Within Temptation in Lyon, France, 28 March 2007
Report from the Transbordeur, Lyon. No pictures permitted during the show, sorry.
Have you seen Lauren Harris? I have not and I am not too unhappy about that. I arrived at the venue just as her set came to an end and it looks like a lot of people disliked this show. I personally think she is very bad. So I took my time in order to miss most of it. Besides, I don't think Within Temptation really need a support act. Obviously, a lot of people attending this show are newfound fans and plainly don't give a tiny shit about who's opening.
This was my fourth time seeing Within Temptation but also the first time since the release of The Silent Force when they really became famous out of the metal microcosm (I don't count their performance at Graspop two years ago because only metalheads go to metal festivals). So I was pretty curious to see what kind of people would be there, what the atmosphere would be like and also whether the band would have changed things in accordance with their new status. The answer to the first question is half metalheads and half other people, including families and kids. That was a big change compared to the first time I saw them in 2002 opening for Paradise Lost in a small venue (now they play at the Transbordeur in the big configuration and the show was sold out), when the audience was exclusively goths and metalheads.. The atmosphere was noisy in a "fan system" sort of way. Not really my type but still better than no atmosphere at all and at least the band received a very warm welcome.
Now about the show itself…
Oh, the bitter disappointment… Actually I can divide this one hour and forty-five minute-long show in two parts: the first, crappy one and the second one, much better and closer to what I hoped for. You see, having seen them already, I knew that I could expect a good show with outstanding lights, a powerful sound dominated by the symphonic arrangements but no surprise whatsoever as it's more or less always the same setlist and the same show. The first 45 minutes of the concert were simply painful. I almost left. Seriously. They only played songs taken from The Heart Of Everything, which I have not heard yet and thus don't have an opinion on. All I know is that those songs were very bland, very uninteresting and very boring live. I particularly disliked that song with Keith Caputo and its "What have you done" chorus (indeed, what have you done?) that sounded a lot like an Evanescence reject.
The bad setlist would have been bearable had the sound not been so poor. Oh ok, it was very clear and loud enough, all the instruments were distinguishable and stuff, but it lacked edge. I mean, this was the sound you could rightfully expect from a pop band but not in a metal show. Where was the power, the bombasticness, the emphasis? Even "Stand My Ground", usually a moving performance to witness, sounded flat. The band themselves looked bored and Sharon's voice was not as outstanding as I recalled. After those 45 minutes I started regretting the 27 euros I had mindlessly wasted on this show.
Fortunately, after these infernal 45 minutes, Within Temptation started playing "Mother Earth" and all of a sudden everything got back on track. Even the new songs sounded better. The sound became as powerful and symphonic as I wanted it to be. The band started moving and headbanging. Sharon finally found her voice. The guitars found their way. The crowd started singing and headbanging as well. For one hour it looked as if the band and their fans were as one, and songs like "Jillian" and "Deceiver Of Fools" really rocked the place. The encore started out with the now famous Kate Bush cover "Run Up That Hill" and eventually the show ended on "Ice Queen", obviously the favourite song of a lot of people, judging by how almost everyone went crazy. That second half was much definitely better. That was still nothing compared with the brilliance of their 'old' performances, but it was very enjoyable nonetheless.
So in the end, that was not a bad show, just an average one. The lights, the flames and the backdrop were all very fine, the band was extremely professional and all, but some things were wrong. This pop-ish sound definitely ruined my evening. You won't hear me cry "sellouts" and stuff as I perfectly understand , if that sound was on purpose, that the band might not want to shock their new non-metal fans with too much power. Though leaving the fanbase behind is not really a good move since they are the supportive ones when success fades away. Ah well, I'm just an old whiner, everybody seemed to have enjoyed the show. Even my non-metal girlfriend loved it for the exact same reasons that turned me off.
But for me, to be honest, it was one of the biggest disappointments of the year. Period.
Our solemn hour
Stand my ground
What have you done
The heart of everything
Hand of sorrow
All I need
The truth beneath the rose
Deceiver of fools
Running up that hill
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