I've been to a couple of gig recently and have been slacking at reporting back from them. The Friday before last (3rd February) I saw Epica and the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London. Support came from Powerwolf and Beyond the Black, although Powerwolf were actually co-headlining with Epica. Overall it was a great show, one of those rare ones where every band hits the spot and goes down really well with the crowd. Too many times have I seen dull support bands out of place and not making an impression. I started listening to Beyond the Black after Spotify recommended them shortly before the concert and initially I didn't realize that they'd be supporting Epica. I'm delighted I started listening to them and really enjoyed their set, despite it being a short one. (Having a pretty singer helps too... ) Powerwolf aren't really my cup of tea but they put on a great show and a lot of people were mainly there to see them instead of Epica so they went down a storm. Epica ended the night perfectly. I'm sometimes worried about how this kind of music will work live (especially after having been on my feet for four hours straight) as it's a stand-and-watch sort of event rather than a "beat the crap out of everyone and barge to the front" event. However, as long as the music can hold my attention everything is fine. It was a spectacular show with Simone Simons' gorgeous voice and Coen Janssen's bizarre curved keyboard leaving a lasting impression. They had some great moments like getting everyone to turn on the torch (flashlight) on their phones for one of the slow songs (my phone battery had died ) and a very odd moment at the end when when they asked for a Wall of Death. Was I at a Lamb of God show or something? One of the best concerts I've ever been to and hopefully I'll get the chance to see Epica and Beyond the Black again sometime soon - and hopefully I'll know their music better by then! Last night I saw Anthrax at the Kentish Town Forum, which funnily enough is also in London. It was the first time I'd seen them at one of their own shows after having only seen them at one festival before (four times in three years). Before Anthrax I had the chore of seeing The Raven Age for the fourth time. They're not a particularly bad band but they're exceptionally dull - dependably so. I've previously seen them in a small venue, a tiny venue and a massive venue, and their enjoyability is inversely proportional to the size of the venue. The Raven Age are not worthy of supporting Anthrax, that slot should go to a heavier band who Anthrax's fans are more likely to enjoy. A lot of what they do seems forced, and while Simone Simons asking the crowd to wave their phones around was spectacular, it was awkward and mostly ignored when the guy from The Raven Age asked the (sparse) crowd to do it. Fingers crossed I won't have to see them again. Anthrax were fantastic though. They actually played two sets! The first one was a mix of classics and newer songs and then the second was the entirety of 'Among the Living'. This was the setlist: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/anthrax/2017/o2-forum-kentish-town-london-england-7bf87a30.html. Joey Belladonna is good fun to watch on stage. He doesn't take his position as a Metal frontman too seriously like others do, and was even serving cups of Monster energy drink (who I think sponsor Anthrax) during one of the solos. To cap things at the end I managed to get two guitar picks, one of which I gave to my friend. This now means I have about ten plectra despite not owning a guitar. Perhaps I should learn to play? One massive source of frustration from last night was that it took the venue far too long to start letting people in. Doors were due to open at 7pm (standard opening time) but that didn't happen until at least 7:20, so hundreds of people were queuing longer than necessary in near-freezing temperatures. This mean that The Raven Age started nearly ten minutes later than scheduled and for their first few songs there was only a couple of rows of people at the front. Despite the fact that they sucked I did feel sorry for them as support bands will want to get their music out to as many people as possible and it must suck to perform to an empty venue. The whole night was delayed too and we didn't get out of the venue until 11:10, which is ten minutes past the curfew. This was particularly annoying for me as I wanted to get the 11:30 train back to Reading which is usually touch-and-go at the best of times. There was no chance of me doing that last night and I only made the slower 11:42 train by the skin of my teeth after running from Paddington Underground station up to the door of the train. I will be sending a strongly worded email to the Kentish Town Forum about this. To make matters worse, it's the second time in a week an O2-owned venue I've been to has opened later than advertised. Doors opened for the Epica concert in Shepherd's Bush late too, and I think the O2 Academy in Brixton may also have opened slightly late.