As I arrive at a sold out, heaving and sweaty Astoria the largely male crowd is being wooed by Germany’s cheesiest power metallers Edguy in aid of their latest release Rocket Ride.
Between repeatedly pleading for groupies and the purchase of their merchandise the somewhat balding and incredibly clichd Continental quintet find time to pose lots, laugh at themselves and drop in an audience winning Iron Maiden cover.
Following a rapturously received intro soundtrack of metal godfathers Slayer, power metal’s latest poster men Dragonforce take to the stage, smash into their opening number and turn their fanatical audience into a frenzied sea of flailing locks and raised fists.
Nearly eight minutes (and many double tap guitar solos) later we are wished a good evening by front man ZP Theart who, we are to discover, likes to swear, shake his clenched fist while singing and have his mic stand thrown on stage to him after every instrumental solo.
Storming The Burning Fields demonstrates some truly insane guitar work from the true hero of the evening – Mr Herman Li. Swirling his tresses, which have now grown longer than those of a fairytale princess locked in a tower awaiting rescue, the diminutive guitarist makes his six-string wizardry appear so unbelievably effortless that tears can be seen in the eyes of many a leather-clad devotee.
The ridiculous Operation Ground And Pound delivers some astoundingly brutal drumming courtesy of Dave Mackintosh who, like ZP Theart, likes to swear a lot from behind the mammoth scaffold of his kit. This is followed by the majority of the band leaving the stage in a sea of blue light for keyboardist Vadim Pruzhanov’s solo introduction of Trail Of Broken Hearts, which simply put is the power metal ballad that didn’t quite make it into the Lord Of The Rings closing credits.
Soldier Of The Wasteland provides Sam Totman and Herman Li the first of a few opportunities to slip drastically out of synch with each other during their joint show-off slots. However, they are swift to rectify this and merely laugh off the trip-ups safe in the knowledge that there are very few people who can play with their dexterity, and thus even fewer who could stand to criticise!
It is during these latter songs that ZP Theart catches a “fan’s” flag thrown on stage. He proceeds to mount it upon the stage set, but fails to notice that the band’s “oh so metal” moniker has been ever so slightly edited to now read “Dragonfagz”. Although the majority of the audience either do not notice this rather cheeky gesture or are too amused to break it to the band, the real test of Dragonforce’s sense of humour will be to see if this episode makes it on to the DVD that tonight’s show is being filmed for.
Closing with crowd pleaser Valley Of The Damned after well over 90 minutes on stage, Dragonforce show they have both the determination and stamina to start their domination of the heavy metal planet in 2006. At a time when peroxide fringes and vicious windmill moshing are attempting to capture metal, this bunch of long-haired musicians are proof that it’ll take more than three-chord beatdowns to destroy the spirit of the old skool.