Edguy, Cynic, Black Majesty @ Fowler's Live (Adelaide), 5 Jan 2010

Cynic were peaceful; Edguy was enormous amounts of fun. It was a weird-as-hell lineup, but a great show nonetheless, and a fucking brilliant start to the metal year.


Hot weather always makes me late for gigs. Don't ask me why; maybe it's because I keep waiting for that never-to-arrive time when suddenly the heat of the day states to wane. Or maybe it makes me sluggish. Whatever it is, the summer lethargy hit me this night, which meant that we rocked up to Fowler's Live at the point where openers Black Majesty were already four songs into their set.


Not expecting many people to rock up - like, honestly, how many people are seriously into power metal in Adelaide? Not many! - I wasn't surprised to see only a few people outside having a yarn. What I was surprised to see was a rather decent number of people inside the venue, and, more to the point, enjoying Black Majesty's set.


Of course, if you talked to most people, they had all turned out to see Cynic. Not half as many were keen on Edguy; but the fact that they were enjoying Black Majesty was a good sign.


Black Majesty are a tight little outfit. I only caught, like, two or maybe three songs of their set, but they did a reasonable job. They have a half-decent stage presence, their music is well performed, and, although it's not striking or really even that original-sounding, they were a decent opener.


Except. (There's always one, isn't there?) I am sorry to rain on everybody's parade, but frontman John 'Gio' Cavaliere has trouble keeping key. He's got a good voice, with a nice range - essential if you're a power metal vocalist - but he really struggled this night to stay on-key, and was quite flat. 


This is something that can be overcome. But not when the combination of the lead vocalist and the backing vocalist produces some terrible discordances. I honestly felt a little bit embarrassed for them, because it sounded bad. Who knows - maybe I just happened to see these guys on an off-night, and maybe they are normally right on the money; but it marred my experience of their entire set. Sad, but true.


After Black Majesty, Fowler's was abuzz with excitement over Cynic. This band, hailing from Florida, released just one album in 1993, Focus, before disbanding the following year. Since getting back together they have released one further album, Traced in Air. 

Now, I will admit that I am not overly familiar with Cynic's work, despite being excited to see them. I had heard prior to turning up that the band's set list would be entirely from their latest release, and this caused quite a few people to decide against putting in an appearance. Well, they should have. Not ever having heard Focus myself (how remiss! Seriously!), I can't with conviction tell you what they played, though a few said afterwards that there were at least three tracks off the band's debut full-length that made the set; the remainder were all from Traced in Air.


Cynic played a mellow, peaceful, technical, amazing set. Although, I have to say that it was weird as hell to have these guys wedged in between power metal acts. What would have vastly improved things is if some greater attention had been paid  to the lineup arrangement by the promoter.


That, and a shitload of beanbags and some weed. Not that I'm suggesting drugs are a good thing, or even would have improved matters; but you can't deny that the entire experience would have been on another plane entirely with the addition of some of South Australia's best export. And the beanbags; that would have been awesome.


Don't think I'm taking the piss, because I'm not. The thing about Cynic is that you can't bang your head. You can nod, that's ok. You can tap your hands or your feet or whatever, and that's fine. But mostly, what you do is stand, mesmerised, by the beauty of it.


Until it ended, whereupon the venue erupted (in vain, it turned out) with demands for more. Given that it was a Tuesday night and time was tight, it wasn't possible for Cynic to play any longer - much to the fans' great dismay.


The whole of Fowler's was pretty well transfixed by the set. The entire band, and especially frontman Paul Masvidal, exudes a vibe of complete calm and tranquillity, and this vibe wrapped up everybody in the room. And it helped enormously that the band was tight, the sound was outstanding for a change (I could hear the bass without it being muddy! Wow!), and Masvidal's clean vocals were absolutely spot-on: something people were commenting on, with great pleasure, after they'd finished.


After Cynic played, a good two thirds of the crowd, such as it was - apparently only about 120 or 130 people turned up - departed. It's not surprising that few people turned up for Edguy, Adelaide not really being a power metal-loving town, and few people having even heard of them. But I have to admit, I was rather excited about seeing these guys.


And my excitement was not misplaced. Even though the crowd was vastly diminished by the time Edguy took the stage, the band had an absolute ball. They played their set as though they were playing in front of 40,000 people, and Fowler's little stage seemed even smaller as the vast personality of this band filled it and spilled over it.


Edguy played an absolutely rocking set, punctuated with the sharp and well-placed humour of frontman Tobias Sammet. (And is it just me, or does Sammet bear just a little resemblance, with his hair all spiked up, to Owen Wilson?) In fact, at one point, a girl up the front was heard to yell at Sammet,


'You're so sexy!'


He stopped, smiled, looked at her, and said, 'Thank you. You too. My room number is 614...'


Edguy had the very small audience singing, singing off against each other after being split in half ('2000 over here, and about 2500 over here...' Sammet joked). We sang choruses, tones, and vocal exercises. And the absolute enthusiasm of those who were there, heightened enormously by how much fun the band itself was having, turned this show into one of the most fun I've been to in a very long time.


It was so much fun, in fact, that part-way into the set I found myself comparing an Edguy show to a show by any group of children's performers. They knew exactly how to play the crowd, and by god the crowd loved it and did whatever it was asked.


They played a range of material from their discography - from more than 10 years ago, to the most recent Tinnitus Sanctus. Such a spread had everybody happy: from the almost-past-middle-aged fans who were standing, arms around each other, fists in the air; to the youngest punter there, who would've been maybe seven or eight years old, singing along with the rest of us.


Although this weird blend of bands tended to freak people out a bit, given that it was more than slightly odd, especially in this town, it was a great way to start the year. Taking each separate band on its own merits, this show was awesome.