Dragonforce + Turisas @ Birmingham Academy – 27th September 2008

Turisas Fans
There is clearly a big presence of Turisas fans at the front of the queue outside the Academy tonight, the warpaint, swords and ‘300’ style warrior chants being a big giveaway. In fact, the Finnish Vikings come close to stealing the show, giving an entertaining and enjoyable performance; complete with dramatic voiceovers and high impact onstage costumes. First song ‘Battle Metal’ gets the whole room moving, swords held high, as the band gallop through their mix of folk and power metal, the violin and accordion creating a rich sound.
The band’s cover of Boney M’s disco classic Rasputin, despite seeming a strange choice at first, actually fits in very well with the rest of the band’s material and goes down great with the crowd. Turisas have clearly already won over an army of dedicated fans, and it looks like they’ve recruited plenty of new troops tonight.
As Turisas’s voiceover says; tonight, speed it all that matters and speed is what Dragonforce do best. Having played much larger venues in the past as part of the Black Crusade tour, the Academy may feel quite small to them. However the size of their stage show makes it easy to forget they are playing to a crowd of 3000. With a huge screen in the background, allowing the fans to get a better view of the guitarist’s skills, and an impressive stage set, the gig feels a lot bigger than it actually is. The placement of the keyboard and drum kit on raised platforms not only adds to the illusion of a much larger stage, but also gives the guitarists the whole stage to themselves, creating a high energy show.
For a band so centred around massive guitar solos, the main guitar cutting out mid song is about as disastrous as it gets. They don’t let technical problems faze them however, blasting through tracks from their new album ‘Ultimate Beatdown’ like they’ve been playing them for years. ‘Reasons To Live’ sees the crowd pumped up and ready to rock, while what sounds like a cover of the Super Mario theme tune provides some humour. Although the speed the guitarists play with is impressive, the hour and 20 minute set begins to feel a little long with little variation from high speed solos, but then the crowd don’t appear to share this view, hair swirling and fists pumping throughout ‘Soldiers Of The Wasteland’.
The set draws to a close with the band’s best known track, ‘Through The Fire And The Flames’ which receives the biggest reaction of the night. Dragonforce are a band who divide opinion within the rock world, loved by many and hated by others, however with so many fans behind them tonight, it seems the self named ‘Fastest band on the planet’ won’t be worrying about those who aren’t convinced.

Review – Helen Catchpowle
Photos – Bianca Barrett (Turisas) & Steve Gerrard (Dragonforce)

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