As tight as a can of sardines, Moho Live was filled, surprisingly quickly in anticipation of power metal, destruction and guitar shredding. Lots of it…

To begin the night was Swedish heavy titans Wolf. Fresh from their sets performed at this year’s Hammerfest and Bloodstock Festival, they began their hunt with dramatic ‘Evil Star’ and fierce ‘The Bite’. These tracks got everyone to wail from the top of their throats, which had Niklas Stålvind grinning from ear to ear. Getting the crowd geared for ‘Skull Crusher’ [taken from their new opus “Legions Of Bastards”], Stålvind warned them to get your heads seriously hurt. Taking the lyrics “Can you feel the pain”, by the looks of it, it appears that many heads were above that stage already! The blasts of the drum, leading to the haunting ‘Full Moon Possession’, switching then to heavy grinder ‘Voodoo’ to create what sounds like howls from band and crowd, and ‘K121 Kursk’ during which Stålvind chilled everyone’s spines when he groaned “into the void”. Getting the crowd ready by chanting along with Wolf “Hail Caesar”, as their last track, Manchester ran into a riot to mark their appreciation for the Swedish quartet.

Whilst the stage was getting set for the power metallers Firewind to take the stage, it was announced that lead singer Apollo Papathanasio wouldn’t perform due to family issues two weeks before their Defiance Over Europe tour. Gus G said that the show must go on… So, their replacement for the European tour? Believe or not, it was Therion & Yngwie Malmsteen power force, as well as long-time friend Mats Leven. Gus G ensured fans that they won’t be disappointed. Can we trust him?

Well, as the songs ‘The Ark Of Lies’, ‘Destination Forever’ & ‘Kill To Live’ kicked in, to begin their power trip, Mats swayed everyone to a wave of frenzy with his own flavour. Operatic & soulful that is frighteningly similar to Apollo‘s. At this point, everyone’s worries has eased. Along with optimistic blaster ‘Head Up High’, followed by the ever-popular sing-a-long ‘World On Fire’ [even we were headbanging] and blistering six minute instrumental ‘The Fire And The Fury’ that got heads whipping and bodies flying in this tight room. In here, Gus G expressed his impressive finger skills on the guitar, which got the audience doing their own air-guitaring moves. Then, the speed dropped to what sounds like a movie soundtrack, which cooled the crowd and to appreciate the axeman’s work.

To give time for Firewind to relax until their next brutal assault, rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Bob Katsionis showcased his skills on the ivories, with pleasing crowd interaction. Beautifully rapid playing that didn’t miss a single note, Katsionis led Firewind to another blistering journey with tracks ‘Angels Forgive Me’, ‘Heading For The Dawn’ and the epic sounding ‘Mercenary Man’. Abbreviated as SKG, is another instrumental that our audiences got to witness, through ears and eyes. With a dramatic entrance, it blasts into technically fast guitar and keyboard duel by Gus G & Katsionis that was reminiscent  of walking through an Arabian desert. Speeding up and down and beautifully textured echoes of both instruments, lead to cheers of satisfaction from the crowd.

Next, as Mats Leven explained slower track ‘My Loneliness’ was the time to relax and to sing, everyone’s voices shook the whole room, sometimes louder than the amplifiers until ‘Ready To Strike’, ‘Till The End Of Time’ & ‘Tyranny’ got the crowd to yell from the top of their voices, headbanging like crazy, creating pits and commencing more air-guitaring moves.

Time for a quick break accompanied with roars of “we want more”, stomps of feet and hands signifies one thing; ending the night on a high with an encore. Epicness through songs ‘Into The Fire’ and ‘I Am The Anger’ called for the crowd to use the last of their energy. As the guitars whined with Gus G exclaimed “you need to make the place fucking explode for the last time” as finisher ‘Falling To Pieces’ ended the night powerfully to a very well-fed Manchester crowd.

Smiles, sweat, sore throats and tired fingers all around!

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