DragonForce is, in my opinion, the PSY of the metal world. Woah, pitchforks down, guys. Admit it, they smashed through the barriers of their genre with a single song and became a household name years ago to people that did not necessarily listen to their style of music. What I did not know was just how deep the band and their fanbase ran beyond “Through The Fire And The Flames.” As an almost sold-out Opera House greeted the British power metal band with open arms, and clenched fists, I knew I was going to experience something far beyond a one-hit-wonder.
The only opening band, Once Human, kicked things off and on a way heavier note than I expected. Front woman, Lauren Hart was an absolute powerhouse on vocals, with guttural screams that came out of nowhere alongside the heavy, progressive riffs, and machine gun-like double kicks. Seriously, she had a growl and power stance that could scare off a grizzly bear. Hart furiously belted it out for half an hour and was smiling between each song, acknowledging the surprisingly responsive crowd, some of which were already familiar with the band’s material. Amongst their original material, they also played a cover of Machine Head’s “Davidian,” a cover that only seemed fitting since guitarist Logan Mader was the band’s original guitarist. During their last song, Once Human brought out Dragonforce’s bassist to share vocal duties and show off his impressive screaming abilities. At the end of the night, there were a few more Once Human fans.
DragonForce soon exploded on stage in a frenzy of speed and power. Their over-the-top, uplifting power metal style and signature harmonized guitar shredding was well received by the audience. So much, so that lead singer Marc Hudson was quick to bring up that the previous night’s Canadian stop was the best of the world tour so far and Canada was a much crazier audience than they’d ever expected. The crowd surprised me too. Each song the band played, no matter how old, were all equally received by chanting and moshing.
The night’s highlights, however, came when they started to have fun with the crowd between their songs. The banter was well received; from their bassist playing a shredding guitar solo (is there anything Frédéric Leclercq can’t do?), to starting a hilarious call-and-response bit with the audience, and even integrating songs like Sonic’s Green Hill Zone. Other moments like getting the crowd together for an almost overly-lengthy chant along to “Cry Thunder” proved they were certainly comfortable in front of the Torontonian crowd and maybe almost too comfortable as they often took several minutes between songs to chat up the audience about nothing or to order drinks on stage.
When they came out for their predictable encore, they were greeted by an overwhelming “Welcome To Canada” chant, one that certainly made the band feel right at home. Surprisingly enough, when they had one song left, and asked the crowd what they wanted to hear, the majority sided with chanting “Three Hammers,” and so DragonForce fit an extra song in their setlist because we all knew what the real ender had to be. When it came time to say goodnight, the pre-programmed keyboard lines of “Through The Fire And Flames” rang through the venue, and the biggest pit of the night was soon to follow. Quite honestly, it was one of the biggest pits I’ve seen at the Opera House and was the best way to end the night.
Despite the constant accusations I’ve heard since 2007 about how DragonForce can’t play live or need to slow down their material drastically, I was pleasantly surprised with not only the musician’s performances but the crowd’s energy. A present keyboardist would have been great, but their backing tracks were rarely a distraction and filled up the sound very nicely. DragonForce have no reason not to come back in a few years.
Written by Mathieu Perrier
Photography by Gabby Rivera
*edited by Danielle Kenedy