R.A.M.P. w/ support – Porto, Portugal

R.A.M.P., Equaleft, Blame Zeus
Hard Club (Sala 2), Porto (PT)
10th June 2022
Promoted by Notredame Productions

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The name R.A.M.P. may not mean much (or anything at all) to you, but ask any Portuguese metalhead about them and you’ll realize they’re quite a legend in their home country. So when they release a new album – especially since it’s been 13 (?!) years since the last one -, crisis or not, you can count with an almost sold out venue.

It wasn’t really full when Blame Zeus got on stage though. Despite being a national holiday and I’m-running-late-because-I’m-working not being a valid excuse, people have this weird tendency of skipping the opening act..

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First thing I’ve noticed was the absence of bassist Bruno Branco, and I feared that another line-up change was on the way, but no – right after the first song “How To Successfully Implode”, Sandra Oliveira explained he “just” had tested positive for COVID (yes, kids, it is still a thing) the night before, giving them no time to find a suitable replacement. So backtracks and guitarist Tiago Lascasas swapping instruments on a couple of songs did the trick.

As they didn’t have long, they went with a classy selection mostly focused on their latest work ”Seethe”. Sandra first mentioned it as “new” but admitted right away that it didn’t make sense to call it such, as it had been released in late 2019 already; it just felt like that since the pandemic didn’t allow them to promote it properly.

R.A.M.P.-Rui Duarte is featured in the studio version of “Down To Our Bones”, so I knew who and which song would follow when Sandra announced a “very special guest”. I won’t say it was the highlight of the show, as it would wrongly take away Blame Zeus’ own merit, but it was indeed special.  “Burning Fields” ended a heavy-rock-prog performance that, even as a 4-piece, they delivered distinctively.

https://www.facebook.com/BlameZeus

equaleft22When Equaleft got on stage the place was already packed. After their concert in November 2021, they were supposed to stay off the road and work on the successor to “We Defy”, but this is already their second show (and more are to follow) without any news of the 3rd full length album; I guess the “call of the live” is just too strong to these groovers, and given the response they get every time, I can say we all love them for that. Even if it’s been quite a while since they’ve played “Invigorate”, with singer Miguel Inglês commanding the mosh circles with a Star Wars lightsaber (got the hint, lads?). Now that command is done more directly, with him and bassist André Matos jumping into the crowd and moshing around with them.

From the opening “Fragments” to the closing “Strive”, going through “Human” or “We Defy”, the frenzy on and off stage was everlasting. And it went on a bit after the last chord, as everyone struggled to reach forward and get one of the cookies that Miguel gives at the end of each Equaleft show.

https://www.facebook.com/equaleft

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It was then time to get to know how “Insidiously” sounded live. Released on April 1st via Rastilho Records, it’s no fool’s treat, believe me.The show began just like the record, with “Catatonic”, but it wasn’t a played-in-full kind of presentation; they just picked the songs which would work better on stage and mixed them with classics such as “How” or “Black Tie”. Of course these were the ones who almost made Hard Club come tumbling down with our roaring-along, but most of us also sang the newest. Hell, there was a guy next to me who knew all the lyrics better than Rui Duarte himself!

There were also all kinds of dedications – songs dedicated to those who don’t “follow the herd”, songs dedicated to those who have been betrayed, songs dedicated to those who keep on giving their best… I thought it was really funny dedicating“Alone” – probably their most sentimental ballad – to their “pals in the festival Um Metaleiro Também Chora” (which is Portuguese for “metalheads cry too”, and yes, such festival does exist), but even though I can’t remember which one it was (like I said, too many dedications…), what touched me the most was the one to Nando, former singer of another legend – currently extinct – W.C. Noise, who was there enjoying the show like there was no tomorrow. What can I say? I’m a sucker for these old school bonds.

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After the very last “Try Again” (featured in a 3-song encore), Rui introduced the band, leaving guitarist and founding member Ricardo Mendonça (“a man who needs no introduction”) for last – and I swear I saw his eyes watering with grateful happiness. Rui thanked us for these 34 years of full support and that even being far apart (well, nowadays 300km isn’t really that far, but “back in the day” it was), Porto was always in their hearts. Who cares if it sounds like a cliché when we know it’s true and feel exactly the same way?

https://www.facebook.com/rampoficial

Text & photos by Renata “Pieni” Lino

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