You’ll have to travel a long way within the confines of this Great Southern Land to find a power/trad metal band who deliver the goods in such a consistently entertaining manner than Sydney’s Darker Half.
Led from the front, as ever, by singing guitarist Vo Simpson, and still adjusting to the loss of long time axepert Jimmy Lardner-Brown, the band treats the sparse Canberra Wednesday night crowd to a tight set packed with the usual high-grade musical treats. Stranger is a particular highlight, and if Simpson’s voice sounds a little strained on the band’s spirited run through of Number of the Beast it doesn’t detract from the sheer enjoyment engendered by the performance.
This band don’t do bad shows, and though this wasn’t one of their best, it still served as a superb warm up for the main event.
Talking of which, it must be hard for a band with as grandiose plans and schemes as Dragonland to find themselves playing in a suburban pub in front of a few battle-hardened soldiers of metal on a parky Wednesday night. This doesn’t visibly deter the band though, who rip into opener Shadow of the Mithril Mountains from 2011’s Under the Grey Banner with all the gusto and aplomb you’d expect from such seasoned veterans.
It’s ridiculously pompous, of course, but those who’ve taken the trouble to come out lose their collective shit immediately, and the band respond to this love with a committed performance. A Thousand Towers White, also from Under The Grey Banner follows this up, the band now fully firing, and they don’t step down from this lofty height until the dying moments of their gloriously overblown take on Limahl’s Never Ending Story.
Vocalist Jonas Heidgert, looking dapper in a nice dress shirt that’s strikingly incongruous with the music thundering out from the PA, has a fearsome scream on him, and hits all the right marks throughout, whilst the superbly named bassist Anders Hammer comes equipped with a superb technique and Steve Harris-approved tone, surely a prerequisite for this style of music.
The doom-laden Dûrnir’s Forge is a real highlight, but it’s a struggle to favour any one particular aspect of the band’s uniformly strong performance.
Hopefully crowds will pick up for this tour as we approach the weekend – Darker Half you know will never disappoint – but Dragonland are one of the great Euro power metal outfits and it would be a tragedy for them to come all this way to play to half-empty rooms. If you love this kind of music, music, you need to see this show!
For More details on the rest of the tour, go HERE