First up was a support act that was simply the wrong band for the bill – the infinitely forgettable Ego kill talent. They’re one of those generic sounding bands where you can’t remember anything they played once they go off stage, but more importantly they’re just not the right band to entertain a Within Temptation crowd. Other parts of the tour get Beyond the black who would have been a much more popular opening act if they’d played the UK leg of the tour. Talking with other fans, the most positive opinion seems to be “decent band but wrong for the bill”, but most fans I’ve spoken to were far less charitable than that.
Within temptation kicked off the show with three songs from the new album. It’s a brave decision given the fact the album isn’t out yet, so fans don’t know the new material. I thought the opening song, “Raise your banner” felt a bit unexciting and despite Sharon’s best efforts singing and waving a white banner, it just didn’t get the gig off on the right foot. To be fair it may not be the song itself but the fact that nobody (other than those fans who have already been to another date on the tour) has actually heard the song before, and new songs traditionally get less reaction from the crowd – at least until some time after the song is released and people get to know it. The second new song though changed things – “The reckoning” was the first single from the album, so people knew it but more importantly the song had more power and energy and would have been a much better start to the show.
After a third new song, the band moved into a set full of classic songs spanning many years of their career with just one more new song coming later in the set. They’ve reached the stage where they’ve got so many songs from the various albums that fans want to hear that they can’t fit them all into the set, leading to difficult decisions for the band – what to include and what to leave out. A notable omission was “Ice queen”, but with the amount of great songs in the set I doubt many felt disappointed by the selection of old songs in the set.
“Forgiven” was performed with just keyboards and vocals while the rest of the band left the stage. It gave it a beautiful intimate feel especially as the crowd quietened down for it. Ending with “Mother earth” the band brought the set to a close. Unsurprisingly after a short break they’re back to do an encore and give the crowd rep songs to end the night.
Having attended the Birmingham show a few days earlier, this was a much bigger show – they had been unable to use their full stage set in Birmingham, and clearly enjoyed having more space tonight, and Sharon did use that space to move around. Tonight’s show also included Sharon flying on wires during “Stairway to the skies” (very reminiscent of Cristina Scabbia at the Lacuna coil 119 show) – something that wasn’t possible in Birmingham.
Starting the show with three new songs in a row, from an album that hasn’t been released yet meant that this was a slow start but once they got into the material that the fans knew, things got a lot better. I really do think that was a bad mistake – starting with so many new songs really does make it hard to get the crowd engaged and I know that when a show starts badly it can spoil the evening for some fans. This was not Within Temptation at their very best, but they were still very good.
I’ve got mixed feelings about tonight (and the Birmingham show). The band are playing well (but the sound wasn’t great which spoilt it slightly) and when they do the old classics it’s great, but to do 4 new songs (from an album that is still a month away from release), with 3 of those at the start of the set, felt like a mistake that turned this from a great night to just a good night.
Raise your banner
In the middle of the night
Stand my ground
All I need
Shot in the dark
Paradise (what about us)
The heart of everything
What have you done
Stairway to the skies