Within Temptation & Amaranthe – San Francisco – September 25th, 2014
This concert has been a long time coming. Within Temptation show how much they have grown as a band since their last US tour almost exactly 7 years ago. Their popularity has grown quite significantly. Last time they were in San Francisco, they filled Slim’s; this time around they filled the Regency Grandball room, on the floor and upstairs. That’s quite a feat! I don’t think I’ve seen that venue that packed before (seated shows excluded). Production-wise, they’re known for creating a huge and visually appealing stage presence. Just look at any of their live DVD releases and you’ll know that this is one thing they absolutely do not skimp on. Last time they were here, they had a backdrop screen that was barely visible. This time? Huge Hydra banner flying above, and a 5 panel LED screen that played visualizations, accompanying music videos, and guest-giant faces. It really accented their performance and while the cost of lugging that thing around is probably quite high, it really blows out other performances and puts other bands to shame. Musically, they’ve evolved and embraced more rock and metal elements, letting the emphasis on the symphony take a back seat to the band, and naturally Sharon. Strangely enough, Sharon seems to be the only thing that hasn’t changed that much. She sounds, and looks, just as beautiful as she did 7 years ago. Her voice fits juast as well in a symphonic song as it does a rock song, and shows no sign of weakening anytime soon.
Support came from Amaranthe, who have this crazy blend of alternative metal, melodic/power metal, and Eurobeat keyboards. This crazy blend is what really drew me to them, but it also made me wonder how they would pull off this unique sound live. The solution was of course to backtrack the keyboards, something so simple I totally overlooked it. Unfortunately, at least for the first few songs I listened to with earplugs, the mix was not good. I couldn’t hear the keyboards at all, and the vocals were hit or miss, something that can be expected when you have a total of 3 vocalists wanting to be heard. It made it a little crowded on stage, but they did a good job of rotating in and out. Elize Ryd, the female vocalist, sounded amazing, and became more impressive as the setlist went on. From the sweet into of the power ballad Amaranthine, to the high chorus of Drop Dead Cynical, she nailed it all. Her male counterpoint, Jake E did a fine job pumping up the crowd and singing his own. but when it came to the choruses and backing up Elize, his voice seemed to get lost behind everything else going on. With how layered their music is, that’s unfortunate because it didn’t give the choruses that soaring, grand feeling that it does on the albums. That didn’t stop them from delivering a high energy, driven set, debuting several new songs from their upcoming album. I certainly saw a fair share of, “what are we listening to” looks in the crowd, but there was a surprisingly large number of pre-existing Amaranthe fands out there!
Like I said, Within Temptation definitely brought their all to this concert, showing that they are bigger and better than ever. Not only was their stage set up impressive, but their stage presence was impressive as well. Mini-platforms on both sides to give that extra boost. Though there were 6 people on stage, the 4 mobile members were really good about visiting every part of the stage. We were on stage left, right in front of the guitarist Ruud and e looked like he was having a blast! The keyboardist Martijn was right behind him, and he was spread out across two keyboards, but performed with a very stoic aura about him. Across the stage, bassist Jeroen was rocking out very heavily and at times was quite dramatic with his movements! Sharon was all over the place. Up, down, left, right, jumping, dancing, she was doing it all. I’m not sure if it’s because they had more space on stage, or if she’s become much more comfortable on stage, but it’s quite a stark contrast from last time I saw them where she was pretty static and content with doing her mystic arm movements. She was giving off lots of energy, jumping up and down a lot, and she even added a couple little dance routines that were downright adorable!
Since their last US tour, they’ve had two albums come out, so it’s only natural that their setlist was was skewed towards newer material. It was definitely a heavier, more rock oriented setlist as well, which was perfectly fine by me. That didn’t stop the crowd from going wild when they started playing some of their back catalog though! Although I didn’t hear a lot of the older stuff that I love, and I’m still not intimately familiar with Hydra, I was very pleased with the setlist. Good balance of old and new, high energy, and a very fast paced, driven night!
Within Temptation‘s Setlist:
●Paradise (What About Us?) (Very exciting start to the show! Seeing as it was their first show of the tour, there weren’t exactly any guarantees as to what setlist we would hear. I absolutely love this song, two of the voices that got me into (symphonic) metal finally coming together! No Tarja present, so they had the music video playing on the screen. It’s kinda strange hearing Sharon stop singing and having to look in the background to see Tarja singing her part. In the bridge/breakdown, Sharon sounded absolutely stunning!)
●Faster (If the previous song wasn’t enough to get our blood flowing, they demanded we go Faster! Lots of Sharon and Ruud jumping around on this one. I also like the well timed “Hey! Hey! Hey!”s to the music, it was a lot more catchy and fun to do than just a repeated “Hey!”)
●Let Us Burn (Gotta admit, this song was stuck in my head for a week after the concert, and then they announced their new DVD entitled Let Us Burn, and it got stuck in my head all over again…)
●In the Middle of the Night (Another exciting, high paced song. The crowd started cheering once the guitarists started playing. Once again, another great performance by Sharon here, possibly my favorite vocal performance of the night by her.)
●Fire and Ice (Finally, a chance to catch our breath a little, a little slower and more dramatic song.)
●Our Solemn Hour (Everyone disappeared off the stage and the lights dimmed.Then some ominous, dramatic intro started. I had no clue what song it was… until the infamous voice of Winston Churchill started speaking to us. Was pretty obvious after that! I really do love this bombastic, thrilling song!)
●Stand My Ground (One of the big crowd favorites of the night. Not only did they enhance this song by playing parts of music video in the background, but we got lightnin and strobes too!)
●Summertime Sadness (A cover of Lana Del Rey’s hit, this one seemed like they had the most fun performing. Lots of excitement from the band, and Sharon had this cute little dance routine for the choruses!)
●The Cross (And yet another cool down song!)
●And We Run (Sharon tells us that they tried contacting “Mr. Xzibit” to see what he was up to and if he’d wanna do a show or two? Coincidentally, he was over in the Netherlands performing at a festival or two on their turf while they were here on his turf. To which Sharon says, “What’s up with that?” It was adorable! But they played it anyway and we got to see a giant Xzibit face on the screen rapping for us.)
●See Who I Am (Another trip back into the back catalog, another chance to jump up and down!)
●Dangerous (Probably the heaviest song of their night, with some double bass, massive strobes, and yet another guest face on the screen!)
●Edge of the World (This song was pretty much all Sharon with the band rejoining in the last third.)
●What Have You Done (Big hit with the crowd, lots of people were singing along with this one. Can’t blame them, how can you resist yelling along after the chorus?
●Mother Earth (Can’t forget their toots of course, keyboards were quite audible on this song and we saw the return of the Sharon mystic arm dancing!)
●Covered by Roses (A really short break and they were right back out! Sharon took the time to thank everyone for coming out, and for keeping their dream alive, and encouraged all of us to keep following our dreams. I do believe this was the most jumpy song of the evening.)
●Sinéad (Ruud brought out his acoustic for this calmer version of Sinead, it was all him and Sharon for this song.)
●Ice Queen (If was pretty clear that the concert was coming to a close with this song. One last surge of energy from the crowd, “ooo-ooohs” and all!)