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British Lion / The Raven Age http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/c7/53/e4/British-Lion-Concert-Review-44-1450464145.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 18, 2015    
 
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British Lion / The Raven Age - The Live Rooms, Chester (UK) - 4th August 2015

Okay, I admit it, British Lion surprised me tonight. In a positive way, surprising me in just how good they were. It's not that I was expecting anything but a strong performance from the band, I just wasn't sure just how impressive they would be. Like for probably the vast majority of the audience, a big call tonight was the chance to see Steve Harris in action up close and personal, back playing the smaller clubs instead of distant festival views with Iron Maiden where the stage itself is probably bigger than the whole venue at some of these dates.

First to impress though are The Raven Age, a London-based Metal band who romped through their set in fine style. Michael Burrough was an energetic front-man with the power to deliver strong vocals through some powerful riffing. My only complaint here was their seeming obsession of matching fast, strobe type lighting with their Metal riffing in pretty much every song. Time and place guys, too much of the same effect can just become a distraction. That said, musically they were a fine blend of Metal riffing with enough guitar harmonies and melodies to raise the level above the norm. They will be on tour with Skarlett Riot in October and will be worth checking out.

British Lion hit the stage with the same opening salvo of 'This is My God', 'Lost Worlds' and 'Karma Killer' as opened their 2012 debut album. Whilst I found the album itself a little understated, in this live environment the songs took on a whole new vitality and dynamic that was missing on the album. Richard Taylor had an unassuming yet engaging presence on stage, with strong soaring vocals that drove the songs. 'Father Lucifer' and 'The Burning', although not on the album, have been in the live set since the first tour, and a newer song 'Spitfire' continued the pace with no real let up.

Guitarists Grahame Leslie and David Hawkins were all action and energy, combining effortlessly and making the most of the excellent sound with some stunning and fluid soloing. It's not often that the sound guys get a mention, but the clarity and balance in the venue tonight was excellent, courtesy of long-time Maiden cohort Tony Newton. As for Harris, well you hardly need me to describe his contribution; non-stop energy as he prowled the stage, playing with the audience at every opportunity, whether it was the foot on the monitor pose or bass raised, aimed at the crowd, he mouthed every lyric, every word. Yet despite the fact that it is very much his name above the door, it remained a band performance.

The mix of older, non-album and new tracks continued, highlights being the superb 'A World Without Heaven' before we got encores of UFO's 'Let It Roll' and 'Eyes Of The Young'.

I guess you'll never get away from the Harris effect, but this band is BL. After this type of performance forget the "Steve Harris" prefix and give all the guys the respect they deserve as just BL. I'll acknowledge I had some preconceptions, but as I said at the start – "British Lion surprised me tonight; in a positive way, surprising me in just how good they were." They'll impress you too.

Ian Parry

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