London, The Underworld
After their astounding performance at Bloodstock Open Air 2012, all American power/progressive metallers Iced Earth are back in the UK with what will be another unmistakably successful live event. A very healthy crowd have rocked up tonight in time to witness openers Steel Engaved, Dead Shape Figure and the awesome Evergrey, all of whom masterfully nourish the hungry Iced Earth fans with short lived but intense sets; they ended up owning every soul squeezed into the venue and then set The Underworld alight for good measure. Tonight’s show proves an opportunity for the Iced Earth to show both strength and stage presence in such a reduced space. The Underworld is not even the originally booked venue, as tonight’s show was supposed to take place at the nearby Electric Ballroom. But nevertheless, Iced Earth are fuelled by gasoline tonight. Their music requires vastness for its live expression, particularly for frontman Stu Block’s relentless pace and captivating magnetism; the Iced Earth live experience generates enough crowd-surfing and head-banging to make security work hard for their cheques. Iced Earth always stay strong to their dominating influences and power metal roots, and this shows on tracks like Wolf and Pure Evil. They deliver such a dominant variation of solid distinct riffs that just make you want to bang your head, or someone else’s, on anything within reach. There is also plenty of wonderfully brutal distortion during Dark City and The Hunter; with these, the whole set becomes devastating, until the final chapter of the encore with Watching Over Me. The sound is full, rich and layered thanks to guitarists Jon Schaffer and Troy Seele; this is a great performance, a storming set delivered by a band who know who they are and where they have come from.