Cavorts hit the stage with a rumble and throb that seamlessly blended punk and hardcore influences with metal growls and a furious backbeat that set the scene for the evening’s festivities. The power and force demonstrated by the band belief their bill opening slot and were clearly winning over the rapidly filling venue. A short but sweet (or actually quite brutal!) opening act – I can still feel the thrum of the bass shaking my guts now.
Defiled strike next, hitting the crowd with their crunch off metal, dreadlocks, tattoos and Jagermeister. Not my usual taste in rock, but blending a strangely energising mix of metal growl and harmony vocal. Many of the crowd were clearly not Defiled virgins, chanting along and giving the boys a rapturous welcome, which continued throughout their set.
Fresh from their pre-gig interview with Rock-Zone UK, Alestorm hit Manchester hard with their rather wonderful piratical take on metal. Having previously enjoyed the Viking metal antics of Tourists on a previous Dragonforce tour, it seems like Herman Li and the boys have started a tradition of bringing niche but spectacular variants of metal to the masses – and long may it continue. Alestorm are clearly having a great time doing what they do – and their enthusiasm is infectious. Possibly one of the hardest working acts on the road today, these guess deserve great success. “One More Drink” opened the set and from the get go Alestorm had the Manchester crowd eating from the palms of their hands. “Wenches and Mead” continued the rum infused party. Perhaps the best part of the show for me my evening was seeing that they guys are clearly having a great time following their dream aboard the good ship “Alestorm” – of this isthe life of a pirate, then I want to be taken aboard! By the easy, to the dude on the parrot costume who perched (do you see what I did there?) on his mate’s shoulders – we salute you, dude. Manchester loved pirates, they loved songs, they really loved songs about pirates. . .and they flipping adored Alestorm!
And so, to the main event. Dragonforce hit the ground running having lost none of their energy, enthusiasm or technical ability. Herman is still able to coax out ridiculously fast but melodic guitar parts, that Sam more than matches, whilst the rest of the band duck and weave around the stage – choreographed like the ballroom dancers of Strictly, whilst hitting the crowd with a prize fighter’s punch. Melody and harmony abounds whilst the double kick drum attack bludgeons the soul with the symphonic sci-fi metal of “Star Chaser” and the like. For the next hour and a quarter, Dragonforce brought delight to the Manchester Academy. Then all too soon, it was over and a blissfully happy band of fans ventured into the night with songs old and new lifting the hearts of all the Guitar Hero maniacs once again. Well done fellas, come back soon.
Review by David Wilson
Photographs: Laura Wilson