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Fates Warning: London Camden Underworld

23rd June 2017

andy rawll
Words and Pictures: Andy Rawll

fates warning

From light to flight, following absence of almost ten years since their last London show, prog Metal progenitors Fates Warning proved that they're still masters of their craft at a packed Underworld.

Cited by alpha males of the genre, like Dream Theater, as a significant influence, the band continues to hit creative peaks with 2013s 'Darkness In A Different Light' and last year's 'Theories Of Flight' both masterful examples of composition, arrangement and performance.

Indeed, their return to London, as part of a short European tour that culminated in a much-lauded performance at Sweden Rocks, was long overdue. Best of all, bandmates for thirty years, vocalist Ray Adler and founding guitarist Jim Mattheos, remain the melodic and sonic lynchpins of the band, with neither having lost their zest, creativity or technical finesse.

fates warning

Some will have been disappointed that focus of tonight's set represented more of what I would call the thinking man, rather than the drinking man's version of the band. The frantic Power Metal and stratospheric vocals of still celebrated early opus 'Awaken The Guardian' evolved into more cerebral and progressive style, with its apotheosis in 1997 with 'A Pleasant Shade Of Gray'. Yet for many, it's 1991s 'Parallels' that most successfully bridged the two eras and provided the band with commercial success and critical acclaim, ironically riding on the coat-tails of bands they had originally influenced, like Queensrÿche.

And so it was that tonight's show saw the majority of the set drawn from the triumphant triumvirate of 'Parallels', 'Shades...' and 'Theory...', perfectly encapsulating the band and its progressive passage to its fine present day incarnation. The song choice was exemplary, with new song 'The Light And Shade Of Things' perfectly complementing the three (of twelve, not fifty) shades of gray that acquired a technicolour aura in the hands of the superb band including Burton-esque bassist Joey Vera, dazzling Bobby Jarzombek on drums.

There was a stunning consistency between songs new and old with 'SOS' and 'Seven Stars' from the new album harking back to the parallelogram sound of 'Point of View' with Ray Adler demonstrating undiminished range and authority in his powerful, yet soulful delivery.

fates warning

'One' was the sole selection from the brooding melodrama that was 'Disconnected', with its intense opening riff, like 'Breadfan' on speed, capped by Adler's peerless vocals. By now the vibe in the room was immense and evoked air-punching euphoria in the crowd on the call and response of "I'll take a part of you... You take a part of me". And that was only the third song.

Although keyboards do feature on a number of Fates' albums, most notably the superb contributions from Kevin Moore, they serve to provide subtle colour and texture to the arrangements, rather than as a lead instrument. Keyboards are rarely, if ever employed during their live shows, due to the ability of Jim and his six-string cohorts (formerly the great Frank Aresti and currently Michael Abdow) to create widescreen soundscapes on guitar alone, mixing virtuoso solo passages, sumptuous arpeggios and teak-hard riffs when the occasion demands, 'Eleventh Hour' being a perfect example.

fates warning

With a looming curfew, it was fitting that the encore would be 'Monument' from the 1994s 'Inside Out' whose title may well have inspired Thomas Waber to name the record label he founded in 1996. As the fates would have it, the band was contracted elsewhere, so he had to wait twenty-five years to finally sign them. It has been well worth the wait as the label has already overseen the release of a pair of fine albums and a resurgence in the recognition of their legacy as a band, but also their vitality as an inspirational force in the prog Metal scene.

Tonight's show proved that as a live band they are unparalleled. If only they would visit these shores more frequently and extensively, they can surely step-up to larger venues in the same way as labelmates Pain Of Salvation and Riverside.


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From The Rooftops
Life In Still Water
A Pleasant Shade Of Gray, Part III
Seven Stars
A Handful Of Doubt
The Light And Shade Of Things
A Pleasant Shade Of Gray, Part IX
A Pleasant Shade Of Gray, Part XI
The Ivory Gate of Dreams: VII. Acquiescence
The Eleventh Hour
Point Of View


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