Kamelot

support Leaves Eyes + Adagio
author GR date 28/03/10 venue Koko, London, UK

It's always good to have a gig to look forward to. This is especially the case when your train journey back to London takes about double the time it should and you arrive at your chosen pre-gig watering hole to discover it closed for refurbishment. Add in the fact said establishment would have been offering a certain Danish lager at a wallet-pleasingly low price and you don't have the best of starts to a Sunday in the capital. So what better way to improve the day than an evening of power/progressive/symphonic metal, of one form or another? Ok, I'm sure many of our readership can think of better ways but that's not the point; I'm trying to get a snapping intro going here!

Adagio

Let's cease my blithering and get down to the gig. Unfortunately, much like my last live review, I'm not able to give much analysis of the opening band - in this case France's Adagio. I can reveal a little more this time around, as although their earlier-than-normal start time caught me off guard, I did at least see the end of their set. I've since found out the band recently split with their vocalist, which presumably means the guy fronting the band for this tour (prolific Swede Mats Levén) didn't get much rehearsal time - credit to him then, as I didn't notice anything that would have hinted at that fact. His strong vocals fitted Adagio's progressive, Symphony X-esque metal nicely and the band as a whole seemed to have good chemistry. I didn't really see enough to deal out a grade, but with a decent stage presence and impressive musicianship, Adagio certainly had me wishing I'd entered the venue a bit earlier to properly gauge what they have to offer.

Leaves' Eyes

I'm sure you'll be at least familiar with the name Leaves' Eyes, as the Norwegians/Germans are pretty popular in the female-fronted symphonic metal genre - a fact which sees a decent crowd before them tonight. I must admit (and the same applies to most of their contemporaries too) that I wasn't particularly familiar with the band, bar what their singer - ex-Theatre of Tragedy frontwoman Live Kristine - looked like. With her blonde locks, ample bosom and soaring voice, she typifies a sub-genre that seems to be revered and reviled in equal measure throughout the metal world. The band kicked things off with the title-track of latest album "Njord", an epic number that set the tone for both their overall sound and performance: slow to mid-paced symphonic/gothic metal and a perfectly passable but ultimately uninspiring show.

That's not to say the band didn't try; second - and fairly infrequent - (harsh) vocalist Alexander Krull [band trivia: he's married to Liv Kristine] spent much of the set bounding from one side of the stage to the other trying to whip up the audience, with a decent amount of success to be fair, while the rest of the band provided a solid backing. The focus of such a band is undeniably going to be the frontwoman and for her part Kristine played the elegant entertainer much as I had expected; hitting all her notes, engaging the audience with grace rather than the usual metal aggression and showing us a cleavage that will be familiar to anyone who has seen Leaves' Eyes' promo photos. Despite all this though, they never really 'clicked', for me anyway, and failed to achieve the kind of atmosphere needed for a great performance. Overall the band were above average, pulling off songs old and new to the delight of many around me, but had a tendency to come across as fairly bland during their less memorable material. They'll have to raise their game to compete with the rest of this year's explosive Bloodstock line-up, when they return to these shores in August.

6

Kamelot

Headliners Kamelot are a slightly surprising proposition, not because of their music, but because they manage to adequately fill a large venue on a Sunday night, despite a slightly ridiculous ticket price (£20 advance, £25 on the door - yes, £25! The same as a Motorhead gig!). That may not be unheard of for a lot of bands, but I didn't think Kamelot had the profile in the UK to achieve such a thing - although this being their only stop in Britain on the current tour probably helped bring in fans from further afield. So, did the fans - a lot of whom, it has to be said, we very enthusiastic - get their money's worth? Just about. Kamelot certainly appreciate how to put on a show, with a stage setup and lighting to match the grand surrounds of the Koko providing a slick production that is often lost in metal.

The performance itself was certainly decent; guitarist Tom Youngblood and bassist Sean Tibbetts were constantly in motion and vocalist Roy Khan struck a fairly commanding figure stage centre, upon a raised platform in front of his monitors. Despite the band's best efforts though, I wasn't fully engaged throughout the entire show, my attention wandering so much as to find myself taking a stroll upstairs to the balcony simply to check out an alternative view. Admittedly I'm not familiar with much of Kamelot's material, which did make their hour and forty five minutes of progressive power metal less enthralling than could have been the case, but the main let down for me was the sound. For once, it's a complaint about the sound that has nothing to do with the live mix - just the volume. That's right, it just wasn't loud enough! This might seem like a silly complaint, but it killed the atmosphere somewhat, lacking the full power and punch that should be integral to a live show.

Still, there were some memorabale moments during the set - mostly involving a rather striking female guest vocalist who, after singing on a song, returned (at least I assume it was her) for another in belly-dancer style and provided the intro to a third by being a solitary drummer at the front of the stage, for some reason wearing a blindfold. We were also 'treated' to both a keyboard and drum solo: my cue to head towards the toliet and bar. I might not know many track names, but can tell you the setlist featured plenty of fan favourites (going on people's reactions) as well as a couple of new songs from an album expected sometime later this year. The performance fell firmly into the 'good' category but never really looked like pushing any higher, suffering from the same lack of something special that Leaves' Eyes displayed.

7

Thanks to Jon Whittle for the photos

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