This past Sunday I headed to Kentish Town’s O2 Forum for the first edition of Rock On Green Festival; it was a bit surreal getting there and there not being a queue as it’s 4pm doors today. Initially there are only a hundred or so people there and the back part of the forum curtained off which is not something I’ve seen before. Unfortunately I think it is a slightly poor initial turn-out as most people will be here for Amaranthe and Tarja later. It is a shame as the first 3 bands were very good, just a bit of a mismatch with the line-up.
First on are UK based metallers Immension, they do a great job getting the crowd that is there warmed up. My initial thoughts were I’m pretty sure these guys take a lot of inspiration from Metallica; this was very much cemented in when they threw in a cover of Fuel. However they did sway my opinion towards the end when frontman Jake Kearsley swapped his guitar for a keyboard; it showed another side to them which down really well, especially considering the crowd was mostly symphonic metal fans. I really liked the more melodic side to their music, I look forward to see what the future holds for them.
Next on are Paris based Republic of Rock’N Roll, they bring their own brand of bluesy rock, delivering a great performance but it’s a bit lost on many as out of all the bands they seem to fit least in the line-up. As Immension did they also threw in a well known cover; Dream On by Aerosmith. They had some great original songs and overall I enjoyed the set, just a shame that the festival appeared to launch as a symphonic metal orientated festival, with 2 popular female fronted bands on the bill; but the openers were not fitting the bill. It was nice to have a mixture of styles, but just seemed to leave the festival goers confused and hinder ticket sales.
Last up of the opening bands are Octanic, I was pretty surprised to hear they had come all the way from Australia for this show! The Forum had started filling up more as their set kicked off, from start to finish it was high energy, out of the 3 openers they got the best reaction and were my favourite of the 3 so far; I think it helped having the industrial and melodic elements to their music that was more suited to the crowd. The heaviest and most fast paced so far which makes a great build up into the next band of the evening.
Up next were Amaranthe a band I hadn’t had the chance to see live yet, I have always been intrigued how the live dynamic of
having 3 vocalists would work. Downstairs was now completely packed out, the second Amaranthe took the stage the crowd sprang to life in support. I am blown away at what a polished and professional performance they gave. It is refreshingly different seeing a band fronted by 3 vocalists, whilst one is singing the others are constantly goading the crowd more and more into the world of Amaranthe. In their hour long set we get a good mix from their back catalogue and most recent release Massive Addictive (2014); I was pleased to hear that we can expect the follow up to that later this year too. Highlight for me was Electroheart which has always been a favourite of mine, and live it was even more so. Just a shame there was a bit of a low point before the encore; when bassist Johan Andreassen came out to get the crowd going, instead he just insulted them, which unfortunately seems to be what most people were talking about and will remember instead of the incredible performance the band put on. Luckily it was slightly redeemed by a strong encore with heavy hitting tracks ‘The Nexus’, ‘Dynamite’ and ‘Drop Dead Cynical’.
Amaranthe set the bar high for Tarja to follow, one thing I was especially impressed with is how good Elize Ryd’s vocals are. She nailed every note from the high to the held ones, she is genuinely one of the most impressive vocalists I have seen perform live.
Following the release of new album ‘The Brightest Void’ this show marked the start of a new tour cycle, Tarja enters the stage as her band kick off with the intro riff of ‘No Bitter End’ Instantly from the roar of the crowds you know following on from Amaranthe’s awesome set is going to be no problem. What I have always admired about Tarja is how she braves to be different whilst remaining true to herself and always trying something new with her music and tonight is no exception. I was shocked and left in awe when a few songs into the set she announced a cover I’d never have expected ‘Muse – Supremacy’. I was absolutely taken back at how amazing this was, it just highlighted what a talented bunch of musicians she has working with her, and tested her live vocals to the limits. The whole audience was just left in awe at her pulling off all the big high notes to perfection. Another highlight for me was Victim of Ritual, I recall when that single was launched I loved how different that song was compared to her usual work. It was a shame that Tarja also only had an hour as I would have loved more. Tarja and her band brought the day to an end with ‘Over The Hills’ which was a nostalgic nod to what once was. Since the start of her solo career she has gone from strength to strength, I look forward to seeing her again at Metal Female Voices Festival at the end of the year!
Overall a great start with the first addition of Rock On Green Festival, I’m just hopeful if there is another edition the line-up is more well matched so it can continue to grow.
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