DragonForce Concert Review Nile Theater Mesa AZ 4-19-22
DragonForce Concert Review Nile Theater Mesa AZ 4-19-22 By Roc Boyum
DragonForce made their long awaited return to a sold out ravenous audience at the Nile Theater in Mesa, AZ on April 19, 2022; with special guest Firewind, featuring shred guitarist Gus G. This tour also has two additional great metal bands, Seven Spires and Visions of Atlantis which means; you need to arrive really early if you don’t want to be left standing back by the mech tables when you arrive. Due to a previous engagement that day, I didn’t have the luxury of arriving early and entered the venue during the middle of the set by the symphonic metal band, Visions of Atlantis and found myself walking into a madhouse of wall to wall people. Fortunately, DragonForce had a photo pit and I was able to capture Firewind and DragonForce without the difficulty of photographing through a mass of pumping fists and cell phones in the air.
DragonForce are a band of serious shred musicians no doubt, so one might think that these guys will hit you hard with an all shred, no nonsense show, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Known for their musical style that has been labeled as speed metal or “Nintendo” metal by some, with the latter musical style referring to their type of “bleepy” arpeggios and quick pitch bends by guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman. Their stage, this time around also supported the video arcade theme with two huge arcade style video game machines on either side of the stage in which the band members would climb up on top of and perform. Throughout their show, the mechanical dragon on stage would tell dragon jokes and speak of the band in a joking context, which was quite funny and furthered their non rock star persona.
The band presented a full set of thirteen songs and two encore songs with five songs in the set from their latest 2019 Extreme Power Metal LP that included the blistering opening track, “Highway to Oblivion.” Out of the gate with this full throttle song really set the bar high and is in no way an easy opening song from any standpoint. “Highway to Oblivion” is a monster song, and a real beast to tackle, with the band’s signature lightning fast tempos, scorching vocals by Marc Hudson, insane speed shred guitar sounds and solos by Li and Totman, and the rhythm section of Alicia Vigil on bass, who locks in and keeps right on pace with drummer Gee Anzalone as he unleashes his crazy blast beats and 32nd note double bass drum rolls that are simply mind blowing to say the least!
The circle pit began raging from the first song and continued growing with every song thereafter. The insanity didn’t calm down until guitarist Herman Li addressed the audience, imparting a long introduction to the next song that included the special guest artists; shred guitarist Balmore Lumas from the band “Judicator” and a one time visit on this tour from virtuoso violinist Roddy Chong known from Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Shania Twain and Celine Dion just to name a few. In the tradition of not taking themselves too seriously, the next song was a major left turn departure from their known style and a true country hoedown with Sam Totman on banjo. Are these guys are crazy or what? Check out the fan video below:
At the conclusion of the hoedown jam – singer Hudson commented; I bet you didn’t expect to get that a metal concert, now did you!
Hudson then asked the audience; How many old school DragonForce fans do we have here? Right, this one’s for you, it’s from the very first DragonForce album, this is called “Heart of a Dragon!” This fan favorite has a sing song melody that had the entire audience singing, and even those in attendance who didn’t know the lyrics were heard singing; ooooh ooooh ooooh, …….ooooh ooooh ooooh! as singer Marc Hudson charged on with the melody. The song also has a break that repeats several times throughout the song with the lyrics;
Proud and so glorious, standing before of us, Our swords will shine bright in the sky, When united we come, to the land of the sun, with the heart of a dragon we ride!
This of course had the entire venue throwing their fists high in the air and singing even louder than before.
Hudson then introduced the next song by asking the audience to shout/ or scream two words back to the band, (the song’s title) “Cry Thunder!” Everyone was more than happy to fulfill Hudson’s request and shouted “Cry Thunder” back to the band in every chorus of the song.
The next song “Remembrance Day” is actually the one song by the band that is lyrically, a truly serious song by DragonForce. For this song, Hudson asked the entire audience to wave their lighted phones back and forth in appreciation for our armed forces.
The last song of the regular set was “Valley of the Damned” this song, once again had everyone in the venue, singing along with Hudson. At the conclusion of the song, Hudson dove into the audience for a bit of crowd surfing that had the audience surfing the singer throughout the crowd until he eventually ended up back on stage; great fun indeed!
The two encore songs were; first, a cover of the theme from the movie “Titanic” with the Celine Dion song “My Heart Will Go On” and the second, “Through the Fire and the Flames.” Hudson introduced the first song by commenting; A few years ago, we thought it would be quite funny if we recorded a Celine Dion cover, and for tonight only; we bring to the stage Roddy, the violinist who actually played with Celine Dion for, “My Heart Will Go On!” Musically, this was a DragonForce metal song that was pretty much nothing like the original, with the exception of the lyrics and some basic chords.
The final song of the evening was “Through the Fire and the Flames,” a song that is so synonymous with DragonForce, that singer Hudson acknowledged the song’s iconic identity in his introduction by commenting; A band can sometimes have one song that the fans identify with, and perhaps that song is the only reason that they go to see this band live. How many of you came to see one song ,and one song only? Yeah I know, here it is; “Through the Fire and the Flames!”
DragonForce presents a show that is over the top, and non stop entertainment with a pace that relentlessly charges forward. I invited some people to this show who had never heard of DragonForce before and when the band’s set was over, they too became part of the DragonForce fan family. Look no further if you want a metal concert with brilliant musicians, killer music, a raging circle pit and a night of singing along with a packed house of crazed fans. DragonForce are a band not to be missed; get out there and join the fun!
Get into the world of DragonForce here!
Check out the DragonForce Nile Theater Photo Gallery Here!
The DragonForce Nile Theater set list was:
Highway to Oblivion
Fury of the Storm
The Last Dragonborn
Operation Ground and Pound
(Video with Sega Commercials on Screen)
Dracula’s Castle/Fight On! (Featuring Marc on Guitar)
Banjo Solo/Guitar Solo
Heart of a Dragon
Valley of the Damned
My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion Cover)
Through the Fire and Flames