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Dragonforce in Tempe, Arizona

By CrpnDeth, Staff Photographer/Writer
Saturday, November 22, 2008 @ 11:26 AM


Support bands keep things interesting

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What an interesting night.

Hitting the stage first was a band called Powerglove, a band out of Boston that takes video games too seriously. While the band is musically sonic, it’s just kind of hard to get in to instrumental power metal versions of video game themes, let alone the costumes. How seriously can you take someone playing guitar who looks like a Mario Brother on steroids? No offense guys.

After Powerglove wrapped up their short set, “battle metal maestros” Turisas – named after their homeland's ancient god of war - hit the stage. Another band I had never heard of, so I was interested in seeing what else Dragonforce elected to bring on tour with them.

Wow.

Braveheart gone metal, complete with furs and face paint. And an accordion player. And a violin player. The band actually has built up an impressive list of festival appearances (Wacken, Tuska, Earthshaker, Party.San, Bloodstock, Nummirock, Summer Breeze) being that they are only on their sophomore release, 2007’s The Varangian Way.

Starting off with Battle Metal (from their debut release, 2004’s Battle Metal), the crowd was quickly in to them. Hell, a few diehards even dressed up like them. While the tune ends, and I am still deciding what to think of the band, with one simple statement vocalist Mathias Nygård scores his first points of the night: “We are from Finland, and we like to DRINK! But not that piss you call beer.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. With Anheuser-Busch being bought by the Belgian company InBev over the summer, we have hope on getting better brews in to our clubs. But that’s a different story for another time.

A Portage to the Unknown, One More and In the Court of Jarisleif quickly follow, much to the delight of the crowd. The band really isn’t bad, but I still can’t get my head wrapped around that whole ancient “Viking metal” moniker. To each their own I guess, like I said the band really is made of up good players, accordion, violin and all. Rasputin and To Holmgard and Beyond complete the band’s set.

Next up is highly anticipated Dragonforce. Three minutes in to the set opener, Heroes of Our Time off of Ultra Beatdown, amid the screams from the fans we are suddenly pitched in to a soundless abyss. Not one sound coming from the stage. Without skipping a beat, the pranksters (Sam, Herman and Frederic) quickly put their arms over their each other’s shoulders, bowed, and yelled to the crowd – “Thank you, goodnight!”. After the laughs, Herman stood on top of the monitor that was in front of the stage, and yelled “Who wants a guitar lesson tonight?”. A couple of kids behind me in the front row start going ballistic and catch Herman’s attention. “You play guitar?” he yells at one. “Well get up here!” and sure enough, security helps the kid over the barrier and on to the stage. Herman hands the kid the guitar he was wearing, goes back to his rack and gets another one, then comes to the front of the stage while pointing to the kid.

Marquee Theater – meet Bubba Hernandez.

But as fate would have it for this lucky fan, the sound came back on just before they two guitarists were able to do anything solid. Herman did manage to squeeze off a quick lesson on pulling the guitar up via the whammy bar.

After Bubba gets back in to the crowd, the band launches in to Operation Ground and Pound after vocalist ZP announces “Let’s just play the one they came to hear”. This was definitely a crowd pleaser, and always has been.

Gone from previous shows are the mini-trampolines, but the ever present stage antics and facial expressions remain. Tongues sticking out, “you call that a solo?” glances between Sam and Herman, and even the too-much-sugar induced dancing of keyboardist Vadim Pruzhanov showed the band still doesn’t take things too seriously.

The setlist was comprised mostly of tunes from Ultra Beatdown (Heroes of Our Time, Reasons to Live, The Warrior Inside and The Last Journey Home), with only two from Inhuman Rampage (Operation Ground and Pound, and Revolution Deathsquad; surprisingly the Guitar Hero III phenom Through the Fire and the Flames was absent). Rounding out the set was Fury of the Storm and My Spirit Will Go On (both from 2004’s Sonic Firestorm). Seems like a short set, but with an average song time of roughly 7 to 8 minutes, they put in a full show.

The band was flawless all night, however, its seemed like the band might want to find a little more depth on their next outing as supersonic guitar leads and video game inspired opening bands might not be what it used to.



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