Tours of this variety very rarely come around. Two bands that are arguably at the top of their game at the moment despite undergoing lineup changes, touring together on the same bill was an event that I did not want to miss. Only there was no UK date. Instead of moaning about this and missing the tour, I broke out the passport, booked a holiday for a few days and jumped on the Eurostar over to Paris to catch what would be an evening to remember.
Before I go on to the concert, first just a bit of background surrounding the whole event and some venue information. Almost everyone will have heard of the world famous Moulin Rouge, but probably not so many of the venue La Machine. Being the venue which is now associated with the former, it’s located on the Boulevard de Clichy in Montmartre – La Chapelle also known as the 18e Arrondissement. Upon arrival and after having a quick chat with the guys from Equilibrium to arrange the interview over a few beers, I made my way into the venue.
The first band which I only managed to catch the tail-end of due to other factors was Black Therapy (7). What I saw from them was rather good. Having a more modern melodic death metal sound, the crowd that was steadily growing in size seemed to be enjoying them and there were a good number of people nodding along or in some cases singing along valiantly.
The crowd were obviously saving most of their energy for the following two bands, the first of which being the German legends that are Equilibrium (10). Wow. Having waited nigh on eight years to see the band live and sadly missing their last London show, to finally see the quintet perform was nothing short of incredible. Vocalist Robse delivered with such energy and engaged with the crowd in a manner that I have never seen before. It was almost as if he captured everyone’s attention and had them at his beck and call. The main thing that surprised me about the performance was the variety in the set-list. There was a mixture of both fan favourites such as “Blut Im Auge” and “Unbesiegt”, but also they broke one of my favourites from Rekreatur, “Verbrannte Erde”, which loosely translates as ‘Burned Earth’. The first notes and the opening roar certainly made it feel like the earth was burning and clearly the crowd did as well with the mosh pits rapidly increasing in size.
Noticeably, founding member and guitarist René Berthiaume was absent from the lineup that evening. After having a chat with the guys after the show, this was due to him busy with working on “exciting things”. They of course did say the reason why, but I’m not going to divulge that just yet. With mosh pits galore, a “wall of love” and a superb sound, the quintet delivered a performance unlike any other I have seen. Add to that the insane crowd response with earth-shattering roars and crowd-surfers aplenty, it was one of those performances that you needed to be there to witness. They truly were “Born to be Epic”.
After a rather quick changeover and a projector starting up, it was then time for the headliners of the night, Dark Tranquillity (10) to take to the stage. With a venue-shaking bass note before dropping into “Encircled”, the titans calmly meandered on stage to another one of Paris’ mighty roars which almost shook the room as much as the bass note did. And that would be my one complaint about their set. There was far too much bass in the sound. Admittedly, when I did relocate to another location temporarily the sound did improve a bit but there was still a little too much bass for my liking. Despite this, the crowd was lapping up their performance and continually going crazy. So much so, that one person released a whole set of balloons into the crowd which frontman Mikael Stanne joked about numerous times in the set.
About halfway through the performance, Mikael took the time to introduce who was on stage with the band which included Johan Reinholdz from Andromeda and Skyfire, and none other than Chris Amott (Mike Amott’s brother). Both guitarists played absolutely flawlessly with Chris in particular flying through both rhythms and leads with seemingly no effort. And that’s how the performance from the band felt. It looked like they could almost play the songs blindfolded if they wanted but instead chose to focus on making the stage-show as good as possible. If anything, they perhaps relied a little too much on frontman Mikael to engage with the audience, which he did in again a manner I’d never seen before, but that’s just me being nitpicky. If Equilibrium were the ones that had the best band performance, then DT had the best overall performance.
To be fair, that is kind of what you expect really. You expect the headliner to have the best all round performance. In this case however, I have to give the edge to Equilibrium though. They just had that extra little something which made the whole performance that bit more special. Maybe I’m biased slightly as I’ve only recently come onto DT after a recommendation by Markus Vanhala (Omnium Gatherum/Insomnium), but I just felt that Equilibrium had that little bit extra. I will say this though in closing: if either band is playing near you in the future then go and see them.