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Within Temptation @ Birmingham O2 Academy (8/11/11)

posted 30 Nov 2011, 07:15 by Paul Woodward

Review by Woody

Photo’s by Alexx Peace

Tonight’s show has been sold out for a while and I know I wasn’t the only one shocked at just how many people were heading into Brum for this gig! I arrived fashionably late at 7.45, expecting the queue to be long gone with doors opening at 7, yet the massive queue was still snaking it’s way around Brum! You’d think the security staff would be used to crowd sizes like this, but I heard (yes I was eavesdropping!) a couple of security staff talking in the entrance who were both incredulous about how many more people were yet to come in! Tour organisers take note the tickets for tonight’s gig were £17.50, so if you’re struggling to sell tickets maybe your £40 + ones may be driving people away! Just a thought.

I hadn’t done any research on tonight’s support act Anneke van Giersbergen and I have no knowledge of her previous band The Gathering, so I was listening to her set blind, or should that be deaf? Well you know what I mean! Anneke is a stunningly beautiful model-esque type with an angelic voice to match; she left my jaw on the floor after her set on the strength of her sweet voice. Musically not what I was expecting, I’m thinking heavy and dark, but what we get is electro pop flavoured rock, she went down well with the crowd and given reactions you could gather there was a good chunk of fans of her previous band present, this feeling was only compounded with The Gathering’s song “Saturine” getting the loudest crowd response.

Anneke is quite a timid performer and I think her performance style would excel in more intimate venues although her voice is designed for symphony halls. The supporting musicians didn’t have a whole lot of room to move about but did seem to enjoy their brief time onstage. Amongst the set list were “Fury”, “Circles”, “My Boy”, “You Want To Be Free”, “Feel Alive” & “Witnesses”.

Most of Within Temptation’s stage gear was already set up, including a large bridge which included the Keyboard and Drum riser, loads of lights and a massive cinema screen backdrop and the road crew soon had the stage ready for a packed crowd! I’ve heard loads of good reports of just how good these guys are live but I’ve never gotten around to seeing them, so tonight I had high expectations to have my world rocked!

I think one of the best ways to sum up the whole performance is to say it was “Visually Stunning”, because that is what it was. The light show was incredible and well thought out, I normally find the lights headache inducing and eye wateringly annoying, but tonight the lighting tech had it spot on and helped enhance the mood of the songs and overall atmosphere. The cinema screen was never blank showing short films, music videos and other graphics making the bands stage presence a visual feast!

Having said that though I found the musicians themselves to be less active than I expected for a band like this, having seen Epica rip up The Robin in March I was expecting some similar metal madness! Within Temptation have softened their sound with each release, but still retain that symphonic metal attitude so I was expecting more in the way of individual musician performance. That said sound wise the band were faultless recreating the songs in near recorded quality.

As the focal point of the band Sharon den Adel does a fantastic job of enticing the audience into the songs. She has a personable manner with the crowd smiling, pointing and acknowledging the crowd in a warm friendly manner. Her quirky and subtle dancing style doesn’t distract from her awe inspiring vocals, which pin point her as one of the leading lights in the symphonic metal scene. Sharon also acknowledges her role as focal point by changing her stage attire more times than I have had hot dinners. I have to say I was quite struck with her big fluffy coat type things, it’s good job I didn’t bump into her, cause I wouldn’t have asked her for an autograph just a quick stroke before been escorted to the cop shop muttering “worth it”!

The new album “The Unforgiving” has been built around a story and that is reflected in the short films including the opening short with the Mother Maiden introduction, and most are highly entertaining most notably the one for “Sinead” and one which includes a huge fight scene which I think accompanied “Iron”, which really emphasised the passion of the song.

I thought I had a good knowledge of the band’s material but I have to admit some of the songs tonight I was unsure if I’d heard before. On the whole it was a well thought out set list which had no dips and kept the crowd on their toes with arms swaying forwards and backwards towards the stage on more than one occasion. For me the highlights were the infectious “In The Middle Of The Night” with its killer guitar riff, the dance driven rock of “Sinead” which is so much more powerful in the live arena and of course the head banging joy of “Angel’s” which received a huge response from the audience.

We also heard “Shot In The Dark”, “Faster”, “Stand My Ground”, “Mother Nature”, “What Have You Done”, “See Who I Am”, “Iron”, “Fire & Ice”, “Lost”, “Stairway To the Skies”, “Our Solemn Hour”, “The Howling” & “Ice Queen”.

Believe the rumours these guys are an amazing live act to behold, and with ticket prices so low they are beyond value for money! If you like Within Temptation and am still yet to see them do yourself a huge favour and head on out to see these guys!