Demon, Reflection and more at Underworld Club (2006)

Underworld Club (Athens, Greece)

Demon, Reflection, Crimson Fire
Life seems to take rather 'weird' upturns from time to time. More than 25 years […]
By Grigoris Chronis
January 20, 2006

Life seems to take rather 'weird' upturns from time to time. More than 25 years after the birth of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement (called by many as the purest Rock_Metal 'association' ever to emerge in our beloved music's history), Greece has always been the 'poor fellow' when it came to hosting NWOBHM gigs. Thanks to High Voltage Productions, in 3-4 months all British classic Metal music followers had_will have the chance to see legendary bands with cult status. Led by 'mentor' Brian Ross, Blitzkrieg let hell break loose in December while extraordinaire masters Diamond Head (February 19th), melodic rulers Praying Mantis (March 4th) and NWOBHM-pt.II pioneers Grim Reaper (April 15th, 99% confirmed) look anxious to taste the fire through Greek offerings, and I wonder: i) how the hell is '2006' written in my fuckin' calendar, ii) why wasn't I lucky enough to be raised/abandoned in some London East End alley street in the late 70's/early 80's...Crank it up, 'twas the Night of the Demon yesterday!

Having to 'travel' the perimeter of the Athens center - policemen had blocked Exarheia square (plus its 'suburb') for an unknown reason - I was not on time to see Greek Metal young heroes Crimson Fire perform their set. Yet, having caught this band live in the act more than 10 times in the past, Crimson Fire lay on the 80's 'spirited' side of Metal. Some of NWOBHM, a lot of 80's classic Metal and you get the idea. I heard positive reviews for their 30' performance and grabbed a beer to 'sightsee' the Underworld Club for one more time.

The house was packed with 250+ metalheads, something I would never assume that could happen! Familiar over-their-30's faces, mixed with juvenile Metal warriors, created the perfect atmosphere for that night's gig. The lights went dim and it was time for long-running Athenian metallers Reflection to hit the stage. Well, this band has been - live wise - 'inactive' for a long time now and the spectators were rather curious to witness their current level of command, 2-3 years after the release of their latest Odyssey (2003) album.

To be frank, I overall expected something more from Reflection. Their sound was not 'solid', with mainman Stathis Pavlantis' guitar 'buried' in an average mix, while the keyboards were virtually non-present. In addition, frontman Chris Kappas' voice was somehow unstable (minor flu issues, I guess?) in high frequencies. Still, nothing prevented Reflection from spreading 100% of their passion on to the insane crowd, with a vivid performance equal of their 'name'. The Sorceress (from the Odyssey album) put us into the fire while Reflection (one of their oldest tunes) raised high amounts of headbanging! The band seemed to enjoy the club's mood, and Eyes Of The Night (from 2001's - split with Inner Wish - Realms Of The Night mini CD) lent a helping hand in raising fists in the air. Still, the band's When Immortals...Die! opus from their 1993 same titled demo destroyed the whole place. One of the best pieces of European Power Metal ever. In warm applause, Reflection walked off and I expect their next live performance to deal with a better sound. Nuff said!

Prior to the headliner's appearance, I had the chance to chat with lots of dudes. All of them were rather anxious for the Demon performance. It's a fact that Demon gained the majority of their reputation due to the release of their first two legendary albums, Night Of The Demon (1981) and The Unexpected Guest (1982), trying in their remaining career to throw off the 'occult' label these two NWOBHM gems created. Even if - apart from the rather mediocre 2001's Spaced Out Monkey - no Demon album can be treated as less than 'good', to guess the gig's setlist was the most apparent topic among all of us.

Huh...Poor fellows (my ass included) we were, to forecast what was going to happen! A familiar playback intro - somewhere 25 years ago - and Night Of The Demon wrecked all peace. Don't you know it's the night of the demon, when spirits run high... and no head could stand still. A six-piece act with (of course) an evergreen Dave Hill taking command of the entire venue with his mysterious humor-ized face, a living legend 2m away from us, his children. Leaving no space in between, Into The Nightmare ripped our guts out! An ideal, NWOBHM sound supported by the appropriate lights backing, 'transferred' the feeling of the 80s British Metal aura and none would defy.

Carrying on with the same titled track from their The Plague (1983) 'prog' Hard Rock album, tons of intelligent melodies filled the air. It's a shame Demon are mainly known for their first two albums, since their post-NWOBHM catalogue - even if enriched with keyboards_guitars harmonies and a more melodic_pomp approach - is equally notable. Hence, none would object to hear tunes like Blackheath, Wonderland, No More Hell On Earth and Remembrance Day (in no particular order). Featured on their latest 2005's Better The Devil You Know album, Standing On The Edge was the best choice for us to hear from this album. So far, so...great!

Back to the old stuff and Father Of Time & Sign Of The Madman freeze the crowd. It's not fulsome to say that there was shiver allover. Both tunes written 24-25 years ago, they represent the whole Demon philosophy of that time, the mere reason why this act is considered to be in the NWOBHM elite. And then...Don't break the circleee, don't break the circle...! A dream coming true for all fans, to hear this anthem live in front of us...No words can describe the faces seen all around me. There are certain things that justify a music style's reason for existence. Well, both Demon and Don't Break The Circle fit in.

Life On The Wire - a wonderful song from 1987's Breakout album - closed the band's normal setlist, but none would move out. It was not more than one minute later that Demon returned onstage and - under a big applause - blew the speakers with a 100% 'British' version of their Helluva Night 1981 hit! It certainly was a helluva night and who cloud object, judging from the approval of the crowd after 90 minutes of pure Demon music.

Dave Hill's a demon himself. In perfect mood, with a great sense of humor, did not leave a single minute for us to feel bored. Interacting with the audience, he succeeded in creating a perfect atmosphere even for the most 'average' fan. His voice is like wine; I had heard 'bout his live performance before, now I was convinced. Lead axeman Tim Read is the best choice for Demon. Mixing his classic Metal influences with a 'kind' Rock technique, Read delivered his 'goods' 100%, interacting tunefully with fellow guitarist Ray Walmsley (a silent force onstage). The Dale_Ogden rhythm section was accurate and filled with a British Hard Rock_Metal 'touch', while - last but not least - keys man Paul 'Fazza' Farringto became (apart from Hill, of course) my personal onstage fave. Beautiful backing vocals, colorful melodies and - especially in songs like The Plague and Night Of The Demon - the creation of the perfect 'mystical' environment. What more can we say?

This was the Night of the Demon...Even if The Spell shined through its absence, even if only Dave Hill is the only original lineup member in year 2006 (Mal Spooner R.I.P.), the fact that no one could imagine such a kick-ass show speaks for itself. One helluva night , what a helluva night...

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