It doesn’t take being Phil Collins to feel it; there’s something in the air tonight and I don’t just mean the faux-incense billowing at times from the stage. I mean that certain intangible, mustier than the smell of sweat, beer and wet T-shirts, incorporeal something that happens around that point when a band progresses from being one that people like to one that people like. And it seems that the London crowd are baying for Powerwolf.
The first thing that is striking is that the O2 Academy is filled. The second is the rabid fervour for the band of the congregation. As each song draws to a close, a chant from the pack rings out strong and true: “Powerwolf! Powerwolf! Powerwolf!” without fail. The zeal of the Zealots (sorry, couldn’t resist) is infectious, and as the set draws on it becomes a Pavlovian Evangelical reaction to each song; the febrile followers flushed with feverish devotion sharing their delight at seeing the preachers of the night.
With a main setlist drawn equally from ‘Bible Of The Beast’, ‘Preachers of the Night’ and this years’ stonking ‘Blessed and Possessed’, it matters not that the soundman is punishing guitarists Greywolf for misdemeanours unknown and has buried the brothers Grimm well behind the drums and vocals, because Attila Dorn is transfixing; spreading a sermon of werewolves and religious tongue-in-bummery, bedecked in cassock and corpsepaint, arms and vocal chords open with his ecclesiastical tones powerful and apostolic, ripe for the Powerwolf parishioners to raise their voices in communion with him as hymns to the lupine and sanguine are choired with gusto, particularly the power baroque ‘Armata Strigoi’.
As good as the core Powerwolf set is, its tail and subsequent encore raises the bar even higher, as the band close out with a rousing ‘We Drink Your Blood’ and a stomping ‘Lupus Dei’, before returning as conquerors to obliterate ‘Sanctified With Dynamite’, a crushing ‘Kreuzfeuer’ – the heavy metal anthem Rammstein never wrote – and a final unifying brothers-in-arms ‘All We Need Is Blood’.
Should you have a sense of fun intact, I defy thee to have ears and not leave the Powerwolf extravaganza without a grin on your face and a sense of pack; of community. For in the live arena, backed by their own army of immortals, the power is indeed of the wolf.
WORDS BY STEVE TOVEY