Let's be brutally honest here shall we? A crowd of approximately one hundred is hardly likely to encourage bands like Freedom Call and their ilk to make the effort to venture across the Channel is it? The real shame is that Freedom Call put in a performance that would have been fabulous in a much bigger venue and to a much larger crowd.
The vagaries of Manchester's traffic system and the off-the-beaten-track nature of Satan's Hollow allied to an early start because of a club night after the gig meant that I missed both Babylon Fire and all but the final seconds of Neonfly who seemed to go down well. Freedom Call set up their own equipment in the civvies before walking from their "dressing room," which we could all see anyway onto the circular stage and proceeding to unleash a ninety minute power metal masterclass.
"Are you ready for some happy German Metal?" enquired Chris Bay and therein lies the sheer joy of Freedom Call. If you don't find their oeuvre entertaining you're dead from the neck up. Where else you you bang your head to infectious songs about Merlin or bounce up and down to Tears of Babylon?
Highlights are difficult to choose; Blackened Sun, Far Away and United Alliance were three of the four tracks aired from Dimensions and were uniformly excellent. Metal Invasion prompted much fist pumping, new CD Legends of the Shadowking was represented by the aforementioned Tears of Babylon and Merlin-Legend of the Past as well as Out of the Ruins and Thunder God and all went down well.
Due to the tiny nature of the crow requests were easily heard by Herr Bay but Warriors and Mr. Evil were held back until towards the end of the set and at least this reviewer can tick off seeing another of his favourite songs live. As appears to be the way with German bands (well, Helloween for instance) Freedom Call displayed a wacky sense of humour with their banter with the crowd and also by playing the final part of Mr. Evil four times to encourage greater cheering – which actually worked!
Land of Light and inevitably Freedom Call rounded off a perfect night of fun metal but one can't help worrying about the size of the crowd. Recently our very own Alex Torres blogged intelligently about the paucity of attendees at prog gigs. I think we should be worried about the future for metal and progressive music in the UK especially as the recent austerity measures haven't really taken hold yet.