A DragonForce to Be Reckoned With
December 9th, 2015 House of Blues, Dallas, TX. DragonForce takes to the stage at around 8:00pm and all controversy that may have surrounded the band fell to the wayside immediately. When Shelzy and I discovered that we were going to be covering DragonForce for the Heavy Metal ICU and Adrenaline 101 Radio we were ecstatic. We have been following their music since Inhuman Rampage and were happy to see the newest release, Maximum Overdrive, from August of 2014. Unfortunately, as I researched for our interview with lead singer Marc Hudson I came across a disturbing accusation. There are those critics who claim that DragonForce is not as fast as their albums and that they use computer software to increase their overall speed.
Naturally, this accusation could be quite devastating to the band if it proved to be true. Their claim that they are one of the fastest bands in the world hangs in the balance if they can’t back it up live. I asked Marc about the accusation and while he did not want to speak to the technical aspects of the guitar work of lead/rhythm guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman he was adamant that they do not use any software designed to increase the speed of their music. His final answer on the subject: “Watch the live show and you will have your answer”
Before I get to the show itself, I want to talk about our conversation with Marc. He is a down to earth guy who is most assuredly ready to get back to the UK for some healthy food. He remarked that American food is great but it isn’t the healthiest. I told him there are healthy places to eat but with a schedule such as theirs it is difficult to find them sometimes. I asked him about the highly technical guitar work and whether or not Sam and Herman practice alone in order to keep up with the constant lead changes. His answer was absolutely in fact, he said, they sometimes go through an entire show before the show just to ensure they have their parts down. “What happens when there is an issue with Sam or Herman,” I asked. Marc’s answer surprised me. Apparently, a few shows back Sam had fallen ill and went to the hospital. The band was assured that he would be back in time to do the show however; we all know how hospitals work and this was not the case. Sam did not return in time for the start of the show and Herman had to carry the load himself…or did he…? Keyboardist Vadim Pruzhanov is an accomplished guitar player in his own right and he carried the load for the 4 songs that Sam ended up missing. Our time with Marc showed me a number of things about DragonForce. Most importantly they have one another’s back and they can perform very well when the pressure is on.
As for the show all that really needs to be said is that DragonForce is a mind-blowing live show. I am not sure it is possible, but they actually seem to be playing faster when they are live. I had been jaded after all of the negative things I had read in my research but my skepticism was quickly replaced with awe as I watched these two axe wielding mad men churn out note after note at a blistering pace. When you add the time keeping of Frederic Leclercq on the bass and Gee Anzalone, the newest member, on drums you have a show whose energy is off the charts. This is before we even mention Hudson and Pruzhanov on vocals and keyboards respectively. What is excellent is that the band is full of showman and crowd interaction as well. While Herman is shredding his guitar with his tongue Sam is busy mocking him to the crowd. We have been to a ton of concerts and at most of them the bassist or keyboardist stand in their place on the stage and do what they do. Not with DragonForce, these two jump around the stage sometimes more than Herman, Sam, and Marc. I am sure Gee sometimes gets a little bummed that he cannot move around the stage (oh the life of a drummer the most equipment for load-in/out and the least visibility). At one point, before they played perhaps their most popular song Through the Fire and Flames, Totman, Li, Leclercq, and Pruzhanov (guitar in hand) stood in a circle and played each other’s guitars. Drop the mic! Walk Away! Have musicians played each other’s instruments before? Sure, BUT, three guitars and 1 bass at that speed …SICK!!!
This show was phenomenal and it laid to rest, in my mind, any rumors about software enhanced records. If you believe otherwise you have not seen them in concert. If you have seen them and you still believe it, you caught a bad show and I feel for you. These guys, as hard as it is to believe after last night, are not robots. They will have an off night. If you caught one of those shows do yourself a favor and see them again. You will not be disappointed. If you cannot get to a show take a look at the new concert footage DVD In the Line of Fire-Larger Than Live.
JRock & Shelzy