The Gods 2000 and Warm Up Dates
Last Modified On 21 Mar 2009
As usual here are my personal observations on the gigs. I would like to include Your views to so please send them to me.
Praying Mantis - 31 October 2000 - The Cartoon, Croydon
With the English transport system in a complete mess it was great to leave reality and watch Mantis playing again.
Well a form of Mantis, sadly Tino didn't make the gig tonight in his place was Fester Munster. Strangely he plays rather like Tino and had Tino's distinctive laugh.
Tony O'Hora had also had a tough time getting to the gig. He was due in London for a practice session on Monday but the worst storms in 13 years meant there were no trains. He left at 8.30 today for a 3.5hr (Probably an over estimate) journey and because of speed restrictions put in place because of a train crash about 10 day before he didn't arrive in London until 3.30.
Four Japanese fans showed remarkable dedication by turning up for the gigs. They too had been delayed a day by the bad weather. So much for one of them commenting, "I hope it is warm".
The soundman Laurie did an exceptional job of getting everything clear. I have to say it was way to loud for me though. I am sound sensitive due to illness but don't usually need to go to earplugs. Tonight in the warm-up I almost felt sick due to the volume so they had to go in for the main set. I still felt the volume going through me though. Most unusual.
We got all the songs that were played in the Wacken warm ups plus two songs from Nowhere To Hide. These came over well. I was very impressed how like the album they were.
I notice that in "I Can't Stop The Fire" Chris gets a nice complex bit to play, which is nice to hear. It could easily be extended to give him a bit of a solo. I don't recall spotting this section before. I will have to listen out for it on the album. I also noticed Chris plays quite complex Bass lines in Turn The Tables. Perhaps it was just the clear mix and loss of treble due to earplugs helping me hear things differently tonight
Rise Up Again lost the We Will Rock you section and had a scratchy sort of guitar rhythm instead. I liked that but if time permits I hope they will add "We Will Rock You" back in at the Gods festival just to grab peoples attention if the band are completely new to them. I think that followed by Turn The Tables would make sure they leave the crowd with a bang and wanting more.
The Remaining Photos are all from The Gods.
Tonight's set followed the Gods set list but then the lads tagged on the remaining songs. With luck they will have time to play these when they support Glen Hughes at the Astoria 2 and have an hours slot. The longest they will have had all year. It's such a shame there hasn't been a Japanese tour or anywhere else for that matter where they can play a full set. It would be nice to see what they would include now.
The crowd seemed to really enjoy the set and a chap who had come down from Leeds was pleased with the night.
A Cry For The New World
Praying Mantis - Dean Swift - 2 November 2000
Well they were Brilliant tonight. I really enjoyed the sets. I seem to recall this at the 2nd gig of the last set of Warm up's.
The Dean Swift of course is Dennis's local pub so the band always gets a capacity crowd and excellent response. If only all gigs could get such crowds. Surely if this group of people enjoy this style of music then there must be the potential for a rock scene in the UK still. It is frustrating to me that the music I like just doesn't get any coverage in the mainstream media and therefore people don't know what they are missing. I was talking to the dad of Ben Main (the support at the Cartoon) and he was telling me Ben's classmates had never seen a band perform live and that the local youth club won't allow him to play because the music is too loud. It is a sad state of affairs.
Anyway tonight it was just Mantis and a packed crowd. Early on they ran through the two new numbers as a sound check and they sounded great. I must admit I was worried there wouldn't be the usual crowd at 9pm but around 9:30pm when the first of the 2 sets started the place was packed. This was a straight run through the Wigan set and to me it sounded the best I had heard them. Chris said it was very hard on his voice since there were no monitors and he couldn't hear his voice but I couldn't tell the extra hassle the band were having hearing themselves.
I guess the 2nd set started around 10.30. They decided to add in the extra songs at the start. So we got Lovers To The Grave and Can't See The Angels before another run through of the set again. This time Tony was even throwing in a few "Hello Wigan's". The crowd were even more up for it on the 2nd set. The first time through there was no middle extension at all during Rise Up Again the 2nd time they added in "We Will Rock You". I would like to see again who took the decision and how it was communicated. I have a feeling it was Tino that moved it on straight away first time but I don't really know. I love watching this type of spontaneity.
The band really enjoying playing here as a warm up venue and I am sure they will be back for more some time soon.
Praying Mantis - The Gods Festival Maximes, Wigan - November 4th, 2000
I was asked to write this review for Powerplay Magazine when visiting the Powerplay stall before the Mantis set. I said I thought I would be too biased but I will try not to be.
This was the first British performance by Praying Mantis to a large crowd for over a decade and the first time they had played in Britain outside London since probably 1982.
Having a 20-minute turn round time between bands was a big worry for the band. With Twin Harmony guitars and four way vocal harmonies playing without a sound check was a big risk for them. I was positioned between the stage and the speakers so I can't comment on the house sound but the mix sounded good if a little raw to me.
The main thing about a Mantis performance is the energy and showmanship the band put in. When they go on stage they go on to have fun playing great music. I have heard a boot of the band playing Newcastle in 1981 and someone is heard to comment on it that they are a bit static. That is certainly not the case now. Dennis Stratton and in particular Tino Troy both on Lead guitar run around the stage at every moment they have away from the Microphones.
The crowd seemed very lethargic to me. I am not sure how the previous bands had gone down but compared to the response Mantis were getting at Wacken I was very disappointed by the feedback. Yet watching crowd responses for at least 3 bands afterwards my impression was that Mantis had had the best reaction. Being my first Gods I don't know if this was normal or if it was just too early in the day for most people.
