the Terminator soundtrack is a great way to start but the real selling point for these guys is their phenomenal singer. This guy reaches dangerous levels of pitch threatening to shatter every glass in the venue.
Songs like Steel Rider take the crowd apart with it’s goose bump inducing vocals and punchy guitars. A few new tracks get aired that I didn’t quite catch the name of before a small moment allows the crowd to show their appreciation with a deafening ongoing appreciation chant of “Riot City”. Everything about the set worked perfectly. The amazing vocals, the punchy riffs and smooth solos, especially shining through on the absolute banger that is In the Dark.
I had never heard of Riot City before this gig. I certainly won’t forget them now. Brilliant!
Overall, this was just an amazing gig showcasing some immense talent and a real love of old school metal. It genuinely felt like an all inclusive celebration. A party full of good vibes with the best possible soundtrack. All four bands should be immensely proud of that night. Not just for the impressive music. Also for the fact that they proved that the sprit of rock and metal is still very much alive and kicking and will be for some time with inspirational bands like these coming through the ranks.