Tell the boys to step aside, tell the girls to form a line, because Riot V are back again celebrating the 30th anniversary of their 1988 classic 'Thundersteel'.
Kicking off proceedings on this clammy Tuesday night is the fairly new Rising Five and not having heard much material, I'm intrigued to witness the vocal prowess of Mike Tirelli (ex-Holy Mother and Burning Starr etc.) in the flesh. The floor is somewhat empty to begin with but Rising Five's evident professionalism and tight sound entice a sparce crowd to float somewhat near the front of the stage. Mike Tirelli's traditional, melodic vocal projects across the venue as it is often teamed up with a surprisingly heavy, almost industrial vibe from the guitars and rhythm section. They work through a short but varied set including tracks from their upcoming EP No Death Reborn and finishing up with Holy Mother's 'The River' where Mike Tirelli's Dio-esque vocal style can very much be heard. Tirelli has been an integral cog in the heavy metal machine for decades including previously providing vocals for tonight's headliners and this powerful performance is very promising. You can keep up-to-date with Rising Five's whereabouts right here.
|Photo: Warren Newman|
Re-entering the room after a short break and the ground is quite literally shaking and breaking beneath us. It must be time for Primitai. These lads are no stranger to Camden stages and waste no time increasing the energy in the room as they deliver a razor-sharp set. The band's unique sound grabs the crowd's attention in full force as guitarists Srdjan Bilic and Sergio Girón deliver 80s inspired melodies juxtaposed excellently with Guy Miller's powerful, rough and more modern vocal and commanding stage presence. The band gel flawlessly on stage and it's clear to see that their recent release The Calling and successes with Dissonance Productions have ensured that they've got a well-deserved growing fan base. Primitai certainly never fail to impress. You can check out and buy their newest album right here.
|Photo: Dani Ben Haim|
It's finally time for Riot V to take to the stage and the buzz in the air is infectious as the room begins to fill. It's been many a year since Riot have headlined a UK tour and since then they have experienced a career full of successes, many esteemedd releases and of course grieving the loss of founding member and legend Mark Reale. They are back again and the minor name change not only respects and pays homage to Riot's history but also paves the way for the band's new chapter. On this tour, they've been celebrating the anniversary of Thundersteel - an album which many fans believe to be some of their greatest work.
Long-standing members of the band Mike Flyntz and Don Van Stavern take pride of place as does guitarist Nick Lee whilst Frank Gilchriest does so behind the skins. The Camden Underworld is already full as fists raise in the air waiting to revel in this long anticipated set. Vocalist Todd Michael Hall enters the stage as a warrior enters battle... his Herculean presence already dominating the hall. Boy does he have big boots to fill as he takes on the works of vocal masters Guy Speranza, Rhett Forrester and Tony Moore etc.
Wasting no time at all, Riot smash through the atmosphere with 'Victory' taken from their newest album Armor of Light, continuing on with 'Angel's Thunder, Devil's Reign'. A few numbers down and we are gifted with 'Tokyo Rose/Rock City' taken from the 1977 album Rock City- a surprising but pleasing addition. The crowd presumably in awe are somewhat sombre, as Todd Michael Hall remarks on the lack of movement. Almost as if foretold we hear the opening drum barrage to 'Flight of the Warrior' and the sing-a-long is in full swing. Todd Michael Hall takes on every single note with great ease and confidence and this continues into the incredible 'Bloodstreets' delivered with intense passion and power. The band's spirit is truly vibrant.
Surprisingly, the tracks from Thundersteel are embedded in-between a handful of other Riot numbers from their back catalogue including 'Heavy Metal Machine', 'Angel Eyes' (joined by Mike Tirelli on vocals) and a personal favourite 'Road Racin''. However, it is surprising to not hear the celebrated album in it's entirety as previously assumed. Complaining about this would be foolish however as we are privileged to hear 'Johnny's Back' and 'Sign of the Crimson Storm' amidst the rest of a brilliant set.
Don Van Stavern holds a large bottle of tequila in the air as an inflatable sword stands tall in front. The crowd cheer and the room shakes along to 'Swords and Tequila' and another Riot classic 'Warrior'. The now bare chested Todd Michael Hall opens his arms and tells us he knows what we all came for- and well, he isn't wrong. Before he could even finish, the infamous riff to Thundersteel's title track sends the crowd into a frenzy as everyone's balls drop and they attempt to hit those killer high notes in the first line "A streak of lightening, comes shooting through the air!". What a feeling- and clearly the band feel it too as they evidently enjoy the reception.
Regardless of the fact that it would have been extra special to hear all of Thundersteel in it's intended order, this was a show of a lifetime. The energy was consistently strong throughout and it was inspiring to see heavy metal fans of all ages enjoy songs from Riot's history as well as some of the most excellent newer material. Tonight, Riot showed that they're keeping the legacy alive to the highest degree and we're sure Mark Reale would be nothing more than proud.
We hope Riot will be back again. Very soon.
Writer: Kayleigh Griffin