[NEW – interview with Charlotte Wessels before the gig]
Well, this was quite the line-up for your gothic / orchestral metal fan. Undeniably two of the best in the genre with sounds that complement each other well, treading the same stage and both known for performances that can get a festival crowd rocking.
With only the one support slot, we were gifted with forty minutes from Delain. The brainchild of Martijn Westerholt and fronted by Charlotte Wessels, Delain are touring in support of album number 4 1/2 (if we include 2013’s Interlude), and are as seasoned a bunch of performers as tonight’s headliners.
Their set was fairly evenly divided amongst three of their albums (see further down the page) and the squeezed in three from the current release, even being brave enough to open with one. No surprises to hear “Stardust” in there as it’s the current video from the band and perhaps the inclusion of “Army of Dolls” could be a clue as to the next video?
With Within Temptation’s curtained-off kit taking up a fair bit of stage space, Delain were pushed towards the front, but at no point looked cramped. Marching back and forth, bouncing around and posing like the pros they are, the whole band looked so comfortable up there it would have been easy to assume they were headlining. The crowed response on top of that would be enough to fool the casual observer.
The last time I saw a support band at the Academy get such a large portion of the crowd on their side from the get-go was Anthrax opening for Motorhead a couple of years back.
Charlotte took the whole thing in her stride, not just singing the songs but performing them. Maybe this is her operatic training, or maybe it’s just that she writes lyrics that mean so much to her, but either way it adds to the vision of a band who aren’t just throwing a few songs around.
All too soon, the obvious closer of “We Are the Others” began – a song that actually gives me goosebumps with the opening chords, mainly due to its inspiration and message – and shortly afterwards the band were taking their farewell bows.
With luck we could be looking at a headlining tour in the UK next year. On the strength of tonight’s performance, they’ll do just fine.
A surprisingly short set change later and headliners Within Temptation strode on stage to begin a set lasting almost two hours.
Like Delain, they opened with a newer track – one of seven from current album Hydra to be played over the evening. The stage set was very impressive with a well-used video screen to the rear, raised podiums for keyboards/drums and a great light show. Atmospheric, it certainly was.
Musically, the standard matched the appearance with no problem. A hugely varied set list played its part, including an acoustic rendition of “Whole World Is Watching” (the one from the new album that features Soul Asylum‘s Dave Pirner on guest vocals). This version had less of a kick than the original recording, but was another whole world of “haunting”. Possibly the highlight of a great set.
With such a good light show, and so many tracks played this must be one of the best value gigs you’ll see at the Academy this year. Two accomplished acts, not a duff song between them and – for the Academy – not bad sound on the night.