VAN CANTO – London 24/03/2016

02-TourPoster

Location:             ‘Islington Academy, London (England)
Date:                     24th March, 2016
Bands:                  Van Canto, Grailknights, End Of The Dream

Van Canto’s popularity seems to be going from strength to strength in England with bigger venues to accommodate fans and touring as headliners . I had reviewed an album of theirs in the past and always wondered how this ‘a cappella’ band would animate a Metal crowd. Well, tonight I’m going to get the answer to that.

Both support acts are relatively new to me. Grailknights place a strong emphasis on entertainment and visuals and seem to be an ideal support. Opening act End Of The Dream, however, are a different kettle of fish….

Dutch band End Of The Dream play a Symphonic Metal with dark, slightly melancholic, undertones. Their music got me thinking of Lacuna Coil and Within Temptation. Although the band is working on a new album, tonight’s set was taken entirely from the band’s debut album “All I Am”, released in 2014.

To be honest I wasn’t exactly in awe of their performance. What they do they do well but the band seemed intent on keeping within the template of this music genre. At least that was my impression. Lead vocalist Micky Huijsmans has a good voice but I felt she lacked confidence and struggled to bond with the audience. On the other hand I was impressed by the skills and versatility of guitarist Armen Shamelian.

Too much smoke and blinding lights made my job of getting decent photos extremely tricky and also occupied much of my focus. This factor in conjunction with the brevity of End Of The Dream’s set, could mean I’ll need another opportunity to objectively assess the band’s stage act. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

After the performance, I met End Of The Dream’s Micky and Armen backstage for a very quick interview.
Listen to what they told me:
End Of The Dream
End Of The Dream
End Of The Dream was:
Micky Huijsmans – vocals
Robin van Ekeren – guitars
Tim van den Hooven – bass
Armen Shamelian – guitars
Pim Geraets – drums
Set-list:
Colder
Follow The Angels
Shadow’s Embrace
Collide
All I Am

Rating: 60/100

12-24Mar2016-IslingtonAcademyLondon-ENDOFTHEDREAM-4s
End Of The Dream
End Of The Dream
End Of The Dream

 

 

11-24Mar2016-IslingtonAcademyLondon-ENDOFTHEDREAM-3
End Of The Dream

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13-24Mar2016-IslingtonAcademyLondon-ENDOFTHEDREAM-5s
End Of The Dream
Grailknights fuse comedy and theatrics with Metal in a similar way to GWAR (though perhaps less grossly). Tonight the theatrics are prevalently inspired by the cheesy cartoon series “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe”. Although the band is inspired by such cartoons, you could also say that Grailknights take the stereotypes of Metal and magnify them so exponentially as to become comedic.

Anyway, I have to concede that tonight Grailknights were highly entertaining. Included within their set were enactments of some of their song themes. From what I’ve understood, these were mainly centred around one Dr. Skull stealing the holy grail (a ‘golden’ chalice) and, subsequently, the Grailknights setting out to reclaim it. The culmination of this quest involved a hilarious slow-motion swordfight (with plastic carnivalesque swords). Equally funny was the Grailknights’ preparation for the showdown with Dr Skull, something the band calls the ‘superhero workout’.

As musicians Grailknights proved to be competent enough but their image and attitude are integral to the band and the whole package is something you couldn’t resist being drawn to. Besides, this was the only time where you could hear a Slayer riff, a Judas Priest melody and a Power Rangers tune in the same song….and actually enjoy it!

At the very least. an interesting discovery!

Grailknights was:
Sir Optimus Prime (green knight) – throatwork (vocals)
Sovereign Storm (purple knight) – metalaxe (guitars)
Earl Quake (blue knight) – metalaxe
Count Cranium (red knight) – battle-bass (bass)
Lord Drumcules (yellow knight) – hammer and anvil (drums)
 .
Set-list:
Dead Or Alive
Morning Dew
Beer Beach
Nameless Grave
Black Knight
Grailrobic (superhero workout)
Schwertkampf (sword fight)
Superhero medley
Grail
Grailquest Gladiators

Rating: 78/100

37-24Mar2016-IslingtonAcademyLondon-GRAILKNIGHTS-14s
Grailknights
Dr Skull (Grailknights)
Dr Skull (Grailknights)
23-24Mar2016-IslingtonAcademyLondon-GRAILKNIGHTS-4
Grailknights

 

 

 

 

 

 

21-24Mar2016-IslingtonAcademyLondon-GRAILKNIGHTS-2
Grailknights

 

 

Grailknights
Grailknights
25-24Mar2016-IslingtonAcademyLondon-GRAILKNIGHTS-6
Grailknights
Grailknights
Grailknights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18-24Mar2016-IslingtonAcademyLondon-GRAILKNIGHTS-setlist-2
Grailknights setlist
43-24Mar2016-IslingtonAcademyLondon-GRAILKNIGHTS-20s
Grailknights
46-24Mar2016-IslingtonAcademyLondon-GRAILKNIGHTS-23s
Grailknights

 

Grailknights
Grailknights
Grailknights
Grailknights

 

 

 

 

 

Grailknights
Grailknights

 

 

 

 

 

 

53-24Mar2016-IslingtonAcademyLondon-GRAILKNIGHTS-30s
Grailknights
Grailknights
Grailknights

 

Grailknights
Grailknights
Love them or hate them but there’s no denying that tonight Van Canto put on an eminently enjoyable show. At times I almost forgot it was just voices (and drums) that I was hearing.

Particularly well delivered was ‘Rebellion’, the Gravedigger classic, effective in stirring up the audience. Manowar’s ‘Kings Of Metal’ was great too and felt appropriate within tonight’s set, with songs of bravery and noble battles

‘Fear Of The Dark’ (by Iron Maiden) brought Van Canto’s set to a momentous end. Though not entirely convinced by ‘Wishmaster’, the singing of Van Canto’s Inga Scharf felt strikingly similar to Tarja Turunen’s. With regards to Van Canto’s own songs, ‘Bard’s Call’, from the brand new album “Voices Of Fire”, had the makings of an instant classic. ‘Dragonwake’, too, sounded great. Not even the set’s mellower moments watered down the performance.

A festive ambience and the perfect antidote for the week’s mundanity!

Listen to Van Canto’s Stefan and Ross describe the band’s London visits:

With Stefan (left) and Ross (right) of Van Canto
With Stefan (left) and Ross (right) of Van Canto
Van Canto was:
Philip ‘Sly’ Dennis Schunke – lead (male) voice
Inga Scharf – lead (female) voice
Ross Thompson – higher rakkatakka
Stefan Schmidt – lower rakkatakka
Jan Moritz – bassvoice
Bastian Emig – drums
Set-list:
Clashings On Armour Plates
Dragonwake
Time And Time Again
All My Life
Battleday
Firevows
Ronja + Pathfinder
Speed Of Light
Kings Of Metal
To The Mountains
Rebellion
Metal Song
Wishmaster
Bard’s Call
Mission/Battery
Fear Of The Dark

Rating: 84/100

Van Canto
Van Canto
Van Canto
Van Canto
Van Canto
Van Canto

 

 

 

 

 

Van Canto
Van Canto
Van Canto
Van Canto
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Van Canto

 

 

 

 

 

Van Canto
Van Canto

 

Van Canto
Van Canto
Van Canto
Van Canto
Van Canto
Van Canto

Text and all live photographs by Chris Galea

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