I went to this gig having heard only a handful of Fury UK songs on the band's Myspace page and not knowing any of the other bands at all. The venue, Moho Live, is an unusual venue with a small stage that occasionally makes it difficult to see the bands over the crowd. The crowd area itself is small with most attendees usually having to stand off to the left next to the bar. However, even with its limitations I've always enjoyed gigs at the Moho. Its very cosy and the sound is generally pretty good.
Anyway, enough background and onto the bands! First up was Afterdown, a quintet of friends that play good old traditional rock with some elements of punk and metal. At this point the crowd was sparse with most of the people present content to hang around the bar and merch area. However, this did not stop Afterdown from putting on a very good performance. They opened with a crash of heavy guitars that instantly caught the attention before launching into a set of original songs with just a little bit of talk in between.
One of the most poignant parts of the night was the dedication of the song Brothers In Arms to the friends of Neil (vocals, guitar) who were serving in Afghanistan. A strong song made all the better by this personal touch. I felt there to be shades of Puppets-era Metallica or Maiden at the heaviest in this song – no bad thing!
Its a shame that Afterdown had the first slot as the small crowd hadn't drunk enough. There were a few raised fists during the new song that the band played (sorry I forgot the title) and a couple of guys on the front rails having a good old headbang but you got the impression that the rest of the attendees were waiting for the next band. Afterdown finished with the catchy What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger; a song with a definite Wolfsbane feel, before heading offstage. A damn good start to the night for me as I thoroughly enjoyed this set and hope to see Afterdown again in the future.
Next up: Fantasist. Now I got the impression that most of the people at the Moho were at the gig to see this band. I'd not heard them so I was eager to see what all the fuss was about. The trio, who have just released their debut album, entered the stage clad in black suits and ties to a crowd that exuded eagerness and excitement at the prospect of seeing them. The Moho had really filled up by this point and it seemed that many present were not the typical people you see at heavy rock/metal gigs.
So Fantasist began and the crowd were exuberant. They play an eclectic mix of prog rock, metal, punk, funk and everything in between it seems, with the closest similarity I can draw being Queens Of The Stone Age.
Ok, admittedly this just wasn't my sort of music and I didn't enjoy it too much however I cannot fault the passion of the band who rose to the occasion with class and aplomb with Hamish-looking guitarist / vocalist Ollie parading around the stage like the bastard child of Angus Young (AC/DC) and Flea (Red Hot Chilli Peppers). They undoubtedly had the biggest and most exciting crowd reaction of the night with lots of good interaction and several people dancing and headbanging. I expect these guys to be a huge success in the alternative music industry!
Fantasist are currently on tour with Exit State, the band who were up next. They had a lot to do in order to steal the thunder back from the previous trio and try as they might I don't think they accomplished this. When Exit State took the stage the crowd already started to disperse and it kept thinning out as the set went on. This should be a bit of a surprise given that the Exit State boys are about to release their second album and the video for Lost Beyond Belief reached number one on the Kerrang! TV request show last year. I would have expected more of their fans to show up. The music of Exit State is, again, an eclectic mix of genres with rock, metal, punk and indie all playing their part in the band's sound.
Despite the lessening of the crowd and the fact that once again I didn't really enjoy the music (sorry guys, I prefer my metal straight up!) I cannot fault Exit State's commitment. They did their best to keep the crowd going and I think those who actually did the band some justice and stayed to watch them actually got a pretty good show. Vocalist / guitarist Roy Bright is a very engaging frontman who was determined to make the people watching have a good time! Obviously a band of guys who thoroughly enjoy what they do.
Finally, the headliners! Fury UK is a band that has been making waves in the UK metal scene. They have supported the Michael Schenker Group, Y&T and Blaze Bayley and are soon to embark upon a full UK tour as support to Saxon and Wolfsbane. They are currently supporting their third full-length album, A Way Of Life however the setlist for this gig was chosen by fans in a Facebook vote that ran last year so it was a truly crowd pleasing show!
By the time Fury UK emerged on stage the crowd had become really sparse again. This is probably due to the show being on a Sunday when public transport in the UK is run at a reduced service making it even worse than usual. This is the problem with Sunday shows...most people have to leave early to get a last bus or train home. Hopefully one day the UK transport officials will drag themselves out of the stone age and get a proper service running...I digress...
Anyway, the crowd was small but the nucleus of Fury UK fans made their presence felt! As the intro music played and the band took the stage the crowd make some noise and a girl screams in delight...and the band began playing.
Initially there were some problems with the bass. No sound. However, this was soon fixed and the Moho rumbled as Luke Appleton's fingers danced along the strings! The powerful sound of Fury UK swept through the Moho and the crowd were mesmerized. Now THIS is my kind of music! Straight up heavy metal with virtuoso guitar playing, great riffs, fantastic drumming and vocals oozing with passion. Quite simply magnificent! The whole set was a tour-de-force of melodic metal that included a fantastic drum solo from Martin McNee.
In another poignant moment the band dedicated the song Brotherhood to the late musicians Ronnie James Dio, Gary Moore and Phil Kennemore. This excellent song was a fitting tribute to these legends of the rock and metal scenes.
The final song of the night was Death By Lightning which was in my opinion the highlight of the whole show and probably one of the best moments of any gig I've ever been to. Singer / guitarist Chris Appleton proved himself to be a master of the axe with a phenomenal final guitar solo that included virtuoso fretwork that would have made Michael Angelo Batio proud and the use of props such as a beer bottle and a mic stand in a style reminiscent of the great Jimmy Page during his Led Zeppelin days! It was a joy to listen and see this!
The hardcore few that stayed 'til the end really got FUK'd up this night! Can't wait to see these guys supporting Saxon in April!