- - - - - -

Xandria - August 2006 Event


Xandria - Liquid Sky - Adasteria

Camden Underworld, London


 “I can only remember glimpses but great energy… And the crowd loved it!” – Alexandra, Adastreia

“It’s bloody hot in here; wish I wasn’t wearing a corset!” is my greeting from Alexandra, Adastreia’s drop-dead gorgeous singer, moments before the band had the privilege of kicking off one of the most exciting bills I’ve seen for some time, set up by our very own Sam Grant and Charlie Farrell.

Although I was switched on to Adastreia about a year ago, this is the first time I’ve seen them, and I was very impressed indeed. I was hoping for big things, and I got ‘em in bucketloads. Adastreia are the UK’s MFV scene’s fastest-rising stars, and their five-song set showcased the reason why they’re firmly in the hot-to-trot league. The twin guitars of Del Gentilini and Dave Friend peel off hard and heavy riffs aplenty, and throw in some synchronised old-school axe moves for old-school fans like me. The rhythm section of Matt Clarke (bass) and Wes Keenan (drums) groove together as if they are linked by some kind of musical telepathy; some of these songs are pretty complicated, although choc full of subtleties, and twist and turn like a politician’s tongue, and it’s the bass-and-drums-driven backbone that keeps them on track. Upfront, Alexandra holds court and hits high note after high note, despite the rigours of both the aforementioned heat and tightly-laced corset; again, as befits the complexity of the songs, singing them can’t be easy either, as vocal lines soar ‘n’ float ‘n’ dive among the crashing chords. And amidst all this talent playing their hearts and souls out, the thing that stood out the most from this particular show was Hilary Towsey’s performance on the keyboards. Boy! Can that girl play!


This is a band fast leaping from strength to strength, with exciting new material being produced all the time. Their thirty minutes’ encompassed just two songs off their debut EP – ‘Emersi’ and ‘Aislinn’ – but introduced a brand new piece entitled ‘Tempest’. A masterclass in how to craft the perfect song, if Leaves’ Eyes’ ‘Elegy’ is the anthem of a generation, then ‘Tempest’ could be that generation’s call to arms. Adastreia are a great band, full stop. Catch them now and then you can say you were there at the beginning of a phenomenon.

Set list:


The Reach



A New Light

“That was great – but what I want is a really big stage and I’ll run around all night” – Hecate, Liquid Sky

The first time I saw Liquid Sky, several years ago now, by midway through their second song I was hooked and was convinced that here was a band destined for greatness. Unfortunately, a number of enforced personnel changes have set them back a little, but I still maintain that they are the most exciting live band in the UK. Now boasting ex-Mercury Rain guitarist Roy Chudobskyi and drummer Ant Marginson alongside guitarist and founder member Jon Craven, bassist Den Constable, keyboard player Joe Rhodes and the fireball of energy that is singer Hecate Taglietti, Liquid Sky seem to be firing on all eight once more and ready to take on the world.


With a new album finally imminent – and a gauntlet thrown down for them to get it out before my birthday in mid-October! – Liquid Sky’s set now contains little from their early, more Goth, days. Still, it was nice to hear ‘Stitches’ again, and set closer and rabble-rousing anthem ‘Titan’ with its oh-so-appropriate “stronger than ever before” chorus is a glorious slice of metal that everyone should have in their collection. Meantime, even the newer material is building up an air of familiarity, and ‘Salvation’ and ‘Armistice’ in particular are brassy ‘n’ classy, upfront and in-your-face. This is a band that demands attention, and you’d be foolish not to give them the respect they deserve.

I love the way Hecate has blossomed from nervous frontperson to kick-ass metal bombshell who covers every inch of the stage and never lets the energy levels drop for a minute: plug her into the national grid and you could power the UK for months; I love watching the dual guitars of Jon and his new six-string partner Roy, pushing riffs and solos to the max; I loved watching Den, who in the past has been a little reserved, running across the stage to trade lines with the guitars; I love watching Joe, almost lost in his own world behind his keyboards, making it all look so easy; and although it’s the first time I’ve seen Ant play with them, I loved watching him punch out the rhythm. Do I love this band? Yes I do. “Stronger than ever before?” You betcha. Still destined for greatness? Oh baby, yes.

Set list:


Love Labours Lost


Laid To Rest




“Every time we are on stage we really celebrate music but we all were a bit unsure – insecure? Damn, I'll never learn how to speak English correctly! – for we all heard horrifying stories about the very, very hard audiences of London. But when we saw that you were no monsters we were able to start the party as usual!” – Lisa, Xandria


This was obviously a big deal for Xandria; despite having three albums under their belts, tonight was their UK debut and it sounds like they were expecting something of a trial-by-fire. Instead they were greeted ecstatically by a very warm – in more ways then one – crowd, many of whom seemed to know every word of every song. The German five-piece are a powerful live force – Gerit Lamm sure does hammer those drums – and once they loosened up a bit it was apparent they were having a damn good time on stage. Guitarists Marco Heubaum and Philip Restemeier and bassist Nils Middelhauve ran around like men possessed, and vocalist Lisa Middelhauve seemed intent on trying to sing to every member of the audience in person.


The opening pair off current album ‘India’ made for hard-hitting start to the show and marked a statement of intent to the effect of ‘hang on to your hats; it’s gonna be one hell of a ride!’ In a recent interview with Sonic Cathedral, Lisa described their sound as “something in-between metal, pop, classic, rock, soundtrack, jazz and gothic. We are Xandriatic…” and with a variety of material on their three albums, theirs was a kind of a ‘something for everyone’ set (Lisa herself admitted before the gig that just to stick to one style of song would be boring). So goth rubbed shoulders with out-and-out metal, with a touch of punk and a twist of twee Blackmore’s Night-isms that kept everyone on their toes. Perhaps the best of all was Lisa’s death metal barking which took a large chunk of the crowd by surprise.

Mrs Middelhauve herself – her and husband Nils celebrated their first wedding anniversary that day by the way, trivia fans – is a lively and flirtatious singer, kicking her heels, blowing kisses and at one stage plucking a floral hairgrip from her head, turning her back to the crowd and then tossing it, bridal bouquet-wise, into the crowd. (What was funny was watching the guys leap to catch it!) She also wears her emotions on her sleeve, admitting before the show that hurtful personal comments in reviews do get to her, no matter how hard she tries to block them out, and later introducing ‘Eversleeping’ as a very personal song and wiping away tears as it drew to a close.


Adherence to an overly tight schedule and a strict 10:15 curfew meant that ‘Answer’ had to be dropped from mid-set and as time was passing it was obvious that something else had to go so ‘Ginger’ also got the heave-ho. Even then there was little messing around with the encores – a quick ‘thank you’ and then straight into Ravenheart and the up-tempo work-out ‘Black Flame’.

You can only speak as you find, and I thought Xandria were a fantastic live band, rounding off a five-star bill. The UK needs more gigs like this one.

Set List:


Now & Forever

Some Like It Cold


Black And Silver

Keep My Secret

She’s Nirvana

Kill The Sun

End Of Every Story


Fire Of Universe


Fight Me

The Lioness

Back To The River





Return To India


Black Flame