Dragonforce - Opera House, Toronto - October 20th, 2011
Review and Photos by Mike Bax
I'm sure everyone in attendance for this performance had one underlying question on their minds before Dragonforce took the stage to a crowd of about 700 fans - and that was, "How will the band sound with new vocalist Marc Hudson". The answer to that question was a very easy "Just fine thank you very much!" even WITH the nasty viral throat infection Hudson has been wrestling for days. This evening’s show was supposed to be the second of three small club 'preview' shows to introduce Marc to North American Dragonforce audiences, and I can't image his frustration over having to cancel the first of these shows in L.A. two nights before the band’s Toronto appearance.
Because of this L.A. cancellation, what Toronto wound up getting was the very first North American appearance of Dragonforce with their new vocalist in place. Even with his self-admitted problematic vocals this evening, the eight songs performed all sounded tip-top, and Hudson makes an almost seamless fit with the band, stepping into the shoes left vacant by ex-vocalist ZP Theart almost two years ago.
Eight songs might sound like a very short set of material, but if you factor in the average running time of a Dragonforce song at seven to ten minutes in length, the band delivered a decent show. I understand that a song may have been dropped off their originally planned performance, but with Hudson as sick as he was, I think we'll just be glad that the band could even play and leave it at that.
The downside of playing such a small venue for Dragonforce was that they only 'just' fit on the stage. Six gentlemen playing some of the fastest power metal on the planet on a stage the size of the Opera House doesn't come without a few compromises. The band's trampolines and some of their standard backdrop and lighting had to sit out the show. The upside was seeing the band perform in a venue this small again. The last time they rolled through Toronto, it was a Sound Academy performance and the hall was close to packed. I felt like this evening was a rare opportunity to get to see them play up close and personal.
Keyboardist Vadim Pruzhanov, now almost shaved completely bald (a small swatch of hair centered atop his head reminded me of a Dr Seuss character), bounced about the back left of the stage in such wild abandon, it's surprising he can play live as keenly as he does. Herman Li and Sam Totman unleashed a behemoth-sized hour of epic live guitar riffs while drummer Dave Mackintosh and bassist Frederic Leclercq bashed out the lighting fast backbone beats on their respective instruments.
Marc Hudson thanked everyone for coming out a few times throughout the evening and easily put to rest any worries about the future of the band and their vocal presence. He pushed out vocals to old tracks like 'Heroes of Our Time' and 'Through the Fire and Flames' with as much confidence as the two new tracks ('Cry Thunder' and 'Lost Fallen World') performed.
Though I’ve yet to hear a single studio song from their upcoming fifth album, I left the concert convinced of two things: Marc Hudson is a good fit for Dragonforce, and the new material promises to be quite interesting. 'Lost Fallen World' carries a relentless guitar riff throughout the song and the lyrics sound totally majestic. Watch for it in early 2012.
Heroes of Our Time
Operation Ground and Pound
Lost Fallen World
The Last Journey Home
Fury of the Storm
Through the Fire and Flames