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Delain @ JB's Dudley (24/3/10)

posted 25 Jul 2011, 14:15 by Paul Woodward
Musically, I was a little out of my comfort zone tonight but I do have a penchant for these female fronted symphonic goth metal bands, like Nightwish (now fronted by cult AOR’sters Alyson Avenue singer Anette Olzen). There is a shit-load of this style of band around at the moment, some obviously a lot better than others. I tend to drift towards the more commercial sounding bands like Delain, who also use “grunting” to a minimum - a singing style so prevalent in these style of bands - but a total put off for me!
 
Local band Winter Storm kick off the evening, these guys are perhaps more gothic than a lot of their counterparts and less symphonic sounding, I hear quite a bit of Sisters of Mercy in their music. They are quite unique in one respect compared to their contemporaries, no I’m not referring to the masked wrestler Jason Oakley on keyboards! I’m in fact referring to singer Hannah not only also plays guitar she plays lead guitar!
 
I was quite intrigued by the band. Their stand out song for me was their last song “The Embrace”, which has a killer upfront keyboard riff - Very Sisters of Mercy, Hannah’s vocals came across best on this too and is probably the most commercial sounding song in their short set. I’m not sure if they have enough songs in their current set to stand out in the goth metal genre, but I’m gonna leave my judgement of the band to the crowd reaction which was exceedingly positive! They are currently recording their debut album and I’m sure goth metal fans will want to check them out…
 
 
Up next are Achilla who are bizarrely a UK band, yet all the members of the band come from across Europe. Lead singer Martamaria is from Hungry, bassist Gus Macricostas is from Greece & drummer Vincenzo Infusino and lead guitarist Daniele Panza are from Italy. More symphonic and commercial sounding than Winter Storm but unfortunately failed to capture my interest. Bizarrely for this genre their was no keyboard player!
 
The band are currently recording their debut album “Timeless”, and in their set tonight we got the likes of “ Feeder”, “Rich”, “The Devil’s Eyes”, “Volcano”, album title track “Timeless” & “White Flower”. I’m gonna again pass judgement onto the audience and judging by their reaction they got two big thumbs up from the JB’s faithful!
 
 
Delain are one of the more commercial bands of their genre, and their fantastic new album “April Rain” is fast on it’s way to breaking the band into the top flight! I wasn’t surprised that tonight the vast majority of the set came from that album too, the band manage to take elements prevalent in this genre and make them more mainstream, managing to combine power and melody to appeal to a wider section of the public.
 
I’d heard that the band had blown JB’s away on their pre-Christmas gig supporting Sonata Arctica. During the course of the night Charlotte Wessels did refer to returning to JB’s and the fantastic reaction they got then & also the unbelievable reaction they were getting again and was glad they were back in Dudley and they would definitely be back to JB’s! The venue has obviously made an impression on the band, which is fantastic given the size and resources of this rather excellent Black Country venue!
 
One of the most important features to these femme metal bands is the lead singer, she above all else has to be the shining light to make them successful. Charlotte definitely has the voice and she definitely has a great stage presence, albeit in a very demure way which just makes you warm to her even more. She also manages to put on an entertaining performance, with lots of hair swirling and dancing and always has a constantly cute smile on her face. She must be up for best hair in rock award as well.
 
The only downside to the gig tonight was the lighting guy, I swear he was out to blind me! Maybe my eyes kept drifting when I was watching Charlotte and he was trying to let me know he wasn’t having any of it, I mean I wasn’t, well maybe a little bit, she is extremely beautiful! Although the lighting guy had tears rolling down my face in the process - arrrggghhh ya fooker!!!!
 
JB’s might not have the largest stage space but Delain sure made the most of it and made the stage look twice its normal size. Always nice to see a band come and put on a show, they had a big back drop, a set of stairs in between the massive drum kit and them even more massive keyboards for the band to perform on and two raised platforms at the front. The front platforms also had hidden goodies inside shooting out plumes of smoke intermittently during the band’s songs and even a few explosions containing what can only be best described as free Rizlas… bonus.
 
The band kicked off their set with “Invidia” which sure got the crowd roaring. I knew these guys had made themselves popular but I just didn’t realise how well loved the band were until tonight. In my position down the front the atmosphere was electric, which always boosts your enjoyment of a gig. I had expected the crowd to be predominately kids as well, hell no, not only was their an amazing range of ages present I’d say the vast majority were 30+ just proving the range of appeal of the band. Well put it this way I now know Santa Claus is a massive symphonic goth metal fan, cause he spent the whole night head banging, dancing and singing along next to me!
 
They then kicked into current single “Stay Forever”, which just sent the place potty! After that they performed two tunes from their debut album “Frozen” & “Sever”, which got just as good as reactions to the April Rain material. The next three songs just sort of sent things into the stratosphere, with the band just firing on all cylinders - hair swirling everywhere - and even though I was totally enchanted by Charlotte, I could still see new bass player Otto and guitarist Ronald Landa working the crowd, all smiles and throwing horns up in recognition to the fans. Those songs were “April Rain”, “Go Away” and my highlight of the set “I’ll Reach You” with Charlotte’s vocals just sounding amazing. I had worried earlier in the set that the vocals were to low in the mix and I wouldn’t get to hear them as well as I’d like but after Charlotte gave the sound guy a tap on the shoulder early on this was soon rectified!
 
They then ironically slowed things down for “Come Closer” before bursting into the high tempo “The Gathering” in which Charlotte urged the crowd to head bang along too, and then “BANG” those of us at the front got covered in free Rizla papers, regardless to any nasty rumours you may hear I was not seen collecting as many as possible before leaving the venue! Although I am still finding them everywhere!
 
Charlotte introduced the next song as being about your worst hangover ever “Nothing Left” which had the crowd singing along. The band’s style definitely comes across really well in the live arena as Delain’s performance tonight gave me a reinvigorated passion for the songs. Unfortunately the next two songs we got I couldn’t figure out the names of, think I must have had a brain fart, got distracted by Charlotte’s goodies or just been too busy stuffing free Rizla down me kegs…
 
Given the amazing reaction the band were getting after the set had finished, the place erupted with cheers and chants and the band didn’t make their loyal following wait long as the band, one by one, returned to the stage for the encore, all individually getting riotous applause!
 
I have to say the band would be incomplete without the contributions of Martjin Westerholt on keyboards and Sander Zoer on drums. Guitarist Ronald then asked if it was ok for them to come back and play another song, which got great cheers, and then he asked if it was ok to play more than one which garnered even louder cheers as Charlotte took to the stage for the melodic bliss of “Virtue & Vice”!  Then they delivered “Lost” which Charlotte dedicated to some of  her fans and finally the majestic “Pristine” to round off an amazing set!
 
Not normally my sort of thing, but I thoroughly enjoyed the gig. Heavy as hell mind but bloody good fun all the same! There was a very good turn out as well, so I expect Delain will be back for another headline tour in the near future. Fantastic live performers, if these guys float your boat on CD you have to go check em out live!
 
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