Luca Turilli's Rhapsody

support Freedom Call + Orden Ogan + Vexillum
author NR date 12/11/12 venue Islington Academy, London, UK

An announcement in August 2012 revealed that founding member and guitarist of Rhapsody of Fire, Luca Turilli, had decided to leave the band after 15 years, which was a huge shock to Rhapsody fans given the band's track record. But in the space of 3 months Turilli has been back on tour across Europe with a new band - another Rhapsody band?! Before that announcement was made, I checked out Rhapsody Of Fire at Bloodstock 2011 and I can honestly say they were my personal favourite of the festival. In a way, I was nervous about this show given the expectations that come with bearing the Rhapsody name let alone living up to the competition, but I was very intrigued to see how this panned out. I was just hoping the travel from Staffordshire to London would be worth it, as I was in for a night of ultimate cheese - just the way I like it.

Vexillum

Vexillum

For the first support act, Italian metallers Vexillum, I arrived to what should have been a fairly busy venue but instead was met by an empty room with a small audience occupying the barriers, which was a shock at first, but many soon followed. With a band name like Vexillum, I had this image of the band having a stereotypical 'brutal' appearance. I was wrong... Very wrong. Tall, hairy guys with... Kilts? But of course it is a cheese-fest gig so I was clearly having a 'duh' moment. I have not heard of these guys before so I was looking forward to checking them out for the first time on their debut tour and only UK date. I was also hoping they were wearing underwear...wouldn't have been a pretty sight. Listening to Vexillum on record, I couldn't quite dig Dario Vallesi's vocals, even when they the conventional style of what I'm used to in listening to various power metal bands.

At the gig it was a different experience - I very much enjoyed them live more than on album. Vallesi's vocals throughout were top notch and on key with an animated and genuine performance, with the band providing an adequate backbone and performing to the best of their abilities to what was a tough yet interested audience. Minus a few nervous glitches from their lead guitarist, it was a solid set, with songs such as "The Wanderer's Notes" which made me want to move my feet about. I love to do the ol' jig now and again.

As much as I preferred their live performance, the size of the audience combined with less than satisfactory lighting meant that overall the performance couldn't sink into my system. As much as I really wanted to enjoy it, I was too stubborn and grumpy about the lighting being awful. A moment that made me giggle was during a song where Dario shouted to the crowd "Let's dance!" and he stomped his feet, around in a circle with arms flailing by himself. I wish I could've got up there and joined him, that would've made my night. A tough but surprisingly entertaining set by Vexillum. I hope to have another opportunity to see these guys again in the future.

6

Orden Ogan

Orden Ogan

I downed my beer after a break for setting up for next support, Orden Ogan. Before this gig, I did check out their video "The Things We Believe In" from 2012 album "To The End" which made me remember how much I enjoyed their material. I was hoping they'd be wearing their 'Fallout'-looking outfits for the show (which they were wearing in said video but I was left disappointed when they appeared on stage in normal gear (along with wearing their own band t-shirts); though despite this, I was quite excited about the band. With a slightly heavier sound and grittier, thicker vocals than the opening act, I was pretty much feeling smug with a touch of glee throughout this act. I give a lot of credit to vocalist Sebastian Levermann for making the indifferent crowd liven up and getting them to interact. It was a difficult job and it took quite a few songs for them to catch on, but as soon as the sound of "We Are Pirates" was heard it seemed to have done the trick. However, it appeared to be a difficult performance overall for the band, which I could tell by their expressions when they were trying to interact with the crowd. It may have been what looked like a tense performance for the band, but it was a strong performance and they pulled it off, and by this time ignoring the shabby lighting, I really enjoyed it. Good going guys, come back to the UK soon!

8

Freedom Call

Freedom Call

This band is one of the reasons why I love Germany. No matter how corny the band are with Chris Bay's ridiculously flirty comments/jokes, Freedom Call know how to have fun. Before they arrive on stage, the place starts filling up with plenty of fans proudly wearing Freedom Call tees and the noise is increasing - that does not surprise me in the slightest.

The first track 'Freedom Call' kicks off their set, and the place is roaring. I felt as though Chris did talk more than actually perform. I say talk, it's more flirting. He talks about a 'dream he had last night' which included the words 'women' and 'boobs'. Me and bassist Samy Saemann catch each other's eye, and we are both shaking our heads thinking 'for God's sake…'. I leave the pit in time for one of my favourite Freedom Call songs, "Tears Of Babylon", which is the track you HAVE to jump to. The room was electrifying and the entire crowd was in the air. Interacting is very important at a gig... to a certain extent. And for Chris, as much as he's an entertaining character, he does need to 'stop' sometimes and just perform. You can still entertain by performing. As usual at a Freedom Call gig, the band kept it tight with enough room to run around and have some fun and catching them in their comfort zone at a smaller venue was brilliant after seeing them rip it up at Bloodstock in front of a hungover, Friday morning crowd.

I honestly couldn't say anything bad about them - They always put on a crackin' show and manage to put a smile on my face. This definitely was (as Freedom Call comedically put it in "Power And Glory") a Happy Metal Party. Germany, Ich liebe dich!

8

Luca Turilli's Rhapsody

Luca Turilli's Rhapsody

The waiting is getting intense. With the sight of blue around us, it looked like it was going to be a magical night for 'Rhapsody'. With the chants of 'Luca' repeatedly getting the place going, this was going to be a interesting show to compare to 'Rhapsody Of Fire'. One by one they arrive on stage with the intro "Quantum X" - which made me feel like I was about to watch a musical. With first track "Riding The Winds Of Eternity" kicking off with vocalist Alessandro Conti belting away as he arrives on stage, could he be as good as Fabio Lione? One things for sure, the show is off to a very good start with this 1998 album title track. Followed by "Clash of the Titans" and "Tormento e Passione" from the 2012 release "Ascending to Infinity", I wasn't feeling the spark of magic and joy. That could be because of not getting into the album as much as I could've done, therefore I thought I'd continue to try and enjoy and see where the night took us. Yet again, it could be the lighting getting me down again, as it had been all night.

It is very dark and... is that a moving Christmas tree? Oh, it was just a woman covered in light bulbs with a screen projector behind her looking like it was showing a film advertisement. Which altogether, was rather strange to watch. "Village Of Dwarves" was what kicked off the night for me - Alessandro sang it beautifully but the feeling of satisfaction wasn't how it was when I saw Fabio perform it at Bloodstock. Moving onto the drum solo, my favourite part at a gig….not. Alex Landenburg may be an exceptional drummer but for a show like this, the drum solo wasn't necessary. A keyboard solo on the other hand, would've worked, right? Okay, it's me having a cheese moment. With other classics such as "Flames Of Revenge" (one of my favourites), "Dawn of Victory", "Emerald Sword" and "Warrior of Ice", the show overall was more than satisfactory. I think the set list could've have been thought through a bit more, if so then it would've have been a show of bliss.

To top off the night, I bumped into the lovely Chris Bay of Freedom Call during the show which was funny as he remembered me very well from The Underworld last year as the girl that wrote 'Ich liebe dich' on her phone and showed it to him. As for Rhapsody, did they pull it off as good as Rhapsody Of Fire? Not this time, but maybe in the future if they were to be confirmed for a spot at a festival, that would be a different story.

All photos and writing by Nikki Ryan.

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