The very beginning of spring time also brought a wonderful concert related moment for us. British legends Praying Mantis, almost 5 years after their last appearance on Athenian soil, stepped on the stage of the Crow club (a full house and later on there was a sold out announcement) on 23:00 sharp. What followed was a show worthy of the band’s impeccable legacy.
But the night had kicked off a bit earlier with the two Greek support bands. Heavenblack combine power with melodic metal and recently released their first EP. That was the second time I encountered them on a live stage and my first impression remained the same. Their compositions have potential and the band can clearly produce well crafted and catchy songs. What the guys need is a bit more experience and on stage bonding. They are definitely on the right path though.
Reload is yet another band I keep track of since their very beginning and was pleased to find out that the guys (and gal) are about to release a second album. This wasn’t one of their best shows and a problem with the sound contributed to that. During their set I realized that one of the monitors was buzzing and tried to change angle but I was a bit too late since the 40 minute set came to its end. Singer Kostas Tokas remains a total powerhouse with his voice soaring higher than the sky. The new material that premiered is right on track and the band also introduced the new bass player, Panos Zouvelos.
So, ladies and gents… Praying Mantis! Or a band that should have been ranked among the elite of its kind with its fame solidifying a huge global success. But instead of that, its music has reached much fewer ears than deserved. They are definitely not the first nor the last that fall into that category and unfortunately that ain’t gonna change the things no matter how many times we talk about it.
The only thing we can do is dive into their divine melodies. The flawless twin guitars of Burgess and Troy. The bone chilling multi layered vocals of all five members that were delivered live (while the keyboards were pre-recorded but I can understand the challenges that the recruiting a sixth member might present). The legendary songs like Dream On, Letting Go, Lovers to the Grave, Cry for the New World, Children of the Earth. The band was tight and well rehearsed and all songs were delivered in the best way possible. The audience was definitely enthusiastic and forced the band to play cover songs (Simple Man and Don’t Believe a Word) on the multiple encores because they ran out of original tunes!
John Cujipers has proved to be a crucial addition. Apart from his imposing stage presence, he enhanced the result with his clear and strong voice that remained unscathed throughout the entire set. Arjen Lucassen definitely knew what he was doing when he picked him to sing for Ayreon. The preservation of this line-up is of great importance since it has led to an overall rejuvenation, both in studio and on stage. This way we are definitely going to enjoy quality recordings like Legacy and Gravity and shows like this in the future…
Photos: Peter Papapetros