DragonForce: a night of pirates & video games in San Diego

DragonForce took the “Highway to Oblivion” tour to San Diego’s Observatory North Park, with support from Seven Spires and Visions of Atlantis. Seven Spires kicked off the night and played their hits “Gods of Debauchery”, “Lightbringer”, “Succumb”, closing their set with “Dare to Live”. I love when female singers like this can have very angelic voices and then turn around and do some very growly screams. 

One of my friends and I call this genre of music “Pirate Music”, because of the way it sounds. It makes me feel like I’m on a boat going into battle or something. So, I was so excited when I saw the lead singer of Visions of Atlantis, Michele Guaitoli, come out in a pirate costume! Their show was so intriguing to watch; lead singers Clémentine Delauney and Michele Guaitoli have such amazing onstage chemistry, I felt like I was watching a pirate love story. Visions of Atlantis closed out their set with their newest single “Legion Of the Seas”, when they brought out a V.O.S. flag and, even though there were some technical difficulties with it, it still was a really cool way to end their set and ‘story’.

DragonForce kicked off their set with a ‘walk out’ song — “Point of Origin”, by legendary composer Yanni.

The lights went crazy for the full five minutes, really building up the anticipation for the crowd as we waited for DragonForce to come out. DragonForce has one of the sickest sets I’ve seen in awhile! They had two giant arcade machines that played video game clips the whole show that went with the songs they were playing. I’m pretty sure I saw a Skyrim map and some Mortal Kombat stuff. They also had this giant dragon behind the drum kit that had glowing beet-red eyes. If you know me, you know I love anything to do with dragons, so that was really cool. Their whole set was very colorful and neon, and made me feel like I was in an 80s arcade. 

They kicked off their set with “Highway to Oblivion”, with guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman actually standing on top of the arcade machines! During their second song, “Fury Of the Storm”, there was some unexpected pyro that looked absolutely sick from where I was standing in the crowd, but it was hilarious to watch security and the photographers in the photo pit jump as the smoke was literally right in their faces!

Midway through the set, lead singer Marc Hudson jumped on top of one of the arcade machines and did some video game-inspired guitar solos of “Dracula’s Castle” from Castlevania Symphony of the Night and “Fight On!” from Final Fantasy VII. After that, Marc left the stage and they brought out special guests Familyjules7x, ToxicxEternity and Farmer Sam for a combined guitar and banjo (what!?) solo! We go to a metal concert and then suddenly we’re at a bluegrass show! The solo was based on Flatt and Scruggs’ “Randy Lynn Rag”: the contrast between guitar and banjo sounded so cool, like nothing I’ve been able to experience before.

Guitarist Herman Li kept us entertained throughout the whole show with his guitar tricks, even licking his guitar occasionally.

He also filmed the whole show from his shoulder cam on his Twitch channel. DragonForce finally ended their set with a cover of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”, closing with, of course, “Through the Fire and Flames”. If you’re a fan of Guitar Hero, you know “Through the Fire and Flames”… a level so extremely hard, only the most committed players can conquer. DragonForce was such a fun show and even if you’re not really a fan of this type of music, I definitely recommend going, because it’s an experience!

Photography by Heather Vandemark; recap by Kaiya Vandemark

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