Review and Photos by Fred Kuhlman
Promoter: Live Nation
Venue: The Van Buren (https://www.thevanburenphx.com )
Date: Sunday September 3rd, 2023
Tour: Awaken The World Tour 2023
It was a Sunday night and the second night of the massive metal tour by Metallica in the valley. For this reason, I was not expecting a large crowd at tonight’s Kamelot show. However due to a last-minute illness by James Hetfield, the Metallica show was postponed by a week. Hopefully this allowed some of those fans to attend this concert. The crowd was about 1700 which is respectable for this style of concert in Phoenix but small compared to past Kamelot and Battle Beast shows.
This was the third show of the weekend I attended. On Friday night it was Metallica with 55,000 plus fans. Saturday was at a small bar that had about 300 people to see a friend’s local band. And finally on Sunday it was this show. Personally, I believe it was the best show I saw this weekend.
I wanted to cover this show because I really enjoy the music of both Kamelot and Battle Beast. I have been attending their shows since 2015. Where Battle Beast utilizes a barren stage and rely only their music talent, Kamelot utilizes a combination of wondrous stage production and their incredible musical abilities.
As a note: from the point of view of an audience member and fan, Kamelot’s performance was spectacular and the light show was outstanding. However, as you will see from the photos, this lighting made my job as a photographer harder. Red lights are the bane of photographers. The people look dark and the skin tones never really look good. But again, the band is there to amaze the audience and they did a bang-up job.
If you hear Kamelot, you would believe they are just another European Power Metal band. But in reality Kamelot is an American power metal band from Tampa, Florida, formed by guitarist Thomas Youngblood in 1987. One reason people get this impression is the lead singer, Tommy Karevik is from Sweden. The other members of the band are Sean Tibbetts on bass, drummer Alex Landenburg and keyboardist Oliver Palotai. Alex was unable to make the show. He flew home to be there for the birth of his new child. They brought in a new drummer that did an awesome job.
One of the unique things about Kamelot is that they bring a female singer each tour to balance out harmoniously with Tommy. When I first saw Kamelot in 2015 they had Kobra Paige with them. Then on the 2018 & 2019 tours, Lauren Hart joined them. This year we were lucky enough to see Melissa Bonny.
This tour is to promote and perform music from their newest album, The Awakening. They performed 4 songs from this album including “Opus of the Night (Ghost Requiem)” and “New Babylon”. The rest of the show consisted of songs from all of their albums. It was a great mix of both new and older songs.
Throughout the show, Melissa would come out on stage wearing different headdresses or masks. At one part of the show, 2 women came out and walked to either side of a giant box with a giant lit up “K” in the center back of the stage. Then Tommy came out and stood on the platform as he started to sing. He stepped off the box and moved to the front of the stage and was joined by Melissa as they sang a duet.
Thomas is generally laidback on stage providing the rhythm and harmony for the different songs and at times laying down some incredible power riffs. On the other side of the stage is the Sean the charismatic and hyper bass player. You can’t miss Sean because he is the musician with the long dreadlocks that is constantly bouncing around on the stage.
Kamelot’s US tour is over, but they will be touring in Japan the first part of November. If you get the chance to see this show, I would highly recommend it. It is both stunning and powerful. The music is fantastic and the band performs flawlessly. Tommy’s and Mellissa’s voices and interactions are truly something to behold. And the stage and lighting production is spectacular. I have seen a lot of shows this year and I can rate this performance as one of the top 5. Please, if you get the chance, see this show if for nothing else then to hear the phenomenal voices of both Tommy and Melissa.
Also, after the show, Melissa Bonny came down into the security pit and talked with, posed for photos and signed items for fans.
Kamelot Social Media links:
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/kamtv
Photos by Fred Kuhlman 2023, All Rights Reserved
Battle Beast is a Finnish heavy/power metal band established in Helsinki in 2008 by Anton Kabanen, Juuso Soinio and Pyry Vikki. The band is fronted by the dynamic singer Noora Louhimo. She is joined by drummer Pyry Vikki, Eero Sipilä on bass, rhythm guitarist Juuso Soinio, keyboardist Janne Björkroth and lead guitarist Joona Björkroth. Eero joined the band in 2008 after auditioning. Noora joined in 2012 and Joona joined in 2015.
