The roots of Praying Mantis go back to the early ’70s when the Troy brothers, Tino and Chris, put the band together but it was the burgeoning NWOBHM movement that saw them come to prominence with their first recordings and some high calibre tour slots. They have had a most interesting career since those early days and have released some truly exceptional rock albums and there has been many a musician that has come and gone in their 45-plus years. There have also been a couple of extended periods of inactivity with the latest ending in 2009 which has led to the release of three great albums in Sanctuary, Legacy and 2018’s Gravity.
This new live album brings the band up to date with a line-up of John Cuijpers on lead vocals, the twin attack of Andy Burgess and Tino Troy on guitar/vocals, Chris Troy on bass/vocals and the wonderfully named Hans in ‘t Zand on drums/vocals and this team has been together for several years now and have developed a real rapport between them. This live CD/DVD is another of those quite wonderful packages put out by Frontiers Music and was recorded at Frontiers Rock Festival V in Milan on 28th April 2018 shortly before the release of their then new album Gravity. As expected, there are a couple of tracks from Gravity in Keep It Alive and Mantis Anthem with 2015’s Legacy album supplying Believable and Fight For Your Honour. The comeback album, Sanctuary of 2009, is represented by Highway so half of the 60 minute set is made up of relatively new material but they also pay homage to their illustrious, if somewhat sporadic, past with their first single, Captured City, starting the album and then their debut album, Time Tells No Lies contributes Panic In The Streets and Children Of The Earth. This leaves just Dream On from A Cry For The New World and Time Slipping Away from Predator In Disguise to complete the all too short set. The audience revel in the proceedings and even contribute a perfect rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ for Tino Troy as the band and audience seem to feed off each other.
Praying Mantis was always more of an AOR/melodic rock band than NWOBHM and this has become increasing more so with the passing of the years and their last couple of albums have been quite exceptional. They cut it well on the stage too and they play with a power and vitality of bands half their age. The way that Andy Burgess and Tino Troy combine on guitar is perfection and John Cuijpers is a valuable addition to the team with his drive and range. The DVD is a beautiful bonus and is, again, perfectly shot with a great sound (available as stereo or 5.1) so enjoyment is guaranteed. The band play with a smile on the faces and a passion in their hearts, praise should be given to the Troy brothers for keeping Praying Mantis going and now is the time for us all to truly relish this great band.