When I recently reviewed DragonForce’s Reaching Into Infinity album, I declared that it contained some of the finest guitar moments that I heard on an album for a long time. Listening to the album got me so excited about seeing DragonForce live that it became one of my most eagerly anticipated tours of this year. On the way to the gig though, I suddenly had a scary thought… what if the guitar magic generated by Herman Li and Sam Totman in the studio didn’t carry over to sound the same live?
I need not have worried because DragonForce put me out of my misery very early on indeed. After a relatively long intro to “Ashes Of The Dawn”, the band erupted into a wall of guitar sound; a sound that was only amplified in an intimate venue like 170 Russell. That wall was then joined by Marc Hudson, whose vocals were in full flight and spot on from the get-go. As the night went on, I found myself thinking how much I would love to see a scream-off between Hudson and The Darkness lead singer, Justin Hawkins… the results would be fascinating.
The one thing that does come through during a DragonForce show is the way that the band does something special during each song to make the night memorable for the audience, and man. Was this a gig that people got into. From people singing along to every lyric on the evening; to some good old-fashioned hard-rock/metal jumping right through some slow claps, the band had the audience willing to do anything for them.
So epic was the sound created by DragonForce that during “Seasons”, it felt that the band was playing a crowded stadium show, and they kept feeding off the energy of the audience. At times during “Seasons”, the lighting, his hair and confidence, made Hudson look like He-Man. That crowd energy continued to energise the band, and the high jumps and guitar duels saw tracks like “Heroes Of Our Time” have a 1980s sensibility that I never thought I would ever see in my time again.
At 170 Russell last night, DragonForce not only showed me that they could deliver their new tracks exactly the way they sounded on the album but put on an absolute clinic with their older tracks. The band were brilliant all night, from amazing guitar solos to a lead singer that is at his absolute peak, through to a drummer that at times sounded like he was going to drum his arms off. While putting on a sensational set, DragonForce even remembered to have a little bit of fun – playing up to photographers and daring each other to skull bottles of alcohol. This was like a flashback to a simpler time, and boy I loved it.
Photos by Sofie Marsden