I mostly hate change, especially when it involves some of my favorite bands. Musical styles or major lineup alterations always take me a while to get used to. On Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend the KAMELOT/DRAGONFORCE tour stop here at House of Blues Dallas, and had the chance to reconcile some of those changes live. No local openers, just two huge acts dominating the stage. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it went well.
DRAGONFORCE came on and put my first fear to rest – I haven’t been a huge fan of Marc Hudson on their recorded material over the last couple of discs, but he blew me away live. I’m a ZP Theart fanboy all the way through, but Marc really took the classic songs and not only sang them perfectly, he also put his own stamp on them. Herman Li and Sam Totman were tight as hell on guitar and I was really impressed with their performance – this was the first time I had seen them live, and online videos just don’t do their skill justice. They ripped through several classic songs, including one of my personal favorites, “Operation Ground And Pound”, and the hour-long set was completely awesome from start to finish, mixing new and old tracks with a nice flow. I’m still not completely sold on the new material, but it came across very well live. I’ll have to spend some time with the more recent discs and give them another chance.
After a very quick stage change, the lights went down, the fog came up, and KAMELOT took the stage and launched into “Veil of Elysium”. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Haven, their latest record and second with Tommy Karevik (SEVENTH WONDER) on lead vocals, but again – the live sound made all the difference to me on this night. I had started to lose interest in KAMELOT after they switched to a darker gothic style of songwriting with Ghost Opera, and to be completely honest, I was no longer a fan of Roy Khan as vocalist when he left the band – he just didn’t connect with the audience like a good frontman should. Tommy makes up for that in spades, and makes everyone feel like they’re a part of the show; pointing, smiling, making faces for the photographers – he’s having a great time every moment that he’s onstage, and it is infectious.
Live, the later material has less of a gothic feel to it, and it’s much more enjoyable for me than the CDs are. The band split the set up pretty well over all of the albums from Karma to present day – set staples “Forever”, “When The Lights Are Down”, “March Of Mephisto” and the seminal “Center Of The Universe” meshed well with “Here’s To The Fall”, “Rule The World” and “Insomnia”. Even “The Great Pandemonium” sounded great this night, and I normally skip right over that song if it comes up on shuffle in the car. Kobra Paige (KOBRA AND THE LOTUS) joined the band on tour this year to sing the female vocal parts, and she did a fine job, holding up the standard set by luminaries like Simone Simons, Elize Ryd, and Alissa White-Gluz.
Overall, the show was a great experience, and I really look forward to seeing both bands again in the near future. DRAGONFORCE will be headlining Day One of PROGPOWER USA next September, and Amps and Green Screens will be there to cover it!
LIVE IMAGES AND WORDS: FRANK ZABER/IMAGES FROM THE DARK