Dragonforce with support from The Defiled and Alestorm
Thursday 27th September 2012 – Mandela Hall, Belfast
Before tonight’s show I learnt that Dragonforce’s last headline gig in Belfast had left a lot to be desired. The current line up at the time was in the process of losing their lead singer and as such they had delivered a lacklustre set. The band has been back in Belfast since that bump in the road with an impressive slot supporting the mighty Iron Maiden at the Odyssey Arena. But tonight was to be their first headline set back in Belfast and the question everyone was asking was, would they sink or would they swim?
The support acts were The Defiled and Alestorm, but unfortunately due to the show changing to 14+ and the stage times changing I missed The Defiled’s set. When I arrived I caught the last song from Alestorm which was ‘Captain Morgan’s Revenge’ and what can I say I have never seen anything like it speeded up folk metal with a touch of “Ho Ho Ho and a bottle of rum.” The crowd went wild and it definitely put a smile on my face. I didn’t realise just how much of the crowd were there for Alestorm until after their set I was met with Pirates and their wenches heading to the bar for a drink!
It was time now to see if Dragonforce had the ‘force,’ or would they leave us lacking. Music and lights began and Marc Hudson let out a scream reminiscent of Sebastian Bach in the 80’s. He commanded the stage from the first moment, leaving no inch uncovered working the crowd into frenzy and demanding mosh pits in the crowd. Their set was a mix of old and new, a little bit of everything to keep the mixed aged audience happy. They opened with ‘Holding On’, shifting seamlessly into ‘Hero of our Time’. Then onto a track from their new album ‘The Power Within’ something a little softer, ‘Seasons’.
Hudson and the band went back in time to ‘Heart of the Dragon’ and ‘Through the Fire and the Flames,’ with Hudson claiming these songs as his own. There was talk about Arthur’s day with Marc Hudson downing a Guinness in one although, he did spill quite a bit on the floor! Hudson also took a moment to explain how special Belfast was to him, as it was the first proper set he had played with the band when they supported Iron Maiden. The crowd appreciated this and filled the air with cheers. Idle banter finished, the band launched into ‘Cry Thunder’ and by the end of the song I was even singing along. Leaving the stage with a “Goodnight Belfast” the crowd waited for more and weren’t disappointed when the band returned to play one last song. They finished with ‘Valley of the Damned’ and for me this cemented the fact that Dragonforce are back and a force to be reckoned with! The Talent of Sam Tottman and Herman Li on the guitar were highlighted throughout the set along with Hudson’s vocal range. Mandela Hall may be a petite venue but Dragonforce gave an Arena performance, showing that there is a place for power metal today.