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Live Review: Evanescence – SEC Armadillo, Glasgow

Evanescence are back in Glasgow supporting their fourth studio album, “Synthesis”. Essentially, the new release is an electro-orchestral reworking, and re-imagining, of their previous material, but with a couple of new songs thrown in. While there have been many rock/metal bands in the past that have utilised orchestras live (Metallica and Deep Purple spring to mind), it does feel like a very natural progression for Evanescence, who already use symphonic elements within their songs. The previous studio album was released way back in 2011, and the last time they played here, I believe, was around seven years ago, but they still manage to inspire a loyal and dedicated following that’s resulted in a sell out show this evening.

EvanescenceThe U.S. dates, in the summer, will feature American violinist Lindsey Stirling in the support slot, but tonight the warm up act is the 28 piece orchestra that will later provide the musical backing for Amy Lee. I have to admit this is a first for me; I’ve been to more rock/metal gigs than I can count, over more years than I care to admit, but this is the first that features a harp on stage. For many rock fans, the idea of watching an orchestra before the main band might be a bit odd, this doesn’t feel like your usual rock concert. Still, there is a very high turnout to witness this classical ensemble.

Under the direction of conductor Susie Benchasil Seiter, the orchestra runs through an enjoyable 30 minute set consisting of some well known popular classical pieces, such as Mozart’s La Chasse and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. While it’s very well received by the Glasgow audience, the loudest cheer unsurprisingly goes up when Amy Lee takes to the stage wearing a Victorian styled Gothic black and red floor length dress.

With only one front woman and an orchestra, many bands might be tempted to put up some screens, perhaps showing video footage, or have an elaborate light show to make up for the lack of movement on stage. Evanescence however only have a backdrop with abstract shapes projected onto it, some lights that shine beams across the heads of the audience, and some strobe effects during “My Heart Is Broken”. While the stage show is fairly simple, it is effective and compliments the mood of the music well without being distracting. For much of the gig my focus of attention actually moves away from Amy (who is either sitting at the piano, or fairly static in front of the microphone), and on to Will Hunt, who entertains with his drum stick twirling antics and muscular drumming. While many fast death metal drummers will barely move their arms because of the speed they are playing, Mr Hunt will instead flail his arms around, hitting drums from quite a distance. It might not be the most efficient way to play, but it is eye catching.

EvanescenceFor the main part of the set there are no surprises, as far as song choice goes. They run through the entirety of “Synthesis”, although not in the album order. The biggest cheers of the night of course are reserved for “Bring Me To Life”, “My Immortal”, and “Imaginary” (all of which are taken from the “Fallen” album). Amy Lee’s voice is faultless, and she expresses all the angst and passion that she’s known for in her studio recordings. The orchestra does a wonderful job of recreating the sound from “Synthesis”. On one of the few occasions that Amy chats to the crowd, she tells us that they have a different orchestra in each place they play. They only did three songs together during the sound check, and that was the only time they played together before the gig.

One criticism I have is that I found the electronic sounds tended to be overwhelming, and a bit too loud compared to the orchestra. This seemed to be more of a problem at the beginning of the set and settled down as the gig progressed. Also, the guitarists sitting centre stage might as well not have been there, as they couldn’t be heard at all. It looked that, for the most part, they were just playing simple power chords, but they were just completely lost in the mix.

Evanescence finish up with an encore of three songs that don’t feature on the latest album; “Speak to Me” (a song Amy tells us she wrote for a film score), “Good Enough” (from “The Open Door” album), and “Swimming Home” (from the third album). While some fans might feel the format of just Amy Lee and an orchestra might not be as exciting as say a full band with electric guitars and amps cranked to eleven, it was an engaging performance that held our attention to the end. For the Evanescence fans that came out to the show, I’m sure this evening will live on in their memories for a long time. There are still a lot of dates on this tour, so if you’re an Evanescence fan, and you haven’t seen one of the shows already, you won’t find yourself disappointed if you go along.

Set List:

Overture
Never Go Back
Lacrymosa
End of the Dream
My Heart Is Broken
Lithium
Bring Me to Life
Unraveling
Imaginary
Secret Door
Hi-Lo
Lost in Paradise
Your Star
My Immortal
The In-Between
Imperfection

Encore:
Speak to Me (Amy Lee song)
Good Enough
Swimming Home

Review: Martin Patterson

Images: Lara Vischi

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