Last weekend, I went to see Kamelot at Slim’s in San Francisco. Having seen Kamelot last year when they opened for Nightwish, I was expecting a pretty amazing show, and I was not disappointed.
We arrived about 20 minutes before the doors were scheduled to open, to find a line of fans already stretching a block away from the venue. I was approached by a couple of befuddled passers-by, who wanted to know what was going on that had so many people lined up. “It’s Kamelot,” I replied, to blank looks. “They’re a power metal band, from Florida,” I added. That seemed to satisfy, if not enlighten them, and they wandered off. (I’m not sure why I always feel compelled to mention where a band is from when I’m describing them. If it conveys any information about the band’s sound at all, it’s only to the relatively knowledgeable.)
We got into the venue early enough to grab a spot relatively close to the stage – about 3 or 4 people back.
First up were Eklipse. If you’re not familiar with Eklipse, they’re a string quartet that plays covers of pop and rock songs. This is the kind of thing that could easily be just a silly gimmick, but Eklipse somehow combine the right level of musicianship, obvious love for the material, and stage presence to make it more than that. Very entertaining. They’ll be opening for The Mission on their German tour later this year, so if you’re going to see The Mish, don’t skip their opening act. They’re worth seeing. I particularly enjoyed their covers of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams” and Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Right Round”, but maybe I’m just showing my age.
A couple of photos of Eklipse:
Next up were Delain. I’ll be honest – musically, Delain aren’t my cup of tea. I find them just a bit too slick and polished – I like my metal with at least a bit of bite, a bit of rawness to it. However, they played with plenty of heart and showmanship, and I can’t bring myself to entirely dislike a band who are clearly giving it their all. And plenty of people in the crowd were clearly having the time of their lives.
Plus, you can’t say they aren’t photogenic. I think these are some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken of a band:
By the time Delain had finished their set, Slim’s was packed to the gills. Those of us up near the front were packed in shoulder to shoulder, and it was hot. When Kamelot hit the stage, I started to tear up – not because it was an emotional experience, but because I was sweating so much that it dripped into my eyes and blinded me. Ooof. We’ve got clever engineers out here in the Bay Area – can someone solve the problem of adequately ventilating a packed venue?
Anyway, Kamelot put on a great show. They played a good selection of new material from their Silverthorn album and older songs. (I’ll admit, I felt like a bit of imposter up there near the front, since everyone around me knew all the lyrics to the new songs, and I don’t.) Singer Tommy Karevik does a great job of engaging the audience, getting them to sing along. He has this very goofy but fun bit of stage schtick where he pretends to have a giant invisible volume knob, which he “turns up” to get the crowd to scream louder, and then “turns down” to get the crowd to fall silent. Really fires up the crowd. Over the course of the set, we got a drum solo, a keyboard solo, and a bass solo. Eklipse joined the band onstage for a performance of “My Confession”. And of course, they topped the whole thing off with an encore performance of “March of Mephisto”. It was the complete Kamelot experience.
I didn’t get many photos of Kamelot, because we were so packed in there that I barely had enough room to get the camera up to my face, and there was way more jostling around than even the image stabilization software on the camera could deal with. I did get this shot, which I like:
And my husband, who is taller than I am, grabbed this shot: