Helstar - LIVE: The Purple Turtle 2011

Summer of Hate Tour
London - August 29
Capacity 325
Photo gallery | Tour poster

As reiterated more than once throughout the show by vocalist James Rivera, this August bank holiday show marked Helstar's first ever visit to the UK in their 27-year history.

It has long been the case that you can't run a London concert venue and not adhere to the restrictions inherent in doing so, and the primary one of these is one of time. London runs on the public transport system. Perhaps more so than any other major European city. And as such, finishing concerts on time so that ticket holders are able to get home before the transport system shuts down for the night is essential. This goes double on a Sunday or holiday, making The Purple Turtle's willingness to let the show run until around 23:40, when the traditional finishing time for a Sunday or holiday is 22:30, all the more unacceptable.

The venue were compensating for the late arrival of Helstar into the UK due to travel delays, and on a regular week night or Saturday that would have worked out fine, but not on a holiday. The better solution would have been to shorten everyone's set a little. Helstar had a 90-minute set planned, and it's unlikely anyone would have complained (or even known the difference) if this had been cut to 75. Shorten Atomkraft and Deceptor as well, who very few people really cared about anyway, then the problem would have been solved. As it was, an extra one was created. People had to leave early. And that's without the ones who couldn't even come in the first place because of the traditional travel chaos caused by English holidays.

Helstar were further delayed on stage due in no small part to drummer Mikey Lewis's insistence that they couldn't possibly do without the problematic laptop responsible for the band's intro tape, which turned out to be the victim of a faulty audio cable. Someone should have told him no-one really cares about intro tapes. But in the end what will have made leaving early twice as disappointing for those affected was just how good Helstar were.

Making sure they prepared a setlist containing as many fan-favourite classics alongside (five) songs from latest album Glory of Chaos as possible, given their absence from the UK for their whole career so far, they were never going to fail to please the fans who turned out for the show. Many had never seen Helstar before and although the crowd was small, it was nothing but enthusiastic.

The band responded. With near-perfect sound, they tried hard to overcome the tight confines of the venue and stage, Rivera moving around as much as he could manage between guitarists Larry Barragan and Rob Trevino and cheerful stand-in bassist Matej Susnik. The whole band's playing was superb and their riffs sound fresher and sharper than they ever have before. The energy in the band seems to be at a real high and they visibly enjoyed every minute of this show.

Hopefully, as Rivera intimated, they will come back soon, and play a more responsible venue, perhaps as part of Killfest 2012 or a similarly applicable tour. Their arrival in London was certainly long overdue, and a spot on a larger bill would be just the right move to ensure they can come back and be exposed to some potential new fans. They earned it with this performance.

“ tried hard to overcome the tight confines of the venue ”

Setlist: Angels Fall To Hell / Pandemonium / The Plague Called Man / Conquest / Bitter End / Summer of Hate / Evil Reign / Burning Star / Monarch of Bloodshed / Dracula's Castle / Angel of Death / The King Is Dead / Baptized In Blood / Alma Negra // The King of Hell / Run With The Pack

Photo(s): Andy Lye

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2011, Gigs, Thrash Metal,

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