170 Russell, Melbourne, VIC
June 21st, 2017
A crisp Wednesday evening found a gaggle of dedicated punters round the bend up the guts of China town on Wednesday night as 170 Russell delayed the 7.30 door time to finalize a fashionably late sound check for the D-Force and their local supports. After an extra twenty-odd minutes, the visibly excited young fans were allowed in to catch the last minute-and-a-bit of Teramzae sorting things – rather loudly – with the sound desk. After shooting the shit in the cold with little more than Dragonforce’s 2012/14 tour shirts to keep them warm for a while longer than expected, it was a treat for front of the line kids (who are inevitably always there as gargantuan local support fans).
After a fair wait, the relatively full crowd were subject to Teramaze’s anthemic and competent, but ultimately repetitive swag of operatic prog tunes. Everyone on stage was extremely talented, replete with a particularly spectacular bassist, who gushed exceptionally complicated fret work to the point I thought the whole instrument might begin to uncontrollably vibrate and eventually disintegrate. The keyboards were mixed out, but what did echo through was enticing enough to want to hear them on a produced record.
Vocalist Dean Wells had a great falsetto, one with which more dedicated fans are clearly enamoured. The Melbournian quintet were by no means bad, but left this reviewer a bit listless by the set’s end. Evidently, their brand of even-tempoed and sludgy power-prog didn’t vibrate quite right with some, but a large group of kids up the front were bloody chuffed. The music scene is an ever-quickening cycle, and being long enough in the tooth to have seen many bands just like Teramaze at Freeza gigs toward the business end of last millennium could have amplified the jadedness of older punters like myself to their particular sound. But if the youngsters love it, then they’re on a good wicket. Must be doing something right to support the metal behemoth that is Dragonforce, hey?
Speaking of which, the mighty Dragonforce are and always will be a bit of a bewildering anomaly. They sound like a dizzying amalgamation of Yoshi’s island for Super Nintendo, classic death metal, and the noise a VCR makes while fast forwarding, but in all the right ways. As seasoned tour veterans, The ‘Force cantered on to stage to a fervent crowd baying for what is almost inarguably the fastest musicianship on earth. If you sit down and really, really think about it, Herman Li and Sam Totman’s guitar skills defy comprehension. Sure, it’s happening in front of your eyes, but your mind can’t much make sense of it (just like a magic eye puzzle, or that picket fence in Mexico that looks like Jesus’ Mum). The untold hours of practise and dedication that came to pass for those guys to Ctrl+Alt+Del the limits of speed and precision on a fret must be beguilingly mammoth.
The real cherry on the cake is that they look bored doing it. Bored on purpose, one must add, as their comedic kinship and pretend rivalry on stage to out class each other is truly hilarious. Li has futuristic little ring on his playing hand that wirelessly fiddles with the guitars pitch and effects depending on where he waves his hand, which includes miming wanking off to express staged disgust and Totman’s self-indulgent solo skills. Simulated wanking to make a guitar 205bpm guitar solo even more awesome? I mean, just… get the fuck out of here.
If you’ve ever wanted to watch a man skull a beer while almost starting a friction fire on the neck of a guitar as mountains of sonic epicness perfectly assault your ear drums, Dragonforce are the band to see. Beyond the spectacular duopoly of rollicking, earth-shattering, monumental, unprecedented, and extremely uplifting skills of Totman and Li is Fred Leclercq’s rhythm guitar, so completely resplendent and relentless that his wrist bones should absolutely be a fine gray powder by now. He and drummer Gee Anzalone even squeezed in music from Sonic The Hedgehog and Super Mario 2 amidst a shin-splitting drum solo. It was gleeful magic.
As a drummer, it’s inspiring to know human arms and legs can do the things Gee manages behind a kit. Successfully keeping up while the world’s busiest musical hands have free reign to convert electricity in to music faster than electricity itself can keep up surely crests the upper echelons of physical human skill across the board. In short; Gee is a fucking beast on the drums, and it’s a privilege to watch such passion and skill.
Front man Marc Hudson wails up a mighty storm, and manages to transfer his seamless vocal acrobatics from studio to stage with deft ability. His stage presence is immense, but still serves the band instead of trying to eclipse it. He seems like a cool dude to get a beer with. Actually, all of Dragonforce do.
The guys rolled out awe-inspiring hits out from their nigh-on two decade career so effortlessly that 170 Russell felt like a crowd of 100,000 wouldn’t be big enough to aurally eat the noise. They are a yardstick of musical talent, and despite some metal puritan’s dislike for their fun and fast nature, it’s impossible not to respect such a wonderful, fun, and truly brilliant band. Thanks gents, that was fucking awesome.
Ashes of the Dawn
Operation Ground and Pound
Heroes of Our Time
Curse of Darkness
Fury of the Storm
Super Mario Bros. 2 Theme/Sonic the Hedgehog Theme
Heart of a Dragon
The Edge of the World
Ring of Fire
Through the Fire and Flames
Gig Review and Photo Gallery by the legendary multi-tasker Todd Gingell
Please credit Wall of Sound and Photographer if you repost.
Dragonforce – Reaching Into Infinity Australian Tour
Saturday, 24th June
Manning Bar, Sydney (18+) (Supported by Lord)
Sunday, 25th June
The Triffid, Brisbane (18+) (Supported by Chronolyth)