I'm not sure what Italian symphonic metallers Kalidia thought the surroundings would be like when they signed up for their first UK tour but I'm sure The Giffard Arms, the last of their four host venues on the tour wasn't it.
A dedicated goth rock pub, it has lots of traditional British character like sticky carpets but also lots of skeletons hanging from the ceilings and a chair in the bar to rival the Iron Throne in Game Of Thrones. Exotic Italy it isn't, but it has a charm of it's own and is also hosting a mini festival in a small hall above the public bar.
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Stuck in the middle of today's line-up it's obvious that a large part of the crowd here have come to see Kalidia specifically and the biggest attendance of the day so far is gathered before the stage. Given the surroundings I was expecting a few sound problems to need working out but I was pleasantly surprised as from the start the sound was virtually perfect.
Focusing entirely on their self released debut album 'Lies' Device' the songs come to life in a live environment. Their kind of symphonic metal keeps it very melodic and the nice sound allows this to be replicated but Federico Paolini's guitar has an extra edge to it which gives everything more power.
The guitar is often the star of the show actually as his measured riffs and fluid lead lines impressed me throughout. The rhythm section of Roberto Donati on bass and mini powerhouse Dario Gozzi on drums is full of energy and not a little dexterity to keep things flowing along too.
Of course this is female fronted symphonic metal so the star quality of the singer is a major factor. Nicoletta Rosellini certainly ticks the boxes for looks and style but it was great to see her vocal performance is a plus too. She has a more restrained way of delivering a lyric than some of her contemporaries but there is plenty of power there too which sounds really good when she lets it out.
There is a natural charm there as well and in fact all of the band's infectious enthusiasm and obvious pleasure at being on stage came over really well and engaged their audience. There was the first bout of chanting and fist pumping of the day and a chorus of boos greeted the announcement they only had one song left to play.
Kalidia are a young band with a lot to learn but this performance showed they have a hell of a lot of promise and a way of connecting with their audience which bodes well for them as they mature as a band. They fully deserved the party shots I saw them downing later for having the guts to do this tour and doing it so well. I hope they come back again soon.