What a good way to warm up for another year full of more gigs than with a low key warm up Praying Mantis gig before they head off to Japan for gigs in Tokyo and Osaka.
Japan has been kind to Praying Mantis over the years. Whilst the rest of the world was getting drenched in a sludge of grunge in the early nineties, the Japanese market was lapping up a trio of albums; 'Predator In Disguise', 'A Cry For The New World' and 'To The Power Of Ten' which kept the band very much alive.
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Despite an ever changing line up, which at times have included former Iron Maiden members Dennis Stratton and Clive Burr and even Paul Di'Anno handling the vocals on tour, the Troy brothers Chris and Tino have seen a renewed worldwide interest in the band following rave reviews for their most recent album 'Sanctuary' which was released in 2009.
The Merton Manor Club is a cosy Working Men's Club just down the road from Wimbledon Centre Court and the fans who found out about this gig on the band's website were treated to club bar prices. £2.20 a pint and for myself a bottle of fine red wine at £8.00 and with advance tickets set at £6.00, the night was very kind to the wallet, butchered and emptied over the Christmas period.
Praying Mantis played a full two hour set without a solo in sight featuring tracks from their debut 'Time Tells No Lies' and many other tracks from their entire career, some of which have been re-recorded especially for the Japanese only on the 'Metalmorphosis' album which features new drummer Gary MacKenzie.
The gig certainly had a warm up feel to it as there was no fancy backdrop or stageshow but I don't think this venue had ever seen so many lights in action.
Singer Mike Freeland handles all the material with aplomb and the Troy brothers, along with Andy Burgess, have the very finest harmony backing vocals which are so smooth and creamy they really do belong on national radio.
'Time Slipping Away' from 'Predator In Disguise' and 'Running From Tomorrow', one of my favourites from the debut, get a rare outing live. The band were in jovial mood with Tino Troy surprised that Freeland correctly pronounced 'Metalmorphosis'. "It's normally Metal faeces", jests Tino.
'Turn The Tide (Lonely Way Home)' is a perfect slice of 'adult rock' and would be massive if written by an American band. The war themed 'Borderline' is performed live for the first time ever, which is a surprise as they originally shot a promo video for it and is one of the strongest numbers this evening.
With the encore cut short due to equipment trouble, luckily right at the end, 'Captured City' saw a lot air guitar shape throwing from the audience. Afterwards the whole band mingled and chatted with smiles all round.
It may be winter but Merton was the land of the rising sun tonight. The Japanese are in for a treat.
Children Of The Earth
Panic In The Streets
Time Slipping Away
Running For Tomorrow
Turn The Tide (Lonely Way Home)
Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark
Can't See The Angels
Flirting With Suicide
Turn The Tables
MARK INTERVIEWED THE BAND ON THE DAY OF THE GIG. CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL VIDEO INTERVIEW...