GIG REVIEW: Amon Amarth, Testament & Grand Magus Live At The Roundhouse, London
In Swedish it has several different meanings but in this case I mean something pretty ridiculous, but somehow Grand Magus pulls off their leather, studded, over-exaggerated and heavy metal style of music and show. Since this was the opening act they did not have a lot of room on the stage, as the bigger bands decor took up a lot of space and they could basically stand still and not move. The band dedicated their last song of the evening, “Hammer Of The North” to all of the metalheads in London! That was a very good move since it got the crowd singing the chorus even after the band had left the stage!
With Testament up next, the music was, as usual, intense and uncompromising. The performance was unyielding and interesting. The decor of the stage was dark, broody and fit the music perfectly. What was lacking was inspiration, a good light technician and their greatest hits! Sure this was not a festival gig but you could throw in atleast some ear candy for the fans that have been with you for a long time instead of pushing 1/3 of the short setlist towards the newest album.
Chuck Billy did an awesome job playing the microphone air guitar and Alex Skolnick as usual did a fabulous job playing the real lead guitar. But, as has been the story so many times before, Eric Petersen should remain playing the rhythm guitar and not try to match Skolnick and his equilibristic expression because that is like matching Stephen Hawking with Kaspar Hauser at playing lead! Do what Metallica does -let Kirk do the lead work and cash in while writing awesome songs instead.
The Swedish death metal heavyweights Amon Amarth need no further introduction than… SKÅL! So what can I say, the fact that the first time I saw this band and interviewed singer Johan Hegg was the first time I ever came across this phenomenon and that time they played for a crowd that tonight had increased atleast tenfold. That night many years ago, we talked about shows, and to “How to maintain your voice”, he said “I do nothing!” and it has never felt more real than tonight that they are a force of nature! They have archers, pointing their long-bows against us, the crowd. They have warriors behind shields ready to kill everything in their arms length and it IS convincing! Maybe not the music or the lyrics themselves BUT the conviction and the passion!
They played classics like “Deceiver Of The Gods” and “Guardians Of Asgard” while the crowd sang along almost louder than the band themselves! The show itself was magnificent and it shows what hard work and dedication can do. This for me is one of the best gigs this year and one of the best concerts I have ever seen with Amon Amarth! Singer Johan Hegg is approaching Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden when it comes to how to deal with an audience. Similar to Testament, they incorporated a lot of songs from their latest album but the difference is that they actually pull it off. As headliners they of course have a lot more stage time to pick and mix but the crowd response was a lot more positive.