Home Gigs Gig Review: Evanescence and Within Temptation, Birmingham Utilita Arena”

Gig Review: Evanescence and Within Temptation, Birmingham Utilita Arena”

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Review by Sheri Bicheno for MPM

Three long years have passed – rescheduling, re-arranging, a very eager tsunami of UK fans waiting for what promised to be one of the most spectacular shows on our shores and finally, here we are!

Two of the most colossal bands in modern metal deliver their highly anticipated co-headlining tour this Autumn… and my inner teenage self is savouring every minute.

Evanescence and Within Temptation what more can we say? What a wonderfully fitting combination! The giants of Symphonic Metal and Gothic Rock partner together for their When Worlds Collide tour and despite being countries apart, have so many familiarities with each other. 

The show at The Utilita Arena in Birmingham’s doors were at 6pm, just on the Birmingham Canal Old Line and upon taking a walk from The Flapper just around the corner, the sight of the queues of fans was simply heart warming.

A sea of Evanescence, KoRn, Within Temptation, Nightwish and Slipknot hoodies floating around outside the building, it was like stepping back into the early 2000’s of my teens, hanging out with my like-minded mates belting Evanescence tracks out at the top of our lungs in parks and just before the local Youth Club’s answer to a metal night. 

Everyone was buzzing… so in I went, bumping into some friends along the way. 

Opening band VERIDIA took to the stage with an ambient beginning with blue and purple hues of light and the soothing voice of Deena Jakoub echoing through the void…

I had never seen nor heard of Tennessee Alt Rock VERIDIA before this, though as they later mention that they are an independent band since around 2014, I majorly hope that many other people will go and show them the support that they deserve. 

Starting their set with the echoes of heart stopping drums intro to first track Blood Diamond the hype gets started and a visually beautiful show of lights glare through the smoke on stage. Deena’s voice is stunning – she has a modern vocal style that reminds me a little of Spiritbox, Skillet and Pink in some places a beautiful range that delivers a powerful aura across the arena.

Feed The Animal is delivered to us in again, a very ambient style – which is a nice contrast to the studio version of this track. It’s catchy vibe has a fun edge around it and talks to us of remaining free.

Poppies is one of my favourite tracks from this set… with some electronica moments and Brandon Brown’s scratchy guitar riffs to really get into the depths of this song.

Lyrically, this song touches upon the mental health insights behind addiction and as here it’s live, it’s a really deep hitting track before Still Breathing is introduced to us. Another favourite of mine, this track has a lot of pop influence but powerful tones of groove rock and a huge injection of feeling to draw the audience in.

Deena then stands alone and she speaks with such a sincere and gentle voice, sharing with us her experience with grief, sadly losing her father not so long ago and addressing that grief is such a heavy burden. She encourages the message to share our grief to help ourselves, to not keep it locked away and allow ourselves to heal together… and this is a personal message that I, like many of us, relate to on an extremely deep and familiar level.

Deena introduces Amy Lee onto the stage, where she takes her place on the piano – and there, between them, a truly stunning moment is created. I’ll Never Be Ready reduced me to tears.

Ripples of Amy’s piano vapoured out across the stage and her voice entwined with Deena’s to deliver such a beautiful and powerful representation of inner grief behind loss. Breath-taking.

Next track At The End Of The World gives off a groove rock vibe and re-introduces a thundering drum beat from Kyle Levy throughout. This track has a huge energy and has the crowd around me headbanging before we head into the last track from this fantastic band.

I Wont Stay Down has an atmospheric intro before it launches into an electronica pop style groove and captures an upbeat and positive vibe – touching upon keeping a positive outlook through battling depression.

Their first time in the UK, VERIDIA had a fantastic reception from us in Birmingham and I would thoroughly recommend going to catch their set if you see them pop up again!

Darkened stage of purple LED lighting effects set the mood. Amy Lee’s voice echoes the beginning to Artifact/The Turn through the lights, with a core absorbing, stunning intro as the rest of the band enter the stage.

Her silhouette appears at the top of the platform in front of the lights and her phenomenally beautiful voice effortlessly glides across the crowd. She makes her way down towards the rest of the band as the intro melts into the next track Broken Pieces Shine.

The riffing and blasts from the drums weave together, thus we are introduced to Evanescence’s set with a mind-blowing marriage of power, haunting energies and emotion. 

We are taken through 16 mesmerising tracks, mostly taken from Evanescence’s more recent album The Bitter Truth which was released in 2021.

Broken Pieces Shine is a stunning first offering… the sheer emotion is breath taking. The thundering drums of Will Hunt provides the tempo of this track, commanding the falling of everything else into place. 

Made of Stone provided a nostalgic and shining deliverance… the guitars of Tim McCord and Troy McLawhorn were exceptional, creating the heavier melody layers in what we all know and love in Evanescence.

Having said that, we were treated to one of the earliest of Evanescence in it’s full and beautiful glory quite early on in their set – Going Under had the crowd singing at the top of their lungs and I wondered if there were any, like me, there in my mid-thirties, instantly was taken back to when this song was part of my (somewhat) growth at Secondary school, I remember taking Fallen to school every week and playing it on my Walkman until the CD wouldn’t play in it anymore so Mr McSharry let us play it in Art class.

That album Cover Art was part of my Art GCSE project funnily enough – so to be here listening to people my age, plus younger and older, belt this out along with one of our most idolised vocalists in my teens was something to behold.

