Some people might think, judging me by my name, that I like Punk music exclusively. It might be expected that anybody foolish enough to change their name by Deed Poll to Punky Rennie is not going to like any other music. It’s not true though. I actually have quite a broad taste in music and if you read some of my previous blogs, including My Life in Music, Parts 1 and 2 and Punky Rennie on Desert Island Discs, you will see that my taste in music ranges from Opera, via Folk and Cheesy Pop to Punk and Metal. Punk is my first and main musical love but I have plenty of time for other kinds of music.
So on Saturday, Darcy and I decamped to 53 Degrees in Preston to see Dragonforce. When we arrived, there was a queue as long as the Nile, so we went into the Mad Ferret; Darcy for a JD, Ice and Water and me for a swift half. When the drinks were safely ensconced in our stomachs, the queue had shrunk to the length of Tolbooth Street in Falkirk (look it up) so we joined the end and were very quickly inside the venue.
I make a point of checking out the support bands at Gigs and have discovered some great bands that way, one of the first being The Straps. However, the first two bands, Glamour of the Kill and Sylosis, did not really do anything for me, not that we heard much of the first support but the second support sounded too derivative for me.
However, Sabaton, the third support, was a different matter. Right from the start it was brilliant. The band came on to a huge fanfare with huge grins on their faces and looking like they were going to have a good time, come what may. They all had magnificent beards, including the keyboard player, Daniel Mÿhr, who, from my vantage point, looked a bit like George Dawes. With a magnificent beard, of course.
Then Joakim Brodén, the lead singer ran on stage. It was getting better. He had a Mohawk (well, that’s what I call a short Mohican) and I love that hairdo; well, on a man, anyway. He was grinning too. Definitely a good sign. It was an indication of things to come as he spent the whole time during the set having what can only be described as a brilliant time. I can only name two of their songs: Cliffs of Gallipoli and Metal Machine; my hearing’s shot at at the best of times so I don’t always hear what the songs are called.
What I can say is they were great. I really enjoyed their set, the music was great and they were really appreciative of the reception they got. Early on during their set, Joakim made this very clear and he kept thanking us for the reaction the band was getting at regular intervals during the gig. He kept me amused too, twiddling with guitarist, Rickard Sundén’s nipples, ostensibly as some kind of effects pedal.
After a while, I realised the other guitarist, Oskar Montelius, looks like my son, Harry. Well, he looks like Harry would look if he had a long, plaited beard, which he doesn’t. At practically the same time and with a timing that suggests he can read my mind, Darcy turned to me and said “Doesn’t he look like Harry?” pointing at the bearded guitarist in question. Once that fact had been established, I came over all gooey and maternal. I know Harry is 23 and Oskar is probably even older (even though he looks very young to 40-something me) but they always stay your baby.
All too soon for me, which is amazing considering we had come to see Dragonforce, Sabaton’s set finished. I determined that I will buy a CD, so I need to find out if they’re as good in a studio as they are live. There are quite a few bands I love live but can’t be doing with on CD so I need to know these things.
So, after a wait, Dragonforce finally came on. I’d agreed to come to see them on the strength of two tracks, Through the Fire and Flames and My Spirit Will Go On. I love the duetting guitars of Herman Li and Sam Totman and was looking forward to seeing them live.
I wasn’t disappointed. The music was great and they were fabulous entertainers. Herman Li is small but perfectly formed but I was very disturbed by his habit of licking the guitar. It was freezing in there and I was worried his tongue would stick to the guitar and it would have to be freed with judicious use of warm beer. Z P Theart, the lead singer, bore an uncanny resemblance to Captain Jack Sparrow. I kept expecting him to shout “Ahoy there, me hearties!” Oh no, that’s Captain Pugwash, isn’t it? Vadim Pruzhanov, the keyboard player, is blessed with extraordinary energy and co-ordination. There is no way I would ever be able to play the keyboard and do high kicks at the same time. He was also able to come down from his exalted position (high up on the left hand side of the stage) to slum it with his keytar with the guitarists, bass player and front man. Frédéric Leclercq, the bassist, is just totally rock and roll. Unfortunately, I really can’t speak for his bass playing; my hearing is not brilliant and I hear higher registers better than lower ones. The same is true for the drumming and Dave Mackintosh was hidden away behind his drum kit.
We had to wait until the final song of the encore for Through the Fire and Flames. We were treated to the intro and then the band walked off stage. We all stood there with amused smiles on our faces, confident they would return. Which they did, except with everybody on the wrong instruments and Herman Li on high pitched vocals with a comical Chinese accent. My amused smile started to get a bit strained but then they all went back to their proper stations and we got the song in its proper form. It was a great finish to a really enjoyable gig.
Well, you may say that Punk and Metal fulfil a similar need for a Punky Rennie and that may be so, although I would tend to favour Thrash Metal over the more melodic variety provided by Dragonforce to satisfy my appetite for aggressive and obnoxious music. However, in case anybody thinks my taste in music is restricted to loud, fast music, I beg to differ. We’re going to see Kate Rusby next.