Firewind/Ozzy Osbourne guitarist gives his solo album the live treatment in Nottingham

Gus G. is a talented fella.  Not only is he the lead guitarist with Greek Power Metal legends Firewind, he is also the guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, lest we forget.  A busy man then, but not too busy that he couldn’t release his debut solo album I Am The Fire to critical acclaim last year.  February and March of this year sees him take his album on the road around Europe.

The Rescue Rooms in Nottingham has played host to many great artists and bands over the years, it’s also where Death Metal icons Deicide filmed a live dvd over ten years ago and it’s where Gus has started the tour, albeit not deliberately after the original tour opener in Cambridge was cancelled.

Anticipation is high amongst the gathering and judging by the 30 minute soundcheck, witnessed by yours truly, they have every reason to excited.  However, before the fans get what they came for they first get treated to two support bands high on energy, enthusiasm and no shortage of talent.

Scunthorpe’s Skarlett Riot hit the stage to a healthy crowd considering the 7pm start time.  There are a plethora of female-fronted rock bands at the present, which is good considering the fairly negative treatment bands have received in the past, and some of them are good, some bad and some just plain indifferent.  Fortunately SR are very much is the good category, soon to be rising to the very good, then excellent and so on and so forth.

The reason for their probable rise is quite simple, it’s the music.  Tracks like “Adrenaline” and “Wake Up” go down a storm and as the crowd increases so does the intensity. Vocalist Skarlett appears to have been studying the masters as her powerful performance is matched by her sassy stage presence. Also her guitar skills make an appearance is the anthemic “Are You Alive?”

With a new EP to promote they waste no time is gaining new fans eager to purchase it.  Certainly a band to keep an eye on.

In fair Verona, is where Arthemis most likely laid waste to their scene. Their fiery brand of melodic power thrash is well suited to the supporters of classic/modern hard rock of Gus G.

It takes them approximately 15 seconds to win the crowd, a crowd by now that has added another third in number. However, It’s one thing grabbing the attention though but another thing entirely in keeping it. Fortunately Arthemis have plenty of history and know-how and also tracks like the full throttle “We Fight”  would win win over even the most metallic of euro-sceptics.   They may be from Verona but Flying Donkeys* they ain’t.  (*Flying Donkeys or Mussi Volanti to give them their proper Italian translation is the nickname of Serie A side Chievo Verona of which some, or all, or none of the band may support!!)

The opening strains of “My Will Be Done” hail the beginning of the tour and things could not have kicked off in a more glorious fashion.  Gus selected vocalist Henning “German Tank” Basse to fill the shoes of Mats Leven left in the studio.  His choice is perfect as Henning proves from the off that he is more than comfortable with anything in the guitarist back catalogue.

The track itself is a modern classic of a track that gets better with every listen but it’s especially powerful live.  The driving rhythms belies the fact that there are only three instruments in use.  Henning’s voice is a weapon not an instrument.

As you would hope the solo album gets plenty of airtime tonight as tracks like “Eyes Wide Open”, “Blame It On Me” and “Redemption”
All of the tracks take on extra dimensions in the live environment and all weaved together by the magic of Gus’ guitar work which never drops below the awe-inspiring level.

Fans of Gus’ former band Dream Evil are treated early on to a pulverising performance of……………..on second thoughts let’s not spoil it for those who will be attending the shows on the tour.  let’s keep one surprise at least!!

Firewind fans also have much reason to rejoice as the sublime “World On Fire” gets a rousing reception.   Gus is not one to let down the guitar geeks either as he rips and shreds his way through a stunning guitar solo and composition that eventually  gives way to the shape-shifting “Redemption”.  Skarlett Riot‘s Skarlett re-appears to join the band for a version of “Long Way Down” that temporarily changes the tempo but keeps the energy high.

Set closer “I Am The Fire” confirms what one suspected from the album that is simply one of the best rock songs released in the last few years. It slays and the bluesy guitar solo breakdown from Gus keeps the flame alive long enough for a Henning led chorus chant before the flame renews brighter than ever.  A red hot cover of the Ozzy’s classic “Crazy Train” as an encore proved why one of Birmingham’s finest was right to seek out Gus to become his guitarist.

To conclude all you rockers and metalheads out there.  Read this and read it well.  This tour has only just begun which means you can get yourself down to one of the forthcoming gigs and take part in what is sure to be one of the best live shows you will witness this year.  See for yourself how bright the fire burns in Gus G.

Oh and by the way.  Maximum Volume had the pleasure of spending a few minutes in Gus G’s company and the interview article will be out very soon so keep a look out for it.