And let me tell you – the range whilst live is better than what I expected.

Pure ambience. The chugging yet tight bass of Emma Anzai underlines the tempo and change of atmospheric moods in Part Of Me – one of my favourite tracks from The Bitter Truth. And live, that ambient mood is amplified tenfold. Emma’s backing vocals are also a beautiful and soothing balance alongside Amy’s powerful haunting vocals. 

This show is probably the most I’ve been caught out, right in those feels… Far From Heaven adorned with glowing lights in the dark of the stage, Amy sits and encapsulates grief and loss in her voice lacing through her beautiful piano work, the atmosphere is drenched in sombre and loving messages to a passed loved one.

Again, I am reduced to tears – and I am not ashamed to admit that. To really absorb music is to feel it.
“What if I can’t see your light anymore?” 

Stunning…

Your Star and Call Me When You’re Sober are a couple of the older tracks taken from 2006’s The Open Door, drenching the crowd in more nostalgia amongst the newer tracks and really kicks out some of the epically huge symphonic sides of Evanescence before we are treated to another nostalgic hit– Imaginary was a clear favourite of the night with the crowd singing along as loud as possible (including myself):
“In my field of paper floweeeeeeers
And candy clouds of lullaby…
I lie inside myself for houuuuuuuuuurs
And watch my purple sky fly over me.”

By the Gods, SO MUCH unity in one song. It was beautiful. Amy’s voice was flawless, absolutely perfect. The band were stunning and delivered that song in all it’s marvel from Fallen as it was at the very beginning of most of our journey’s with Evanescence.

Amy addresses the crowd and tells us that that one of the most powerful tools we have, is our expression, our voices.

“Guess what? When we all stand together, we make A LOUD SOUND!
Don’t stop fighting for what you know is right, don’t stop fighting for each other…”
Use My Voice seeps through us from the stage and provides the encouraging and powerful message of inner strength and being true to yourself.

This is an uplifting and catchy performance, the bass and drums work together in this track to deliver a sound that is so huge and leaves an impression that matches it’s message.

I was NOT ready for the sheer velocity of emotion that My Immortal provided. The power in this song live was just inexplicable. Amy had the whole Arena join in, lighting up their phone torches, everyone around me was totally in the moment and falling in love with Evanescence all over again.

The chills came when the bridge “Though you’re still with me, I’ve been alone all along…” turning from sombre and haunting piano to a powerful energy of guitars and drums… totally knocked me off my feet.

Last track from Evanescence was always going to be Bring Me To Life – and as expected, the finale to their set had full impact. An Arena full of those early 2000’s goth and skater kids at heart belting this phenomenal hit out, reflecting it back to the stage, amongst Amy’s outstanding power to hold her vocal range, was nothing short of spectacular.

A very happy lady, I have been absolutely mesmerised by Evanescence live.

The screen lights up and the face of Winston Churchill with impending Crucifix’s descending towards the crowd with a dooming intro of Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker echoing through the stage.

The set up of the stage for Within Temptation was outstanding.

A gigantic deconstructing head taken from The Purge towering the platform was placed in the middle of a futuristic theme and provided space for astonishing pyrotechnics throughout the set.

Sharon Den Adel’s haunting voice booms out and the choir of Our Solemn Hour emanates out towards the crowd.

The lighting show is spectacular, flames shoot up to the rafters and the ambience is now set. Orchestral and symphonic vibes are the signature Within Temptation highlights.

That is not to say that the Dutch group stay within that genre. Much of their set ranges through melodic and atmospheric tones, experimental entwining with solid riffs and operatic themes.

Faster and Paradise are favourites amongst the crowd, Sharon rings out her vocal range and commands the stage. The band are on point, the guitar riffs are clean yet set the range of tempo, out escapes the energetic frequencies of both songs and deliver a sonic masterpiece amongst the Arena.

During Paradise, we see the face of Tarja Turunen on screen providing vocals along with Sharon – a wonderful duet that was greatly appreciated by the audience. Within Temptation certainly know how to surprise their fans!

The Purge was delivered with so much ambience and beauty, the lighting dimmed and the background of the screens with visions of lightning and clouds in hues of blue and purple. Smoke effects erupted in time with the drums and I feel this is one of the tracks where the bass and guitars could really be felt.

Raise Your Banner saw Sharon proudly waving the blue and yellow flag across the stage and shouting ‘SLAVA UKRAINI’ , dedicating the song to Ukraine. And loud this track was! The energy flowing from the stage for the people of Ukraine was exceptional. The ambience of the drums and outpour of support from the crowd was mind blowing and for a moment, the unity in the air was very much real. Within Temptation are an entity all on their own… 

At one point Sharon stopped their set to get help for someone down the front of the stage who needed medical attention – and that tells me that this is a band that truly has empathy and care for their followers.

Second from final offering of the night Ice Queen – saw symphonic vibes ring from the stage that shook the Arena, the vocal range of Sharon in a higher beautiful tone here and blended so well with the atmospheric riffs.

Last offering of the evening, Mother Earth blowing the roof off the Arena off with its huge orchestral tones and symphonic bellows of strings and pipes. The riffs were hardening and bass took the undertone to this beautiful song representing the view of Nature and her ever changing ways.

Absolutely stunning show. All fans of Within Temptation and Evanescence yet to see them on this tour – you don’t know how lucky you’re gonna get it! 

Photography by Manny Manson for MPM

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