Battle Beast calls this tour their Circus of Doom Tour. It is to promote and perform songs from their newest album, Circus of Doom that was just released last year. The majority of their setlist is from this new album. They opened the show with the title track from Circus of Doom. Noora exploded on stage as she bellowed out the lyrics. Personally, I really enjoyed Noora’s voice. It is a mix of power and harmonic richness. My favor song of their set was “Wings of Light”. This song showed the true power of the band providing guitar solos, a rich bassline and rhythms filled in by the keytar and rhythm guitar. It also showcased Noora power and range.
This is the fourth time I have seen Battle Beast and they seem to be getting better each time. I really enjoy listening to their albums, but their real power is shown at their live shows. Pyry provides the rhythmic and heart pounding and rhythmic base for all of the music. The faultless bass line is provided by Eero. Juuso and Joona provide the rhythm and power riffs that move the music to new heights. Janne uses his keytar to help round out the music. Add in the power of Noora’s voice and this band is a force to be watch and be amazed by. They don’t have a fancy stage show, just solid power metal music.
Their set was about 45 minutes and we all wanted more. It would be interesting to see Battle Beast when they can perform a longer set and possibly headline a tour. If they keep up this pace, they will have a strong following and will hopefully be able to do their own tour.
Battle Beast Social Media links:
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/BattleBeastBand
Photos by Fred Kuhlman 2023, All Rights Reserved
Xandria is a German symphonic metal band founded by Marco Heubaum in 1994. Originally a project, Heubaum later restarted the project as a band in 1999. The band has had multiple members and singers over the years and in 2022 the entire band, except for founder Marco Heubaum, was replaced. The current band consists of founding member and rhythm guitarist Marco Heubaum, lead singer Ambre Vourvahis, lead guitarist Rob Klawonn, Tim Schwarz on bass and drummer Dimitrios Gatsios,
With this new lineup they release a few new singles in 2022, “Reborn” and “You Will Never Be Our God”. Later in 2022 they released their 8th studio album, The Wonders Still Awaiting that included these two songs. This tour is being used to present their new album. They performed those songs and “Ghost” from the new album. Since they were only afforded a 30-minute set (Being low band on the tour) it limited them to only 5 songs. Still, it was an spectacular start to a truly fantastic evening of music.
Usually, the third band on a US tour is there to get exposure. I am a follower of Symphonic Metal bands from Europe and somehow, I missed Xandria. I usually don’t expect a lot from the starting band, but I was greatly impressed by Xandria. The band was extremely tight and the music was powerful. Ambre seems to be a great fit as the new singer. Her voice is very melodic and mesmerizing. When she sang “You Will Never Be Our God” her true power was on display. The one thing I really like about Symphonic Metal music is that the bands are required to be very good because they are not just yelling at you. I now consider Xandria one of those bands along with Nightwish, Delain and Visions of Atlantis that I will be following. Please check them out and I believe you will also become a follower.
After the concert, Ambre came out to the merc table area and posed for photos and would sing their newest album/CD. She was very gracious even with all of the sweety men there. If this line up can remain together, I can see great things for this band. Xandria is a band to look at and see if you can.
Xandria will be touring Europe and the UK in November. You can find out if they will be visiting a city near you by checking out their website. You can check out their music on all of the streaming channels.
Xandria Social Medi Links:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/xandriaofficial/
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/OfficialXandria
Photos by Fred Kuhlman 2023, All Rights Reserved
Kamelot Setlist: (Album)
Veil of Elysium (Haven)
Rule the World (Ghost Opera)
Opus of the Night (Ghost Requiem) (The Awakening)
When the Lights Are Down (The Black Halo)
Vespertine (My Crimson Bride) (The Shadow Theory)
New Babylon (The Awakening)
Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife) (Silverhorn)
Song for Jolee (Silverhorn)
NightSky (The Awakening)
March of Mephisto (The Black Halo)
Phantom Divine (Shadow Empire) (The Shadow Theory)
One More Flag in the Ground (The Awakening)
Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy) (Haven)
Battle Beast Setlist (Album)
Circus of Doom (Circus of Doom)
Straight to the Heart (Bringer of Pain)
Eye of the Storm (Circus of Doom)
Where Angels Fear to Fly (Circus of Doom)
Wings of Light (Circus of Doom)
Master of Illusion (Circus of Doom)
King for a Day (Bringer of Pain)
Eden (No More Hollywood Endings)
Xandria Setlist (Album)
You Will Never Be Our God (The Wonders Still Awaiting)
Reborn (The Wonders Still Awaiting)
Ghosts (The Wonders Still Awaiting)
Valentine (Neverworld’s End)