Say what you want about the long slide from September to Christmas, it’s always a great time to get out the house (or in my case the hotel) and head out into the big wide world, then think “sod that, it’s a bit cold” and dive into a venue to catch a kick ass band.
It’s no secret that we’ve been fans of the Raven Age for a while now. Like many others we first really paid them any attention when they were picked to join Iron Maiden on their world jaunt but, well, having Steve Harris’ son in the band may get you so far but there comes a point where that counts for nothing. We saw the band at Hammerfest last year and were impressed how well they did there, but this was going to be something altogether different, their own headline tour.
Still not sure about bands selling “meet and greet” packages though, but I guess if there’s a market for them it helps keep the tour machine rolling.
Right, so, would anyone remember them from Maiden? Did they make any long term fans supporting Anthrax? We know what they can do on the big stage but how would they do up close in a wee club?
Enough questions, let’s find out.
Unfortunately after a slight logistical hiccup (never let someone with no sense of direction look for a parking space in a city like Manchester) we arrived at The Star And Garter to find the answer to the first two questions. The place was nicely jumping, and judging by the sing-along that was in progress a lot of people there knew ALL the words. As CB weren’t photographing this one we took we took up position out of the throng and cast a critical eye over proceedings.
And spent the whole gig wishing we’d brought a camera. Cest La Vie.
From a vantage point further back than we were used to, it was immediately apparent that The Raven Age are hitting this headline tour hard. It’s not often you see a band deliver an arena sized performance to a small club but that’s what happened here. Darkness Will Rise sounds simply huge, and you can tell from the look on frontman Michael’s face that he’s really enjoying himself. Once again we’re really impressed by the rhythm section, the band may have been best known for guitarist George’s parentage but it’s the pounding bottom end laid down by Drummer Jai and Bassist Matt that really gives The Raven Age their bite.
That’s not to say that George and fellow axeman Dan are shrinking violets, trading riffs and solos in a guitar hero stylee.
The Raven Age live are about as tight as you could ever want, even before the tour really hits its stride. They also have that crowd pleasing spark, we may have been spared Jai’s joke, but we did get to nod our heads to Age Of The Raven so all is well in the world. Considering this was only the second night of a proper European tour it was more or less faultless, and from what we know about the intensity of the music fraternity on the continent we’re pretty sure the Raven Age are going to go down a storm over there.
You do get the feeling that the whole band know that this is the day, this is the hour. If they manage to build on their fanbase with this run of dates then the next time they hit these shores it’ll be the Academy sized venues they’re packing out.
Based on tonight’s performance, I’m not going to bet against that.