DragonForce + Power Quest @ o2 Academy, 11th October, 2017

On the coldest night of autumn so far I enter what must be the hottest space in Birmingham (this heat is later noted by DragonForce singer, Marc Hudson); a packed out, but not entirely sold out, Academy 2.

DragonForce’s support tonight comes from mostly Southampton based Power Quest. Containing ex-DragonForce members – from when the band were referred to as DragonHeart – it is clear to see the connection here, leaving me wondering for a split second if I have missed the beginning of the main act! Power Quest are doing a brilliant job of promoting their new album, Sixth Dimension, and whipping up a storm with some particularly impressive vocals from singer Ashley Edison making it a very enjoyable set before DragonForce enter. The obvious similarity between the two bands on tonight makes them a perfect fit for this fast paced bill. When it is time for Power Quest’s last song, everyone is disappointed with them leaving the stage to chants of the band’s name. All in all, a fantastic warm up.

We are now in for a half hour wait before DragonForce hit us with their wall of power metal. Sometimes referred to as Nintendo metal due to the high speed noise of the genre sounding like Mario in a time-lapse. We are treated to a variety of songs from DragonForce’s near 20 year history, but the set list does not seem too long given that we have nearly 2 hours of music to look forward to. This could be due to every tune that DragonForce give us being at least 6 or 7 minutes long; an impressive amount of time given their consistent high speed pace. 

Promoting their seventh studio album, Reaching Into Infinity, released May of this year, DragonForce show no signs of slowing down that pace either. They find a lot of time to engage with the Birmingham crowd tonight, quickly proclaiming how much love they have for Brum. With this wonderful city’s history as the home of heavy metal, it’s great to see bands coming back time and again to make their own mark upon the place. 

A highlight of tonight’s show is the drawn out, yet amusing solo section with Frédéric Leclercq on bass, and Gee Anzalone showing us his impressive double kick drum skills. Call and response involving bass and the crowd showcases the audience’s brilliant – ahem – singing skills, right to the last single note Leclercq has us all hilariously humming. Quickly followed by a head banging drum session with Anzalone in which he doesn’t drop a beat, with the full band then heading into a very unDragonForce-like bluesy improvisation, but it’s great to see everyone clearly having fun on stage. DragonBlues? Perhaps not.

After their sashay into the blues, it’s back to business with Heart Of A Dragon, from their very first album, Valley Of The Damned, a hit with the crowd. Singer, Marc Hudson, reminds us how long DragonForce have been on the scene by commenting that he was 16 when this particular album came out. The last song tonight is Cry Thunder, and for this a crowd participation is attempted, where the band get an audience member onstage, but it seems not to work perfectly, being abandoned after a couple of minutes, a little too long. Nevertheless, they are cheered for more once the song has ended and they exit the stage.

After heading back on for their encore, including the Johnny Cash cover, Ring Of Fire (which one audience member thought was a little random), they complete the set with an energetic yet expected version of Through The Fire And Flames, their biggest hit, with Hudson exclaiming (to a loud cheer and laughter), ‘How many of you have turned out for one song?!’. Many people might have done, but it’s clear that DragonForce are not going anywhere for now. Tonight’s energy had me thinking they should have been in the main Academy, they could certainly fill it sonically but physically that remains to be seen.


Ashes Of The Dawn

Operation Ground & Pound

Judgement Day


Curse Of Darkness

Fury Of The Storm

[Guitar & drum solos]

Heart Of A Dragon

Edge Of The World

Cry Thunder


Valley Of The Damned

Ring Of Fire (Johnny Cash Cover)

Through The Fire & The Flames

Reviewer: Katie Foulkes

Photographer: Chris Bowley


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