Epica - Aschaffenburg, Germany, 9th October 2010
|Event:||Epica: Design Your Universe Tour Pt. II|
Epica: Design Your Universe Tour Pt. II - Aschaffenburg, Germany, 9 October 2010 by Promonex (69)
Only three nights to go before Epica, one of the greatest symphonic metal bands of our time, will tour North America in support of their latest masterpiece Design Your Universe. Suffice it to say that the band is quite thrilled already, annoying every non-American fan on Facebook with daily posts about how much they are looking forward to hitting the new world for the second time this year. At least these Dutchies leave Europe in style after having satisfied the fans on this side of the pond with an extensive tour and with perfectly fitting support acts which made any fan of female vocals in metal (and females in general...) drooling all over their tickets.
I was fortunate enough to get one for their sold-out show in Germany's Aschaffenburg, a town close to Frankfurt and home to my favourite concert location, the Colos-Saal. This is the place where I experienced some of my greatest gigs, courtesy of the brilliant sound in the venue and the very friendly atmosphere within the crowd. So with Epica, ReVamp and Kells on the schedule this was sure to become a brilliant night.
The After Forever successors ReVamp were the openers of this night. And let me tell you, it was great to hear Floor Jansen's voice again, who played the Colos for the third time, each time with different bands (After Forever and Star One being the other two). And no, she still hasn't lost it. While the song-writing of her new band isn't as mature as that of After Forever (R.I.P.) her vocal capabilities easily made the performance a resounding success. Powerful as in the fast opener "Here's My Hell", fervent as in the sophomore song "All Goodbyes Are Said" or soulful as in the ballad "Sweet Curse", Floor impressed with the versatility of her voice. But the rest of the band also did a good job, building the foundation for Floor's soaring vocals and generally getting the crowd in the mood for the upcoming artists, and hence received very positive feedback from the audience. A solid performance, which unfortunately was void of any surprises in the setlist.
Setlist: Here's My Hell, All Goodbyes Are Said, Fast Forward, Sweet Curse, Disdain, Kill Me With Silence, Million, Break, Disgraced, Head Up High
Kells might be rather unknown to many people and it might come as a surprise that they got to play after ReVamp and as direct support for Epica, but they definitely deserve their share of attention. Unlike most bands from this particular scene, Kells don't draw inspiration from Theatre Of Tragedy or Nightwish, but from Korn and Deftones instead. The nu metal riffing blends surprisingly well with the typical symphonic metal vocals of singer Virginie which makes them quite a standout band in the genre. At least on CD. In a live environment the nu metal aspect appeared to be a lot more prevalent, so that many visitors were a bit irritated, even alienated. And so Virginie was singing, shouting and screaming her lungs out - the latter especially during the as of yet unreleased new songs "L'heure que le temps va figer" and "Le manège déchanté" - while bounding all across the stage. And many a visitor was wondering where this girl in her corset got all the energy from to deliver such a steady performance over 45 minutes while never really coming to rest, yet still coming across as tender and innocuous. The rest of the band also left its mark with guitarist Patrick contributing a few harsh vocals as well and bassist Lo, who did bear some resemblance to Korn's Jonathan Davis, making faces and interacting a whole lot with the audience, occasionally stealing the show from the bounding gazelle Virginie.
In the second half of their set Kells moved even more towards nu metal with the aforementioned "L'heure que le temps..." and a tribute to their main inspiration by performing the only English song of their gig, a rendition of Korn's "Here To Stay." While this cover wasn't bad, it wasn't quite what people have come for this night and so the response was rather lukewarm. Fortunately the band opted to end their set in a reconciliatory manner with two of their better songs from their latest album Lueurs.
Setlist: Réminiscences, Avant que tu..., Ailleurs, Le manège déchanté (new song), Mes rêves, Sans teint, L'heure que le temps va figer (new song), Here To Stay (KoRn cover), La sphère, Lueur
But now it finally was time for the headliners of the night, the one reason why everyone has come: Epica! The band made its entry with the opener of the new album "Samadhi/Resign to Surrender" and got subjected to a frenetic welcome. Epica were in top form, pulled off a flawless performance - enhanced by the great sound in the venue - and emanated an unreal amount of fun. And the setlist was just perfect as well! Right after the openers from their latest album Design Your Universe Epica returned straight back to their beginnings with the piano-driven "Sensorium" and went on with the captivating and at times fast-paced "Fools of Damnation" with its oriental touch. Singer Simone Simons was as lovely to look at as always, enchanting the whole audience with her angelic voice, but still making a very down-to-earth impression, jesting a lot in between songs and interacting a lot with her band mates.
It's nearly impossible not to make this a song-by-song review as each and every song was a highlight in itself which actually deserves to be written about. The upbeat "Martyr of the Free Word" for example, which features Simone's mezzo-soprano vocals entangled with the growls of guitarist Mark Jansen, was just as mind-blowing live as on CD. "Cry for the Moon" from their debut has always been a fan favourite and so the whole hall was singing along during the chorus of this song. Another highlight was the ballad "Tides of Time", which Simone suggested to be used as beer break, has easily given you goosebumps or at least conjured a smile upon your face. And if you weren't as hypnotized as I was, you might indeed have gotten a beer by now. That's also what Simone did during the instrumental "Imperial March" (a constant in the band's setlist since their Classical Conspiracy performance in Miskolc) to return refreshed for the finale of their regular set, comprised of "The Obsessive Devotion" and the epic title track of their latest masterpiece, "Design Your Universe." In between these two songs they were shaking hands with a girl from the front row and as I got to find out later this particular girl had a "Design Your Universe" tattoo in her neck which just looked way cool.
Setlist: Samadhi, Resign to Surrender, Sensorium, Fools of Damnation, Unleashed, Martyr of the Free Word, Cry for the Moon, Tides of Time, The Imperial March, The Obsessive Devotion, Design Your Universe
My mind was overflowed with impressions by now and couldn't really take more of the awesomeness that was a club show of Epica. Most people however needed another fix and demanded an encore. The attentive fan might also have noticed that Epica hadn't played anything from Consign to Oblivion yet and as the band was eager to do something about that it didn't take much convincing to get them playing again. The simply beautiful "Sancta Terra" of The Divine Conspiracy made the beginning before they eventually closed the night with the rather calm "Quietus" and the title track of their sophomore album "Consign to Oblivion", which turned out to be the perfect conclusion for an absolutely brilliant night.
Encore: Sancta Terra, Quietus, Consign to Oblivion
Happy and exhausted, most people left for their homes now. At the merch stands in the entry hall Floor Jansen of ReVamp and the whole of Kells were giving autographs, talked with the fans, sold their merchandise themselves and got joined by Epica's Mark Jansen after a while. I however have gotten what I had come for, so satisfied I also went home and am ever since waiting for the announcement of the next Epica tour once they've returned from the States.
Text and photos by Daniel "Promonex" Pereira of Metal Storm.
All rights reserved, do not use without permission.
All rights reserved, do not use without permission.
||Written on 12.11.2010 by Daniel "Promonex" Pereira loves to enthuse people with stuff he's enthusiastic about; as writer, photographer, promoter and DJ. Metal Storm staff since 2005.|
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