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Date: 9/20/06
Venue: BB King Blues Club, New York
Reviewed By: Rich Catino

Kamelot setlist :

The Black Halo
Soul Society
The Edge of Paradise
Center of the Universe
The Spell
The Haunting
When The Lights Are Down
Memento Mori
March of Mephisto

Epica setlist:

Hunab K'U
Dance of Fate
Mother of Light
Cry for the Moon
Solitary Ground
Crystal Mountain (Death cover)
Seif Al Din
Facade of Reality
The Last Crusade
Consign to Oblivion
The Phantom Agony

Pre Show backstage:

After completing a few successful dates last September for the first time in the U.S. Kamelot returned in 2006 for something a bit more extensive with twenty stops in all, two joined by Epica . Prior to show time I caught up with mainman Thomas Youngblood and the band backstage, minus singer Roy Kahn, to get an update on the near future and the forthcoming release of their DVD entitled “ One Cold Winter's Night” out October 24 tentatively for the States. The limited edition is 2 CDs/2DVDs together but you can also buy it separately.

Thomas said the band is in the midst of writing the new record and it was too early to tell what its sounding like although it would be a bit heavier yet still retaining a lot of melody. He assures fans that their trademark sound they have established since “The Fourth Legacy” will remain in tact while they intend on branching out trying a few new ideas.

When discussing the DVD I asked about the setlist and why there were no old songs included from the first three albums when Roy was not in the band and he said that is because those songs are copywritten and part of their previous Sanctuary deal. “The Fourth Legacy's” ‘Nights Of Arabia' is the oldest song and nothing pre dates that album. Every song they play from the back catalog we have to pay a lot of money for. Even so he wasn't sure if he would include those songs in the setlist because Roy would have to be comfortable singing them. We still have people coming to the shows asking why we ignore the first three records. Thomas feels most of the fans are from the last three or four records and plus the band wants to make sure they play the songs they want to play. The vocals on those first two records are different from Roy 's take on Kamelot's music.

As far as the quality of the DVD Thomas is very happy stating that the band always strives for a certain level of perfection when both recording and playing Kamelot's music and that is a priority to what he is trying portray the band as. So even the backstage material was well done and he was adamant is stating that he didn't want it to look cheap or low budget.

The Show

Epica are from the Netherlands and make music similar in sound to Nightwish in the sense that the band is fronted by female voice Simone Simons with an operatic style. They also utilize a male voice at times also handling leads. Now what separates the two bands is that the male voice from guitarist Mark Jansen is a very deep guttural style like what you would hear in a Death Metal band, reminiscent of Chuck Schuldiner of the band Death. Epica even do a Death song in their set where vocals are only done by Mark.

Musically Epica are more progressive than Nightwish having two guitar players and a keyboardist composing an edgier sound and gothic feel. The band had a lot of energy getting into parts of the songs by headbanging in unison and Simone's voice was very much up to par with what she accomplishes on disc. The crowd also enjoyed them very much as they chanted EPICA at the sets end.

Kamelot are finally getting some recognition in their home country, well singer Roy is from Norway , after ten years of making music which is great to see. I always thought they had something to offer amongst the formidable names of European Power Metal (Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray, Stratovarius , Angra , Rhapsody, Edguy , Helloween ) as the strength of the guitar riffs mixed with classical and at times Middle Eastern flavored keyboards, dynamic vocals from Roy Kahn creates their style and sound and makes them individuals among their peers.

As a live band they pay very close attention to every detail when recreating the music. The live mix between instruments lets Roy 's voice carry throughout the venue rockin the audience complete with precise drum beats, guitar riffs and bass lines going hand in hand with the other and keyboard parts cascading. A well rehearsed and trained group of players, although I think that quick burst of artificial snow that sprayed out the top right side of the stage missed its cue, ooppss .

The energy of the band and crowd was great and Epica front woman Simone made an appearance to sing some guest vocals for “The Haunting” which she did for the track off “The Black Halo”. The band hit upon almost all the tracks from their forthcoming DVD “One Cold Winter's Night” but unfortunately nothing pre “The Fourth Legacy”.

A great showing for two more European style bands in the New York area and it really looks like this music has not only found its audience but a growing one at that. Glad to see it finally happening.

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