Colchester has a brilliant music scene, whether it is local gigs or bigger gigs, a fun night out is always guaranteed. Being my second appearance at the Arts Centre, I truly realised why it was a wonderful venue that was loved by many. The sound was ace, the lighting was good and the staff were friendly. Now onto the show.
The evening started off with a bang with an appearance by the great NeonFly. Playing a fusion of heavy metal, hard rock and power metal. NeonFly were a lot of fun with frontman Willy Norton a lovely, enthusiastic and commanding presence. He certainly knew how to please a crowd and how to warm them up for the main event. Playing a mixture of old and new material, NeonFly were one of the funnest openers I’ve seen before. What struck me was not only how well-rehearsed they were as a band or how good their relationship was with each other (making fun of themselves and constantly smiling), but their passion which came across in the music. Willy at the end of their set commented “Thanks for watching us, buy a shirt and album, we do this for a living.” They were a wonderful band and one that I vowed to check out more.
I had heard many reports of DragonForce live, I had heard they were rude to their fans, late on stage and terrible musicians. But the band that walked out on stage were goofy yet humble and insanely enjoyable. Despite having a set riddled with technical difficulties (mainly at the expense of poor keyboardist/keytarist Vadim Pruzhanov whose solos were sadly absent for large parts of the night). During the cut outs though, the band knew how to entertain the crowd playing improv freestyle jazz and samba rhythms. The band thesmelves were funny and really likable, guitarist Herman Li even almost hit himself in the face and fell off the stage on various parts of the night; but like a pro he laughed it off and carried on playing. The audience clearly loved Herman Li, chanting “Hurry up Herman” when waiting for the band to come on. One fan mentioned to me as well that “Herman Li was his spirit animal,” whatever that means. Marc Hudson commented that this was their debut in Colchester and that it was cool to be playing in a Church. He then asked if anyone was going to Church on Sunday to which only a few people cheered. The Church of DragonForce was clearly the better option.
The band played mainly material from new album Maximum Overload and The Power Within with a few classics thrown in for good measure. ‘The Game’ and ‘Seasons’ were highlights of the night for me from the Hudson era while ‘Cry Thunder’ was a massive chantfest. The encore was awesome too, their cover of ‘Ring of Fire’ was a nice surprise but it was Guitar Hero classic ‘Through The Fire and the Flames’ that was the best bit of the night. I was surprised by how much of a mosh band they were, there were large violent pits throughout their entire set with fans going nuts even a few even tackling and headbutting each other. During ‘Through The Fire And The Flames’ I was actually thrown across the room as someone said I was taking up too much mosh room. My first thought to this was “Am I really that fat?” But once I was safe I could once again enjoy the gig. Because of all the technical problems, the band decided to play one more song that they hadn’t played on the tour yet, ‘Valley of the Damned.’ Even though I wish they ended on ‘Through The Fire And The Flames,’ it was still nice of them to play one more song for us fans. Despite the various issues, they nailed their debut in Colchester and will hopefully be getting a call back soon.
It was the best night I’ve had at the Arts Centre at a gig that was much better than I expected it to be. With a huge grin on my face I went home happy.
The Colchester Arts Centre was featured as one of our top five venues.