Highbury Garage, London, UK - 25th September 2009
Line-up: Primal Fear, Brainstorm
Review by Jon Wilde, (crappy phone) pics by Jon Wilde
The Garage is another excellent London venue situated directly opposite an underground station - in this case Highbury & Islington. It may be that I'm a fat burger loving layabout but, the ability to roll straight out of a venue, down a few steps and plonk my ass on the train is a real plus point.
The Garage, or should we call it the 'Relentless Garage' as the place is sponsored by some sort of foul looking energy drink, has a great vibe. The bar is massive (important), the lighting is mood-licious - especially the projected flames on a ceiling screen - and the staff seemed to be hard working and on the ball...which is nice.
I was supposed to be interviewing Brainstorm before the gig but, owing to the pre-gig set-up overrunning, our chat was moved to afterwards. Consequently, I had the pleasure of watching both bands doing their sound checks. It was an eye opener watching Primal Fear cocking about with The Police's 'Walking On The Moon'. Ralf Scheepers occasional full-volume references to chicks with dicks was amusingly disturbing. Brainstorm's warm-up was more 'normal', and showed to full effect just how good drummer Dieter Bernert is. The Brainstorm sound is so balanced he doesn't get chance to shine on record. Live he is a god.
Onto the gig itself, Brainstorm marched out and opened with a track from the new Memorial Roots album. We'll be reviewing it in the next week or two, but suffice it to say it was Brainstorm through and through and sounded awesome. Vocalist Andy B. Franck had the crowd eating out of his hand immediately. He's got a unique, brilliant voice and more oomph than a coal-fired power station. There are few front men in metal who are better than this guy and, coupled with the irritatingly skillful guitarists Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric, plus relatively new (and rather handy) bassist Antonio Ieva, Brainstorm as a whole are a band that deserves a lot more merit than they receive.
Plenty of the big songs were reamed off - 'Shiva's Tears' and 'Highs Without Lows' were amongst the highlights - although I was heinously disappointed at the absence of their heavy metal cover of Tony Christies 'Amarillo'. All in all a great set from a phenomenally talented band, only spoiled by the fact the band played for less than an hour. More next time please! :)
Primal Fear came on eventually (after what seemed like an age setting up). Still, it was worth the effort because they had a considerably crisper sound than Brainstorm. Primal Fear are a bit of a love/hate band for me. Their last couple of albums were excellent, but singer Ralf really does come across like a muscle-clad teutonic clone of Rob Halford on record. He's nowhere near as much of a copycat live, and actually reminds me more of Oscar-deserving (!) actor Dolph Lundgren...with the benefit of a good voice.
The show was loud and proud as you'd expect. Ralf isn't as adept as Brainstorm's Andy at getting the crowd going, but it's not far behind and there's no denying the quality and ferocity of his pipes. Interestingly, new songs 'Six Times Dead' and the serene Matt Sinner-led 'Hands of Time' were the best, although you couldn't describe any of it as diabolical. Some of the people I was there with weren't a fan of Primal Fear's ear-splitting power thrash musings but, you know what, I thought they were bloody excellent.
It's rare to go to a live show where both bands are so good and give such fine performances. I can't recommend seeing either of these groups enough. Go see them! Gig of the year so far.
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