I am I, Primitai & Achilla – Birmingham Academy 2, 27th May 2012

Tonights show was to be the first ever gig by I am I, the new band founded by former Dragonforce singer, ZP Theart.  Support was Primitai and Achilla.

When Achilla came on stage, there weren’t many people in the audience unfortuantely – I suspect the glorious sunshine meant that a lot of people chose to enjoy it while it lasts rather than venturing into a hot venue.  Tonight Achilla are without their excellent guitarist, Daniele Panza who was unavailable, so instead have Jamie Stungo standing in for him.  He certainly seems up to the job and puts in a good performance.  Tonight the band also have a new bass player who really puts in a great show with lots of energy and enthusiasm obvious.  Sadly for me though, while Achilla put in a decent performance, the weak link is MartaMaria’s voice.  She’s got enough power when doing the screams or shrieks, but her singing voice simply isnt strong enough to make them stand out against other similar bands.  Some people may disagree, but sadly unless the vocals sound a lot better on their album (due out in September) than they do live, I really can’t see Achilla getting much bigger than they are already.

By the time Primitai came on stage the crowd was a lot more respectable.  This was their first time in Birmingham, and they went all out to impress the crowd.  Despite the stage being quite cramped as the drumkit was set up in front of I am I’s kit, the band moved around as much as possible and looked to be having a great time.  Their singer proved to be a great frontman and jumped off the stage into the photopit a couple of times (much to the discomfort of the security man), and got up close to the crowd.  A good performance.
After a short break came the headliners, I am I.  Things got off to a bad start when the sound engineer failed to notice that there were no vocals coming out of the PA, until he finally realised after a couple of minutes and turned the vocals up so people could actually hear them.  Luckily once that hiccup was sorted the sound was good and people could enjoy the show.  ZP Theart showed his experience by using the space available to the max and posing for the photographers in the pit (something surprisingly few singers seem to do even though it’s what gets them good photos in the press).  His voice was on top form and he did a superb job of singing the new songs live – it would be understandable if he’d had the odd problem with it being the first ever show but there wasnt even a hint of any difficulty – in fact he made things look effortless.  The rest of the band all put in good performances too and interacted well.  What was particularly impressive was the fact that the album had been delayed by a few days so nobody apart from a handful of press had actually heard the songs, and yet instead of the crowd looking slightly lost as often happens when bands play new material, the crowd tonight were thoroughly enjoying the show.  ZP also showed his experience when it came to getting the crowd to move towards the front – earlier on they’d been fairly spread out, but with his encouragement they all moved forward to make a much more solid crowd near the front.  I’ve seen lots of bands encourage fans to move forward like this with very mixed results, and its only normally the good frontmen/frontwomen who succeed at it.

The only sign that it was the debut gig came when  they brought a keyboard on stage and a female pianist to play it for “See you again”.  The keyboard took far too long to set up and it really broke the atmosphere and brought things to a crashing halt.  Luckily ZP got things going again fairly quickly after the restart, but its something that I’m sure they’ll be looking to improve for future gigs.

Sadly I had to leave before the end due to a combination of factors including weekend train services, but on the basis of tonight’s performance I can see why Bloodstock have taken the decision to put I am I on the main stage – yes they may be a new band, but the music is excellent and ZP has the experience and talent to justify that main stage slot.  I for one can’t wait to see them at Bloodstock.
I am I setlist:

This Is My Life
In The Air Tonight
Inside of Me
Cross The Line
See You Again
King in Ruins
Stay A While
Wasted Wonders
Dust to Dust
Kiss of Judas
Pave The Way
Show Must Go On
Silent Genocide

Achilla Setlist:

Wild flower
The devils eyes
Shout (tears for fears cover)

About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.
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