Mexico City Circo Volador,
It’s Saturday night, and the Circo Volador is already comfortably full by the early hour of 8pm. However, there’s a noticeable difference between tonight’s crowd and those of previous shows that we’ve witnessed within these walls; namely, the wider age range. From 10 year old kids in ‘Guitar Hero’ t-shirts to veterans sporting Helloween and Stratovarius patches on their jackets, the cult of Dragonforce seems to have grown no end since the band’s ‘Inhuman Rampage’ album catapulted them to new levels of popularity and acclaim.
In recent times, Dragonforce have often come under fire for allegedly not being able to recreate the fretboard-melting guitar acrobatics of their records in the live setting. And sure, this is occasionally true tonight, but for the majority of their set the London sextet sound as huge and epic as any self-respecting power metal band should. This being their first visit to Mexico, they’re on a mission to make sure that both they and their crowd have as much fun as possible, and the roar that greets the opening ‘Heroes Of Our Time’ certainly bodes well for this.
You see, the Dragonforce live experience is rather like the power metal equivalent of The Benny Hill Show, with bizarre/amusing antics in abundance. Keyboard player Vadim Pruzhanov is dressed like some kind of day-glo Mr Motivator, and when he’s not jumping around behind his instrument, he’s soloing away down the front on a keytar. Meanwhile, guitarists Sam Totman and Herman Li can often be found jogging on the spot as they unleash virtuoso heaven on a crowd for whom the language difference is clearly not a problem, and who greet every solo with an impressive display of air guitar action. Throughout the madness, ZP Theart remains an engaging master of ceremonies, leading the masses through ‘Operation Ground And Pound’ and ‘Valley Of The Damned’ with no little enthusiasm and a powerful voice to boot.
Judging by their latest album ‘Ultra Beatdown’, Dragonforce seem content to stick with what they’re good at, and hence possibly risk falling into a Motorhead-esque trap of effectively rewriting the same record over and over again. But tonight, as the grand finale of ‘Through The Fire And Flames’ threatens to bring the house down, it can’t be denied that these guys are a pleasure – no matter how guilty – to witness live.
Words: Alex Gosman
Photo: Smyrna Ochoa