Threshold - LIVE: The Garage, London 2009

Essence of Progression Tour
November 8
Capacity 600

Perhaps inspired by Dream Theater's Progressive Nation venture, Threshold put together the Essence of Progression touring package for a short, and final tour before recording a new album with Damian Wilson on vocals, the first since 1997.

The touring package included Austrian progressive/power metal band Serenity, with sensational vocalist Georg Neuhauser, and French progressive outfit Spheric Universe Experience. Presumably due to the cost of coming to the UK, especially for just one show, Spheric Universe Experience didn't play the London show, and were replaced by homegrown band Pythia.

Wilson left the band - for a second time - after 1997's Extinct Instinct album and was replaced by Andrew McDermott. McDermott walked out days before tour rehearsals for the Live Reckoning Tour, in support of the Dead Reckoning album, in 2007 and Wilson rejoined, initially just to see out the band's live commitments. Wilson stayed on and, after this tour, will be recording the vocals for the band's next album.

Threshold promised a set of songs rarely or never played live, and maybe they spoiled the surprise a little by announcing most of them before the tour started, but those who have seen very McDermott-era heavy sets with Wilson on vocals so far were nevertheless pleased to hear him singing songs like Part of The Chaos and Consume To Live again. Apart from those, most of the set came from the albums fronted by McDermott, and in some cases it's interesting to hear just how well Wilson's voice fits the songs, but the absence of more songs from the older albums is glaring.

As always, the band performed flawlessly, with Soliloquy and new Power Quest front-man Pete Morton looking a lot more confident on guitar than he did on his first tour in the band. Setlist centre pieces Smile At The Moon, the mellow unreleased song from their new singles box set Paradox, 18-minute epic Critical Mass, and wildly popular Pilot In The Sky of Dreams from Dead Reckoning were all well received, but the inclusion of tracks like Avalon, One Degree Down, The Art of Reason (Threshold's finest track, says Wilson) and the return of Long Way Home all produced equally enthusiastic responses.

The bands regular setlist for this tour was always going to be too long for a Sunday night in London (where curfews are generally at least fifteen minutes, often half an hour, earlier than other nights), so songs would need to be dropped. Cutting Stop Dead was a good move, but not enough and unfortunately they had chosen not to cut anything else, and when they inevitably ran out of time it looked like the planned encore of Mission Profile and Paradox would have to be missed. The venue allowed them to play one more song, going over curfew, and they chose Mission Profile, highlighting the absence of Wilson-era songs again. Another old song not heard for a long time should have taken precedence over another McDermott song - particularly one that is so similar in construction to Slipstream, played just before - that was played on the last tour.

Threshold are a consistently outstanding live band, and Wilson continues to prove he is one of the best vocalists in metal, if not The Best. Their style of progressive music which retains the basics of traditional metal (big, heavy riffs and immediately appealing vocal melodies) make them an eminently accessible live act, and with Wilson's stellar vocals and Karl Groom's breathtaking fluidity on guitar there's something there for almost all metal fans, including technical progressive lovers who usually eye-rollingly complain Threshold's songs are too short to be really progressive.

“ absence of more songs from the older albums is glaring ”

Setlist: Consume To Live / Fighting For Breath / Part of The Chaos / Avalon / One Degree Down / Critical Mass (Parts 1-3) / Smile At The Moon / The Art of Reason / Long Way Home / Pilot In The Sky of Dreams / Slipstream / Mission Profile

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2009, Gigs, Progressive,

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