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….
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.
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!
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:
Text and all live photographs by Chris Galea