Edguy

support White Wizzard + Inner Eden
author GR date 20/03/10 venue Islington Academy, London, UK

Given there are times when the gig landscape is rather barren, it can get annoying when the opposite becomes an issue. So it was on this surprisingly warm London day - some Germans and Americans may have been invading Islington Academy, but elsewhere in the capital there were at least two other shows happening that would have been worth checking out. Still, better than living somewhere with no gigs, right? With patch jacket donned and preliminary beers downed, it was time to head out for what promised to be a night of cheesy but thoroughly enjoyable heavy metal.

Inner Eden

Unfortunately, thanks to the Academy's club night meaning a gig curfew of 10pm, proceedings kicked off pretty early and this meant I missed opening act Inner Eden. Before the gig I took a guess that they were a female-fronted band just from their name alone and a quick Google proved this to be correct. This means they were unlikely to have impressed me much, but others who did see their set reported them as being decent enough although ultimately pretty average. Still, if you like that kind of stuff, why not check them out?

White Wizzard

My Facebook status before the gig attested to the fact I was looking forward to seeing White Wizzard perform more than the night's headliners. This had something to do with their re-released "High Speed GTO" gaining a spot in my top 5 albums of last year and latest record "Over The Top" quite possibly repeating that 'honour' this year. Coupled with a previous live experience when they were sans bassist at Earache's Xmas party, this chance to finally see them in their full glory was a most welcome one. Maybe it was because of these expectations, then, that their set was a tad disappointing. That's not to say it was bad, far from it, but I was more than ready for a performance worthy of the upper echelons of our scoring system - but I guess that's what a bit of genuine excitement and a few pints will do for you. In reality White Wizzard put on an enjoyable, if unspectacular show as they tore through a collection of songs mainly culled from "Out Of Control" ("Celestina" and "High Speed GTO" being the exceptions), blasting the audience with their NWOBHM-influenced sound.

They suffered throughout from a slightly poor mix which dampened the impact of their catchy riffing somewhat and Wyatt Anderson's vocals were showing a few signs of strain, but the undeniable quality of tunes such as "40 Deuces" and the epic "Iron Goddess Of Vengeance" shone through and seemed to go down well with an admittedly static crowd. The band missed the opportunity to really get energy levels pumping by sticking to their own spots on stage rather than charging around the place, but headbanging and general rocking-out ensured a decent presence was felt and most of the trad-metal performance boxes ticked. Whilst there wasn't much movement within the venue, front-man Anderson did try to inject a little enthusiasm into the audience and was rewarded with plenty of cheers from the front. The biggest response, however, was initiated by Jon Leon's bass intro to "Out Of Control", highlighting the spontaneous and timeless joys of such straight-ahead heavy metal. A solid set from one of trad metal's current leading lights.

Edguy

A few trips to the bar later and it was time for headliners Edguy, who hadn't quite managed to sell the place out but are more of a draw over here than you might imagine, with the venue housing a healthy number of fans. I must admit to only owning one of their many albums, 2004's "Hellfire Club", and not having seen them live before (unless you count the last minute of their set supporting Dragonforce a few years ago), so I was unsure if these cheeky Germans were going to impress me or not. After a bit of a slow start featuring songs I both didn't know and don't remember, all the factors slowly but surely fell into place for an excellent and highly enjoyable set.

Unsurprisingly, the iffy sound endured by White Wizzard had disappeared, allowing for crystal clear renditions of the band's upbeat, crowd-pleasing power metal anthems. The combination of quality songs and a band clearly enjoying themselves is always going to be a winning one, but Edguy's ace-in-the-pack is band leader and vocalist Tobias Sammet, a man born to entertain. Bounding around the stage with suspiciously fashionable scarf in tow, he endeavoured to involve every last audience member and was greeted with much enthusiasm. I'd seen him command the stage in a very different setting (in front of the masses at Wacken with side project Avantasia) and much of the same bombast was present in his spirited performance.

Displaying a sense of humour stereotypically not associated with Germans - comments such as "on the guitar...the guitar player!" and something amusing about Scots baring their arses and painting themselves blue - made for between-song banter that had me laughing and warming to the band even more. The top-notch showmanship continued with Sammet splitting the crowd down the middle and getting each side to cheer on cue. A tried (some might say tired) and tested technique, yes, but one that was effective all the same, with the audience in fine voice. It was a while before any songs I recognised were played, but the fact three from the aforementioned "Hellfire Club" got an airing suggests it's a well liked album; the ridiculously tongue-in-cheek "Lavatory Love Machine" and epic "The Piper Never Dies" being highlights of what seemed like a fairly lengthy set. The cheesy metal clichés worked in Edguy's favour for the most part, although an extended and frankly rather boring drum solo suggested they should think about reigning some elements in a little - but hey, perfect time for a trip to the toilet.

With the audience firmly in the palm of their hands, the band said "thank you to England" by breaking into "The Trooper" (I needn't mention who by, even the most un-metal of readers should know!) at the end of ballad "Babylon" and rounded the evening off the uber-catchy "King Of Fools". The cheers were ringing loud and clear as Edguy left the stage, having proven to me and presumably everyone else in the venue that missing their set at Bloodstock this summer would be foolish indeed.

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