5th June, 2016
Review and Photography by Graham Hilling
The first Rock on Green festival came to London for a one dayer in June. Sporting a truly international, if slightly mismatched, set of bands, and completing the lineup with Amaranthe and Tarja, it promised to be an interesting evening..read on to see how interesting!
I arrive at the Forum for the early 4pm doors to find a sparse but enthusiastic crowd that greets the first band of the evening, Immension from Sheffield.
These guys have a well honed sound and a polished performance, although they do wear their influences on their sleeves with many of the songs screaming Metallica!
It’s all very well executed though and they go down very well. There is a bit of a change towards the end of the set where vocalist Jake Kearsley swaps his guitar for a keyboard, bringing a whole new dimension to the sound and shows a different side to the band.
So, full marks to Immension, a very enjoyable performance and I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for more London shows!
Next up are Republic of Rock ‘n’ Roll from Paris, France. Now, these guys are unsurprisingly more rock than metal and personally I think their presence on the bill was maybe a little misplaced.
It seems much of the audience don’t really know what to make of the band and I have to say I couldn’t really get excited over the set. Even the inclusion of a cover of “Dream On” by Aerosmith didn’t do it for me.
Next band up on the stage are Octanic. These guys take the award for travelling the greatest distance to play this evening, coming all of the way from Australia!
The band have an unusual sound combining death metal influences with a touch of industrial style and add in some keys for good measure. They certainly crank up the energy levels in the venue and are very well received.
There’s no shortage of enthusiasm from frontman Jason Shepherdson as he stomps around the large Forum stage.
He looks pleased as punch to be playing here this evening and his enthusiasm works its’ magic on the crowd. The faster paced songs hit the mark and set the scene nice for Amaranthe to take to the stage.
In truth, most of the punters here this evening will have come to see Amaranthe or Tarja and this is borne out by the sparkling reception that Amaranthe get.
I’ve seen this band several times and as their sound has developed they have become a little too much pop, too little metal for my rather narrow taste.
This evening though, they are on form and sound more metal than pop and it is most welcome.
They rattle through an impressive set of songs, starting in typical vein with “Digital World”. The rest of the set is taken in liberal measures from each of the three studio albums, including “1,000,000 Lightyears” and “Hunger” from the self titled first album, taking us right back to 2010.
The trio of vocalists works brilliantly, giving Amaranthe quite a unique sound in many ways.
Elize Ryd struts around the staging doing quite amazing high kicks and adding impressive female vocals, Jake E. Lundberg always looks pensive, and Andreas Solveström looks pretty happy, belying his massive roaring vocals.
Leaving the stage after an impressive rendition of “Call Out My Name” they eventually return for an encore after a rather strange attempt by bass player Johan Andreassen to drum up some support, branding the crowd “lazy fuckers” and urging them to “make some noise!”
He obviously doesn’t realise this is a London crowd- they’re lucky to get people out of the bar, let alone make some noise for an encore! This actually leaves a bit of a bad taste and it’s a shame because, tonight, Amaranthe were as good as I’ve ever seen them!
Finishing with a fine trio of songs, “The Nexus”, “Dynamite” and crowd pleaser “Drop Dead Cynical” they finally leave the stage for good.
So to the climax of the evening. Tarja is always great live, she is indeed 100% professional and it’s great to see how happy she looks this evening, genuinely overjoyed to be playing.
I was interested to see how much her live sound would change now that drummer Mike Terrana had left the band. His drumming was always impressive but could sometimes almost overpower the music.
Replacement drummer Ralf Gustke has a nice touch and while lacking the bombastic approach of Terrana I’m happy to report that the overall sound was just great.
Tarja has less time than normal this evening, having been allocated just about an hour. Showcasing songs from the current album “The Brightest Void” and forcoming album “The Shadow Self” it’s easy to see why she has become so popular.
“No Bitter End” and “Demons in You” both hit the mark spot on. By the time we get to the Muse cover “Supremacy” Tarja has warmed who voice up and we are all in awe of the amazing vocals on this track.
At the end, she comments, almost as much to herself as the audience, “..now that is a difficult song to sing!”.
Then comes an awesome cover of John Barry’s “Goldfinger”, a classic song given the Tarja treatment to great affect and then crowd favourite (and a personal favourite of mine), “Victim of Ritual”.
All note perfect, and executed without putting a finger wrong. “Until My Last Breath” and “Over the Hills” end the entertainment for the evening.
So, no complaints from the first Rock on Green festival, it would have been nice to have had a bigger crowd but you can’t have everything and those that did come along this evening were treated to an evening of excellent music.