It doesn’t matter how many times you attend, the Marble Factory in Bristol is a very odd venue, even more so when people don’t usually start turning up for a gig until about fifteen minutes before doors open – and that’s taking into account them opening late as well. Nevertheless, there is an expectant buzz in the air; it’s not often bands decide to open a full European tour in the UK and even less so in the city that gave us Massive Attack, Banksy and, er, Justin Lee Collins. There is also a good range of punters, spanning nearly forty years in age which is great to see, and they’re all looking for a night of brilliant music.
Spare a thought, therefore, for opening band Kyshera (5). The trio from Cardiff are certainly making steps in their still-fledgling career and they play with good intentions, but they are out of place on the bill and that pretty much kills them off before they’ve got going. They receive warm applause but very little else as far as crowd reception goes and James Kennedy isn’t the greatest vocalist you’ll ever see. It also appears that they’re trying too many different styles – we have keyboards in the opening number and dubstep towards the end whilst Break This also contains a guitar backing track, which makes you wonder why they don’t just have a second guitarist. Oh, and to put a big, fat cherry on top of it all, the sound isn’t great for them either. They definitely have a lot of potential, but it’s not one of their better nights.
Things definitely pick up on the arrival of The Gentle Storm (8) though. Admittedly, they’re fronted by the angelic Anneke van Giersbergen but they’re also musically brilliant. Backed by a very talented band that includes pint-sized guitarist Merel Bechtold from the headliners, Anneke is the captain of her ship and steers them through their set with absolute ease. She is a commanding frontwoman who trades vocals lines beautifully with second vocalist Marcela Bovio (who is also a sight to behold) and, alongside tracks from double album The Diary, even gives us songs from The Gathering, her own solo material and Fallout, one of her many collaborations with metal’s mad genius, Devin Townsend. She also has one of the most infectious smiles you’ll ever see; it’s impossible to say she isn’t having a good time on stage.
Given that they’ve been opening for Nightwish in Central and Latin America recently, it’s pretty clear that Delain (9) have been chomping at the bit to get back out on their own shows and have that freedom of playing a lot more songs; so much so, in fact, that they manage to fit a mammoth seventeen songs into an hour and twenty minutes of pure, symphonic metal heaven. Opening with Tell Me, Mechanist from most recent album ‘The Human Contradiction’, they’re flying from the moment they step on stage and, impressively, keep the momentum and energy going throughout. Vocalist Charlotte Wessels simply oozes charisma from every pore and is a huge prescence on stage whilst the aforementioned Merel Bechtold shows no signs of tiring after putting in a double shift. A career-spanning set includes the likes of April Rain, Sleepwalker’s Dream, Get the Devil Out of Me and a storming rendition of The Gathering, but what makes tonight even more special is the unveiling of a brand new song, Turn the Lights Out, which fits in so well it might as well have been released years ago. It’s not a perfect set as technical issues take the shine off Milk and Honey but it doesn’t matter a jot in the long run. The encore is equally breathtaking: a trio of monster hits that ends, as ever, with the fantastic We Are the Others. It’s got to the point now where Delain have got ‘classics’ in their repertoire, which will set them up very nicely for the future and the new studio album they mentioned tonight. What’s criminal is that they should be playing far bigger venues than this by now. Here’s hoping their next tour will see O2 Academy Bristol, not the Marble Factory.
Tell Me, Mechanist
Army of Dolls
Milk and Honey
Silhouette of a Dancer
Turn the Lights Out (live premiere)
Get the Devil Out of Me
The Tragedy of the Commons
We Are the Others
Photos by Becky O’Grady[flickrapi user=”planet mosh” get=”photoset” id=”72157660272920905″ size=”z” count=”100″]