September 13, 2007
Kamelot holds court again at Key Club
By Rob Swick
Photos by Marco Herrán
Sweeping back into town after nearly a year away, progressive quintet Kamelot packed Hollywood’s Key Club on Sunday, September 2, to promote their latest album, Ghost Opera. Supported on tour by German outfit Leaves Eyes, Kamelot was also joined by local rockers Sacred Storm and Black Temple, plus KingsField from Phoenix.
The pre-show line outside the club included fans who held carnival-style masks, in thematic unity with the concept of the new Kamelot disk. The queue of ticketholders was made up of a broad spectrum of rockers, from goth-girls to skate-punks to metalheads of all flavors. Still, one observer commented that with a headliner like Kamelot, “At least there won’t be a bunch of moshers,” but boy, was he wrong!
The evening’s offerings began with Sacred Storm, a four-piece outfit from Orange County playing a hard-and-heavy brand of metal that’s a little rougher than Kamelot’s baroque style, but nevertheless intelligent and accomplished on its own terms. Led by lanky philosopher-fretman Kenny Krenzing, who sings as well as shreds, additional guitars are supplied by Dave Maciel, who originally played bass on Sacred Storm’s debut CD, Man Versus Machine. Interim five-string bassist Eddie held up handily during the set, while the beat was kept by knockout drummer Lux, a spike-heeled, stone-pro dynamo who’s probably one of the best ladies behind a kit these days. For an opener, Kenny roared into “Legion,” during which he stated that he wanted “to see you guys headbangin’ on this next part,” as he kicked into some lines riffs that could have been lifted from Tony Iommi. “Zero Theory” came next, and then a teen-car tribute, “Thunderchariot,” during which a bit of a mosh-pit erupted. Lux was spotlit for a solo, smiling brightly all the while, and afterward ensued “The Revelation,” a provocative piece with an end-times theme, partly reminiscent of similar matter from Iron Maiden. And then at the end, Sacred Storm busted loose with their new CD’s title track, spurring a circle pit on the floor while Kenny sang of overcoming at last, which is surely a worthy sentiment for a newcomer band of this caliber.
From the flaming heat of Phoenix came Kings Field, a six-man band featuring Renee Riviera on vocals and Emilio Puentes on a Korg keyboard, guitarists Eddie Rojas and Chris Bielecki (playing nearly-twin Jackson axes), bassist Zech Oldham, and drummer Gary Romero. The sextet produced an aerobically-paced form of progressive rock that had heads bobbing and fists pumping.
Next came a crew from Germany called Leaves’ Eyes, which opened with a sweetly-voiced singer named Liv Kristine Espenæs Krull, who looked like a Renaissance maiden in her gown and bodice, and who sounded like a Celtic fairy-maiden. But the uninitiated in the audience were surprised when her vocal partner appeared, her husband Alexander Krull, who had the voice of a metal-mining cave-ogre, along with some of the longest hair in rock-’n’-roll, matched perhaps only by Herman Li of Dragonforce. Leaves’ Eyes touched on themes of Viking heroism and mythology, incongruously melding Liv’s melodic tones with Alexander’s rasp, backed by a pulsing beat that frequently had listeners bouncing on the floor as if lifted by Scandinavian tides. Not only did much moshing take place during this set, but a couple of crowd-surfers ventured forth, and in fact Alexander himself stepped out onto the hands and shoulders of the crowd a time or two. Liv smiled and Alexander growled and the crowd surged and moshed, as Leaves’ Eyes ended aptly with “Elegy.”
While waiting for the headliners to appear, the faithful mask-bearing fans at the front of the audience donned their theatrical face-coverings, ready to participate in the Ghost Opera. A big banner behind the drum kit bore the image of the new CD’s cover, which is that of a tormented fiddler. In keeping with that image, when mist finally began to swirl around the stage, a masked violinist emerged from the shadows and played a moody introductory passage. Then on came Roy Khan and the rest of Kamelot, plunging into Ghost Opera’s opening track, “Rule the World.” Up on a pedestal beside the drums was a female back-up singer, who stood stock-still at attention until needed. The whole band wore black, with Khan clad in a black trousers adorned with metal rings, and a black jacket which apparently bore the salt stains remaining from his energetic performance the night before. On this evening as well, the singer seemed well-prepared to put equal heart and soul into this evening’s presentation. (Indeed, before too long, he was dripping with perspiration.) Likewise, founding guitarist Thomas Youngblood was full of energy for the gig, along with killer keyboardist Oliver Palotai, bassist Glenn Barry, and drummer Casey Grillo.
Kamelot kicked over to “When the Lights Are Down” and “Soul Society” from The Black Halo, during which faces were focused on the stage, the mosh-pit forgotten. The music continued on vigorously through more Ghost Opera music, including “Mourning Star,” and then slowed down for another Halo track, “Abandoned,” which featured keyboard strings and electronic vocal effects. Khan noted that “The Human Stain” is environmentally themed, and that song was accompanied by a moody video introduction on an overhead screen. Thomas was then spotlit for an outstanding solo, and soon thereafter, during “Memento Mori,” on came the brightly-colored, swiveling stagelights, accompanied by whooshing jets of mist. Then it was Oliver’s turn for a solo, which was brisk, whimsical, and inventive. Next came a special treat, because when it was time for “Somewhere in Time,” Khan happily introduced the lovely Simone Simons of the band Epica, who sang a glorious counterpoint to Khan’s role in the song. Simone appeared for that one song only, but that brief shining moment was delightful.
During “Forever,” the crowd was invited to “raise the roof,” and a good effort was made, as the audience echoed the vocal passages belted out by Khan. The backup singer then stepped forth in her own operatic mask for Ghost Opera’s title track, which was followed by “Love You to Death,” after which Khan and his accomplice sagged like ones who had been drained of lifeforce, and the lights went down. And yet – intense chanting brought the boys back for “Karma,” after which Khan held his hand to his ear and asked if the audience had had a good time. Of course the answer was “yes,” yet Khan said he wanted to make sure, stating that he took this very seriously and personally. Ultimately, for a second and final encore, Alex from Leaves Eyes joined a cloaked Khan for “March of Mephisto, and the long-locked growler did a great job filling in for Shagrath, who sang on the original track. And when the March was through, so was the concert, at last, but everyone in attendance knew that full value had been received from this evening of music in Kamelot’s court.
Photos by Marco Herrán