Gig Review: EMPYRE / Black Orchid Empire – KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton (22nd April 2023)

What an amazing atmosphere for Saturday night with EMPYRE headlining KK’s Steelmill, taking the audience by storm with their new album Relentless.

Black Orchid Empire © Shaun Hulme
Black Orchid Empire © Shaun Hulme

To start off the nights show, rock band Black Orchid Empire gave the audience a blast with bits from their new album, Tempus Veritas, and the song that stood out the most which was “The Raven”. Vocalist and guitarist, Paul Visser, mentioned that EMPYRE’s first gig was spent supporting Black Orchid Empire and now they are returning the favour, following it up with: “Quite cute, really.” It’s nice to see the true support and friendship between the bands which was clearly displayed on Saturday night. Visser then turns the audience’s attention towards a chair next to a keyboard as he seemed to get wrapped around it while performing a song. He then makes a smart joke about sondering what’s going to happen with the chair. We later find out the meaning behind this with one of Empyre’s classics…

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EMPYRE took to the stage with lots of gratitude and they opened with “Waking Light” from their new album. Henrick (vocals/guitar), joked about them “Killing the vibe,” which became a running joke for the set as their style is more mellow than most rock bands. This joke continued as they welcomed the jovial booing and described themselves as “A very average show.” Throughout the show, the band performed some classics and some new songs, which captivated the audience and brought a fantastic atmosphere with it. The whole show seemed very arena-like with EMPYRE bringing their own little twist to it with their 3D images playing behind them for each song. Henrick explained: “The slides don’t sync up very well because we were only told mid-week that we were being upgraded to the big room.” With the band not being used to such a big audience, it was clear that they were so grateful and having a great time on that stage.

EMPYRE © Shaun Hulme
EMPYRE © Shaun Hulme

The guys ripped through some of the new songs from their album such as “Parasites” and the stand-out track “Hit and Run”. Toward the end of the show, Did Cole (guitars) pulled out that stand-alone chair and began to play the piano assisted with Henrick on vocals as they performed the fan-favourite “Only Way Out”. During this performance, Grant Hockley (bass) and Elliot Bale (drums) exited the stage, leaving the limelight to the other two band members and then re-entered the stage halfway through the song to really emphasise the strength of the song. The audience were in awe and quite frankly, so was I. The show ended with another fan-favourite “New Republic” from their debut album Self-Aware. They gave a great show and delivered to the audience exactly what they needed for a Saturday night. 

EMPYRE are most definitely an arena band in waiting and despite the jokes, I can surely say that Empyre are far from an “average” band.

Set list:

  1. Waking Light
  2. Parasites
  3. My Bad
  4. Stone
  5. Quiet Commotion
  6. Cry Wolf
  7. Forget Me
  8. Your Whole Life Slows
  9. Road to Nowhere
  10. Silence Screaming
  11. Relentless
  12. Homegrown
  13. Hit and Run
  14. Only Way Out – Piano Acoustic
  15. Only Way Out
  16. New Republic

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Review by Shannon Hulme

Photos by Shaun Hulme

EMPYRE: official | facebook | twitter | instagram | spotify | youtube

Black Orchid Empire: official | facebook | twitter | instagram | bandcamp

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