Because of tight time restrictions the band weren't supposed to doing much talking between songs but the band soon forgot this with Dennis Stratton delay the start of the third song saying "Hold on, are you having a good time or what?" This was followed by vocalist Tony O'Hora challenging the audience to drinking contest, them against the band. In fact each song thereafter the band spent time working the audience.
With only 40 minutes to play with Mantis could only fit in 7 songs. The band premiered "Nowhere To Hide" and "I Can't Stop The Fire" from the new album "Nowhere To Hide". For the old time fans they included "Children Of The Earth" from 1980's "Time Tells No Lies". "Rise up again" was adapated during a the sing-a-long section to included the chorus from Queen's "We Will Rock You". Also in the set were "Lettin' Go", "Turn The Tables" and my personal favourite of the night "Best Years" from "Forever In Time".
There can be no doubt the band when they left the stage they had enjoyed themselves and woken up the crowd a bit. I too had absolutely loved seeing them on a stage with a full light show and Dry Ice.
I sampled a few people opinions after the show and they seemed to be along the lines that the house sound could have been better but it as a great show all the same.
More Pictures from this set of dates are here.
Press opinions can be found here
Praying Mantis - Dean Swift - Nov 21 2000
After having Fester Munster step in for Tino at the Cartoon on Halloween it was time for another line-up change tonight. This time is was Tony O'Hora that couldn't make it. In his place was Shawn O'Hora who is remarkably similar in voice and looks but has about 14 inches less of hair.
Apparently Tony wanted it all shorn off put he decided to go half way for now.
So it was back to the Dean Swift for another warm up gig and they really were hot tonight. I thoroughly enjoyed both sets. The gig was put in at the last minute so not too many people knew about it.
The pub therefore had a good size crowd but also gave the band a bit more room to break out of their tight little corners and have fun. And fun they had especially in the 2nd set.
Actually at the start of that Chris almost had Tino's eye out with the end of his bass. For some reason they had only got one microphone between them so although they were having to face each other to sing. It didn't take long for Tino to give Chris a joke kiss. I thought it had looked a likely move sometime. Also I believe Tino was missing a foot pedal so he was having to up his guitar for solos on the Amp. I wouldn't be surprised if it was these unusual conditions that prompted Tino to be in such an out going mood tonight. And once someone starts enjoying themselves it inevitably rubs off on the other members of the band. Tino was also practicing the art of leaning backwards over the barriers while playing.
The good thing about playing the Swift so much this years is the Crowd are really starting to get familiar with the songs and often sing-a-long. During the 2nd set Tony was making the most of this and getting individuals to sing into the mic.
Turn The Tables at the end was quite amusing as Tony's mic stopped working again and he then had to share the Mic with Tino and Chris. It still sounded pretty good though. I suspect the mic was rebelling against Tony's Mic stand, down his trousers!
The night ended with Lovers To The Grave, which is probably my favourite live track. I love the slow start, which then goes into the fast second section. Tino wasn't too up for this claiming it was too slow. I am glad they did it and wish it were in the set tomorrow. Tony clearly enjoys watching them doing it, as it is nearly always his idea that they do it.
The 2nd Set was
Nowhere To Hide
Praying Mantis - London Astoria 2 - 22 Nov 00
Tonight I was actually worried how Mantis would go down. I arrived very early into order to see the sound check etc. It's a long while since I have seen Mantis in a proper venue with time for a sound check. The last time was probably in Japan in 98 in fact.
Time was a little short by the time Glenn Hughes had had his check and the gear was set up. I had never really heard anything by Hughes solo and his sound check was very tight and he was running through a few things with his guitarist and drummer (he is only a trio this date). I wondered if he would outclass Mantis.
Anyway Mantis normally run through each instrument getting the sound and then try a couple of numbers. They didn't have time for full numbers so they just choose suitable segments such as the a cappella section of Rise Up Again. I sat in the floor in front of the mixing desk and I was very impressed with the overall sound. Tonight was going to be good.
Last night was the first Mantis gig I had been to that no one from Japan had attended since the first warm up at Epsom for the 98 tour. Tonight that was corrected as Ko made it over. The Dean Swift had been a last minute addition and he couldn't get his schedule changed in time.
Space on the stage was rather tight so there was no room for running around and posing etc which in my view is a shame. Tino of course was still bouncing around on the spot etc but visually things were more interesting at The Gods.
The Sound however was ten times better. I was on the upper level at the back so I had a perfect place to hear the performance. I have seen several gigs at the Astoria now and I have to say they always get an excellent sound. It really was clear tonight though. So clear that the only things I noticed mistake wise were the sound people turning up solos late. A Severally delayed Echo on Tony's voice from time to time and Tino's guitar being treated as a solo when it was supposed to be dual harmonies with Dennis. These are the sort of things I wouldn't normally notice at a gig what with everything bouncing of the walls and just getting lost in the overall noise.
Again visually I was slightly disappointed when I saw Angel Witch support Samson and Lyadrive support the Groundhogs Dry Ice and full lighting was given to every one. Today Mantis only had the main spots and no dry Ice. (They then over did the Ice during Glenn Hughes)
At the start there was a call for Captured City so clearly one fan from the old days was there. I am sure most hadn't heard Mantis before though so it was interesting to see what the reaction was. To start with it was stationary watching with pretty good applause at the end. As the set proceed there was some audience participation and the applause was very good. In fact at then end they wanted encore. They couldn't have one though.
I think I will make special mention of Leon Lawson on keyboards at this point. It was through him that Mantis got this support slot and I know the day put him under tremendous pressure as a result. I hope he can look back on it and enjoy the pleasure of it's success all round despite the difficult circumstances. Well done old man!
A Cry For The New World