By Odin’s Beard, tonight was good!
Having relaxed during the day I got ready and headed to the Forum Karlín for 6ish. The venue itself is a peculiar one. It’s located behind a railway line in what seems to be a desolate area apart from the shopping centre the venue is in, it’s all very confusing really. Now normally when I buy a standing ticket, this allows me complete freedom around the while floor but not in the Karlín, they barricaded off the front circle so only people who had paid more could access it. Luckily I got in early enough so could stand at the front of the barrier, of the peasant section. I still got a good view so not complaining.
The first band on was Grand Magus. I’d heard them before, in a compilation album many years before bit immediately they blew me away. They came out to an epic soundtrack which would befit any dark fantasy film and they hit the ground running. There’s only three members but the guitarist and bassist shared vocal duties and they really warmed the crowd up. From what I could gather, they have quite a following, well in Prague at least, as people were singing along and chanting away which is very uncommon for a introductory band.
The next band on was Testament, a band who are widely considered part of the Big 4 of Bay Area thrash metal and they proved this tonight. They came on to rousing applaud from the crowd and absolutely decimated the stage from start to finish. They’ve been going since 1983 and this was very easy to see as their stage performance was absolutely impeccable. The frontman, Chuck Billy even injected some comedy into their act as he strutted around the stage playing the air guitar. At one point, during Alex Skolnick’s solo, Billy insisted the crowd watch his air guitar instead of the actual shredding going on.
Testament played for a fantastic 45 minutes before they called time and got the stage set up for the headliners.
Amon Amarth entered and gave probably the most theatrical performance I have ever seen. I’ve seen them play twice before but both times previous, there were extraneous circumstances, one festival show and another in which the vocalist was sick so it was a mixture of stand ins, instrumentals and even audience participation. This time was different, this time was a full lineup, full headline show.
The reason I claim it’s the most theatrical show is because they had viking re-enactment performers fight onstage, wave flags, threaten people with weapons and even the Trickster Loki floated about. And then during the encore, they had a massive inflatable serpent rise at the side of the stage, all of this while the drum riser was a viking horned helmet and the banners at the back of the stage dropped to give a different atmosphere.
At 10.45pm, the main lights turned on and everyone was herded outside. But I can safely say I’ve now been there, done that and got the official t-shirt.